Living at USC

Oh, Housing! 

You’ve been admitted to USC and completed your next steps, but now you must think about where to live for the next year! Choosing where to live can be a hard decision to make – but don’t fret, I’m here to share some insight into our housing options at USC to make things a little bit easier.  

USC offers eleven different options for first-year students that are divided into three categories: freshman residence halls, freshman suites, and freshman apartments. Let’s dive into each one. 

Freshman Residence Halls 

Our Freshman Residence Halls are composed of Birnkrant Residential College, New North Residential College, Marks Tower, and Pardee Tower. These housing options are what most would consider to be your traditional dormitory style that includes a double or triple dorm and shared restrooms. You’ll find all four of these buildings on the north and southeastern parts of our campus with fast access to main campus intersections, study areas, and eateries including McCarthy Quad, Trojan Grounds (TroGro), Everybody’s Kitchen (EVK), and our two largest libraries, Leavey and Doheny Library (also home to LiteraTea).  

Residence halls are a great way for first-year students to get to meet other students from different parts of the state, US, and world!  

Air Conditioning? 


Freshman Suites 

McCarthy Honors Residential College, Parkside Arts & Humanities Residential College, and Parkside International Residential College offer suite style living to our first-year students and are located on the southwestern part of campus. Suites are accommodated with single and double rooms as well as private bathrooms. Suite-style living provides students with the opportunity to get to know other students within a smaller and tight-knit community. Students can enjoy walking down to Parkside dining hall, use the outdoor fire pit, or explore Exposition Park, which is home to the beautiful Rose Garden and Museum Row.  

Air Conditioning? 


Freshman Apartments 

If you’re interested in living in an apartment your first year, Cale and Irani Residential College, Cardinal Gardens, Parkside Apartments, and Webb Tower are for you! Located across different parts of campus, all of these housing options offer one- or two-bedroom options with two or four people per apartment. What makes apartments so unique are the full kitchens available. If you like to bake or cook, this might be for you!  

Air conditioning? 

Cale and Irani, Cardinal Gardens, Webb Towner 

Now let’s take a look at locations!  

Northeast and Southwest campus housing provides students with quick access to the center of campus including Trousdale, the Student Union, McCarthy Quad, and the USC Village. Students are also only a five-minute walk from the Galen Center, retail shops at University Gateway and the Figueroa Corridor, which has lots of tasty food options! The USC/Jefferson Metro train stop is also ten minutes away, available to students interested in taking public transportation to explore the city. Exposition Boulevard and Figueroa Street are also nearby, where students have more food options including Wing Stop, Starbucks, and more. 

The North and Northeastern housing options have prime access to the Lyon Recreational Center and the Village Gym, as well as the USC Village. The Village is home to a variety of dining options including the newest dining hall inspired by Harry Potter, Honeybird, CAVA, Dulce, City Tacos, Target, and Trader Joe’s. Students can also take advantage of the great Village lawn during our sunny spring and summer days where they can picnic, play ultimate frisbee, soccer, listen to music – you name it! 

Last but not least is the Southeastern housing community, Parkside, which is also dearly known as Parkside Darkside. This nickname stems from the fact that Parkside is the most removed from the center of campus and is tucked away next to Exposition Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. Arguably, there are constant debates about the best dining hall at USC, and Parkside often seems to take the cake! Not only is Parkside in the running for the best dining hall, but its location is perfect for students who have classes in Seeley G. Mudd building or have majors in Viterbi, Gerontology, Iovine and Young, Architecture, and Roski.  

Regardless of your preferences or where you are assigned to live your first year at USC, I hope you enjoy it and take advantage of what your residential building has to offer and find a beautiful community within! 

Website referenced:  

Transfer Talk Tuesday: First Generation

Hi, my name is Tyler and I am currently a junior at the University of Southern California studying Business Administration with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. I transferred from Irvine Valley College (IVC) after de-committing from another institution at the start of the 2020 pandemic. Because I had a lot of AP credits, I was able to complete half of my bachelor’s degree in one year out of high school.  

Why did I decide to transfer to USC (generally)? 

Weeks before committing to USC, I actually signed a letter of intent to attend another institution. Once I received my USC admission letter, I changed my mind because I felt so much more welcomed at USC. When I reached out to guidance counselors at USC, they immediately got back to me and offered to hop on a Zoom call to discuss several questions I had.  

What were your initial concerns about transferring? 

I was initially concerned about finding a community at USC since the school was still hybrid when I got on campus in Fall 2021. I remember attending 15 different club information sessions to see which was the best fit for me. By putting myself out there, I was able to find a home within a home at USC. I am now actively involved in Sigma Eta Pi, Trojan Investing Society, SC Auto Society, Family Business Society, and various other organizations.  

My perspective as a transfer student to USC. 

Coming to USC as a low-income, first-generation college student, I felt incredible pressure to do well in school so I could eventually find success in the workforce. My parents encouraged me to stay focused, but they never pushed me as much as I pushed myself.  

As the oldest of three brothers, I always felt that I had an obligation to set a good example for my siblings. The truth is that I often felt lost. I had questions that I didn’t know the answers to. I had a lot of sleepless nights trying to balance my busy schedule. While I had two younger brothers looking up to me for help, I didn’t have anyone with whom I could go to for support and advice. 

Unable to receive aid from my family, I looked externally. With the support of the USC network, I was able to find mentors both on and off campus. Whether it was reaching out for informational interviews, coffee chats, or just asking for advice, I can’t thank USC enough for all the great people I’ve met.  

To me, college was never about just getting a degree – it was about breaking generational curses. My mindset was to succeed or else. Due to my family’s financial situation, I didn’t have a safety net or anything to fall back on. I often stare into the abyss of my bedroom ceiling, reminding myself that If I didn’t see things through at USC, I would never be able to alleviate my parents’ financial stress back at home.  

Throughout undergrad, I worked various jobs and pursued different side hustles to pay for school expenses and to stay afloat. As I worry about my upcoming exams, club meetings, career recruiting, and having fun on a Friday night like any other twenty-year-old, I am also stressing about how I am going to pay for next month’s rent.  

Still, I believe there is beauty in the struggle. Yes, there are setbacks to being a low-income first-generation student, but there are also great upsides. 

I have become resilient and recognize that there are things in life you can and can’t control. You can’t control where you come from and the financial situation you are born into, but you can control your future and your attitude.  

When things get tough, I remind myself that I am privileged to attend one of the greatest institutions in the world. I am surrounded by some of the most ambitious people who are going to change the world for the better. I draw inspiration from those around me and stay positive no matter the situation. 

I am grateful for everything I have and am always looking to pay it forward. I don’t take anything for granted and know that it can all disappear in the blink of an eye.  

One last piece of advice I have for both current and prospective students is:  

Tomorrow isn’t promised. Seize the day. Control the controllables. Stay optimistic. When things get tough, don’t give up. You already have a friend in me!  

Written by Tyler Vo, Class of 2024

Transfer Talk Tuesday: Community College (Imposter Syndrome)

High school is seen as a time of growth in life and education. As students continue through their high school experience, they are preparing to transition from teenage years to adult life – a big reality shift! In the last month of high school, students are deciding what to do with their life and future. While some are ready to move out around 17-18 years old, there are others who still need to prepare to leave. I was one of the few that decided to stay back home and continue to grow as an individual at a community college, with the intention of expanding my options even more. I attended Victor Valley College in Victorville, California from Fall 2019 until Spring 2022, earning my Associate degree in Math and Science; not following the traditional two years at community college because I wanted to maximize my transfer credits. While I was deciding what schools to commit to, having received acceptances from other institutions, I received an email from USC Admission stating that there was an update on my application portal. I finally decided to commit to a school and here I am, at USC, seven months later. 

Like any transfer student, I was excited and ready to venture out into this new journey. The thought of being in an unknown environment is very scary because, in my 21 years of life, I have never left my mother’s side. I come from a very family-oriented home, so my transition to this huge institution took a big toll on me. I was excited and ready to start my new semester but once it started, it felt very overwhelming and I could not find time for anything, not even for myself. I would compare my life in community college to the new one all the time. In community college and in high school, I was an active member of my community while balancing school and a full-time job. As my time continued, I began to become more familiar with my new environment at USC and the outside resources, like office hours, supplemental instruction, La Casa, and other small groups around campus. As I learned in my “Population and Environmental Biology” course at my previous institution, living organisms experience behavioral stress when removed from a place of familiarity and are placed in a new habitat. It takes all living organisms – including people – time to adapt to their new environment and find ways that will allow them to survive. Not everyone who transfers or enters a new place will experience “imposter syndrome,” and it is very different for each individual. 

All people who transfer to USC or any institution come from distinct backgrounds and have their own stories to tell. From what I have experienced, everyone has a different transfer story and different ways to cope with their adjustments. As cliché as it may sound, it takes time to adjust to a change, but rest assure that this adjustment period is an opportunity to grow more familiar with your surroundings and enjoy the plethora of opportunities that USC and its students provide. There is truly a place for everyone on campus, and after I found mine I knew that I absolutely made the right choice. 

Written by Alicia Camarena, Class of 2024