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:  

You’ve Been Admitted – How to Engage with USC

Congratulations on your admission to the University of Southern California! We’re excited to welcome you into our Trojan Family! You’re probably wondering about student life at USC. Well, look no further! The questions below provide insight into our USC campus community.

How can I stay up-to-date on all things USC?

You can follow us on Instagram (above) and Twitter, @USCAdmission. If you want more in-depth information, make sure to check out our other blogs here at the USC Admission Blog!

I’ve been admitted! How can I connect with other students?

Come connect with your new classmates on ZeeMee. Find friends, roommates, future lab partners, and your Trojan Family! You can automatically join the Admitted Student Channels via the ZeeMee link in your applicant portal.

What if I want to visit USC to learn more about student life?

Our Explore USC On Campus events are a great way to see firsthand what it’s like to be a student here. You will be able to interact with faculty, meet and talk to current students, and learn more about your program from department representatives. It’s also a great opportunity to eat in a dining hall and take tours of campus and the surrounding neighborhood.

Seven on-campus Explore USC events will be held throughout the month of April. Register through your USC applicant portal!

Can’t visit us on campus?

We have several off-campus events held across the U.S. and around the world for you to meet new admits and department representatives. There are various dates in March and April. Please check your USC applicant portal for more information.

More information sessions for topics like financial aid and academic departments are available virtually. Sign-ups also available on your USC applicant portal.

What unique classes could I take as an enrolled student?

One of the most popular and fun classes you can take at USC is Theatrical Film Symposium! In this class, you get to watch an unreleased movie and then engage in Q&A with someone who worked on the movie! In fall 2022, the class was able to screen Black Panther 2 and spoke to the director, USC alum Ryan Coogler.

Students meet at the beach in Santa Monica, CA to practice on the sand before hitting the waves. (Photo: Margaret Crable.)

If you’re looking for something a little more active, one of our most popular electives is a Surfing class! Students learn the basics of surfing out at Santa Monica Beach.

What are some interesting clubs I can join?

With nearly 1,000 student organizations on campus, there are a variety of unique clubs to join. For example, do you like escape rooms?  How about a club where you create them? Check out EscapeSC!

To find out more about other fun and exciting clubs to join, check out our FaSCinating Clubs blog!

Did somebody say food? Where should I eat on campus?

One of the best places around campus is Honeybird (above)! Fried chicken and honey? Say less. Honeybird is just one of many restaurants at the USC Village such as DULCE, Ramen KENJO, and Il Giardino.

If your stomach is grumbling or you’re in need of a quick pick-me-up, discover more great campus options in our Did Somebody Say Food? and Cozy Campus Coffee Spots blogs!

Any cool events I can check out on campus?

Interested in free concerts?

USC Concerts Committee hosts several of them each year, starting off with the Welcome Back Concert in the fall semester!

How about hearing from the world’s most influential individuals?

Kobe Bryant spoke to students at Bovard Auditorium.(Photo/William Vasta)

The late, great Kobe Bryant came to USC in April 2018 to talk about his life and his love of competition.

Visions and Voices is an initiative that sponsors performances and presentations year-round! For example, the series had Elton John come to speak and perform at USC. These events are free for all USC students!

How’s residential life?

There are seven first-year student residential colleges that students can live in! Students cultivate strong relationships by engaging in organized experiences such as dinner with faculty, going out to a movie, or exploring the beautiful City of Angels.

USC Housing and Residential Education have partnered with Student Equity & Inclusion Programs to establish Living Learning Communities (LLCs). If you’re interested in building leadership skills, continuing your personal growth, and emphasizing the intersectionality of identities these LLCs are the place for you.

The housing application is open!

  • Submit your application by May 1st to ensure: 
    • Guaranteed housing assignment
    • Eligibility to be considered for a special interest community
    • Ability to participate in the online roommate matching process
How can I connect with other students from my cultural/identity communities?

This blog is just the tip of the iceberg of all that USC has to offer our students. We hope that these questions have inspired you to find out more about the ways that USC can support your college journey!

Written by:

Alex Castro, Assistant Director – (USC Office of Admission)

Andy T. Nguyen, Senior Assistant Director – (USC Office of Admission)

USC Welcomes Trojans Back to Campus

In March 2020, USC’s physical doors closed and virtual ones opened. As of this August, USC is thrilled to welcome new and returning students back home. USC’s return to campus this fall is exciting, the campus is alive and buzzing. With new faces to meet and places to explore, our return to campus has been nothing short of thrilling.  

We kicked off our return by welcoming incoming undergraduates from the Fall 2020 and Fall 2021 admitted classes at our annual Fall Convocation. The campus was electrified with cardinal and gold clad students in their embroidered USC gowns, sitting with their academic departments. Their families documented the enormous tradition from Alumni Park, all awaiting their confirmation into the Trojan Family.  

Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism students cheer their school at the new student convocation August 19, 2021 at USC. Photo by David Sprague/USC

Convocation commenced with a welcome from President FoltFolt opened with powerful words for our incoming students and their families,  USC is a place of new beginnings and fresh starts-of big dreams and kinetic energy bouncing off people – a place where you belong, where you’re valued and where you will make your mark.” Folt supported their first steps into the Trojan family, “you are the fresh faces of tomorrow-you’ll take the first-rate education you receive here, to become inspirational doers, thinkers and leaders across the world-just like legions of Trojans before you.” Folt confirmed Trojans share a passion for USC which is legendary, and left us with the questionshow will you create and what will you stand for? 

USC President Carol L. Folt speaks during new student convocation, August 19, 2021. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Then Varun Soni, Dean of USC Religious Life, led the crowd through a blessing of the cell phone  a first for me, offering inspiring and important words “may our cell phones and smart devices be sources of creativity and connection as opposed to outrage and anxiety…May our devices enlighten us to new and different perspectives, worldviews, and realities instead of just amplifying and reinforcing what we might already think and believe.” 

Students raise their cell phones to be blessed at the new student convocation August 19, 2021 at USC. Photo by David Sprague/USC

 Next, we heard from a variety of students and campus leaders leaving words of wisdom as our students entered campus. Finally, the deans of each academic unit welcomed their respective inductees, confirming what their students will contribute to society as well as their rights and responsibilities as USC learners.  

Students from each of the schools bear their school flags during the processional at the new student convocation August 19, 2021 at USC. Photo by David Sprague/USC

Currently we are in the midst of the beginning weeks of our fall semester. USC has kicked off welcoming students back to campus with events like Glow Yoga, Welcome Back Concert, Light Up the Night SC and (my favorite) the Spirit Rally! Trojan Marching Band Spirit Rally is an unofficial required induction to the many Trojan traditions. Gathering in the stands of the Cromwell Track and Field stadium, the USC Marching Band, Song Girls, and Spirit Leaders prepare new Trojans with cheers and USC fight songs to support our teams on to victory this Fall!  

The USC Song Girls perform during the Trojan Marching Band spirit rally, August 20, 2021. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Wondering what to do on campus upon returning? Check out some recommendations from our USC Student Ambassadors! 

“I am excited to go back to class, sounds very simple, but it’s really quite fun just walking from one class to another and actually commuting. You run into your friends on the way to class, you say hello and see people you haven’t seen in a couple of weeks. It’s just heartwarming! I would personally recommend going to the Coliseum which is located just south of USC, ideally go during a game day. You will see people wearing cardinal and gold, everyone is jumping, everyone is chanting it is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Go Trojans!”
Felipe, Junior from Bogota, Columbia majoring in Civil Engineering 

I am most excited for the football games because I am into athletics and so having that energy again is so exciting. I would say go to the bookstore because everyone loves getting some USC gear even if you don’t go to USC everyone’s going to have it.”
Princess, Sophomore from Maywood, IL majoring in Musical Theater

If you are a new student you should bring the Hammock in McCarthy Quad, enjoy the California sunshine with your friends.” 
Priya, Senior from Apple Valley, MN majoring in International Relations (Global Business) 

“I am most excited to see my friends and classmates, I am ready to get back to in person learning.”
Rachel, Senior from Pleasanton, CA majoring in Sociology

“I’m excited to see people rehearsing in the Queen’s Court. Where to visit? I like listening to the squirrels, in Founders Park there’s always a bench in the shade.”
Jozeline, Sophomore from Long Beach CA, majoring in Music Industry 

Welcome back Trojans and Fight On!