Cornell vs USC: Which University is the Best Fit for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Students eating together while talking.

Cornell vs USC: Which University is the Best Fit for You?

Choosing the right university is a major decision that can impact your life for years to come. Cornell University and the University of Southern California (USC) are both prestigious institutions that offer a wide range of academic programs, state-of-the-art facilities, and vibrant campus cultures. However, deciding which one to attend can be a daunting task. In this article, we’ll compare the Cornell vs USC in terms of various aspects to help you make an informed decision.

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Location: Cornell and USC Campus Overview

Cornell University is located in Ithaca, New York, a small town with a population of around 30,000 people. The campus covers over 2,300 acres of rolling hills and natural beauty. USC, on the other hand, is situated in the heart of Los Angeles, California, a bustling metropolis with a population of over four million people. The USC campus covers 226 acres and is surrounded by a diverse urban community. Both universities offer a unique campus experience that reflects the surrounding community. While Cornell is known for its natural beauty and traditional campus architecture, USC offers a more modern and urban environment.

In addition to their unique locations, Cornell and USC also offer a wide range of academic programs and extracurricular activities. Cornell is known for its strong programs in agriculture, engineering, and veterinary medicine, while USC is renowned for its film, business, and communication programs. Both universities also offer a variety of clubs, sports teams, and cultural organizations for students to get involved in. Whether you prefer a small town or a big city, a traditional or modern campus, Cornell and USC have something to offer for everyone.

Academic Programs: How Cornell vs USC Differ

Cornell and USC offer a wide range of academic programs that cater to various interests and career paths. Cornell is known for its prestigious Ivy League education, offering over 80 undergraduate majors and over 120 graduate programs across 14 colleges and schools. USC, on the other hand, is a private research university that offers over 150 undergraduate majors and more than 200 graduate programs across 23 schools and colleges. While Cornell specializes in areas such as agriculture and engineering, USC is particularly strong in fields such as business, film, and communications. Both universities have world-renowned faculties and offer a challenging academic experience.

One of the key differences between Cornell and USC is their approach to interdisciplinary studies. Cornell has a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research and education, with many of its programs and centers spanning multiple fields of study. USC, on the other hand, has a more traditional approach to academic disciplines, with a focus on developing expertise in specific areas of study.

Another notable difference between the two universities is their location. Cornell is located in Ithaca, a small town in upstate New York, while USC is located in Los Angeles, one of the largest and most diverse cities in the world. This difference in location can have a significant impact on the student experience, with Cornell offering a more traditional college town atmosphere and USC providing access to the cultural and professional opportunities of a major city.

Admissions Process: How to Get into Cornell or USC

Getting into Cornell or USC is a competitive process that requires careful preparation and attention to detail. Cornell has an acceptance rate of around 11%, while USC has an acceptance rate of around 16%. Both universities require strong academic credentials, including high school transcripts, standardized test scores, essays, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities. Cornell also offers an early decision option for students who are committed to attending the university if accepted. USC offers a range of admission programs, including early action, regular decision, and transfer admission. In addition, USC evaluates students holistically, considering not only their academic achievements but also their personal qualities, leadership skills, and service to the community.

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Aside from the academic requirements, Cornell and USC also consider the student’s financial capability. Both universities offer financial aid programs to help students who may have difficulty paying for their education. Cornell offers need-based financial aid, which is determined based on the student’s family income and assets. USC, on the other hand, offers both need-based and merit-based scholarships to qualified students.

Furthermore, Cornell and USC have different admission requirements for international students. International students are required to submit additional documents, such as English proficiency test scores and financial statements. USC also offers an International Academy program, which provides English language and academic preparation courses for international students who need additional support before starting their degree programs.

Campus Life: What to Expect at Cornell vs USC

Cornell and USC both offer a vibrant campus life that includes a wide variety of clubs, organizations, and social activities. Cornell has over 1,000 student organizations that cater to different interests, including sports, arts, politics, and community service. USC offers over 800 student organizations that cover similar areas. Both universities also have lively social scenes, with events such as concerts, dances, and parties. Cornell is famous for its Dragon Day parade, where students build and parade a large dragon sculpture around campus. USC is known for its traditional homecoming festivities and its proximity to popular attractions such as Hollywood and the beach. Both universities have strong alumni networks that provide students with career advice and networking opportunities.

In addition to the numerous clubs and organizations, Cornell and USC also offer a range of resources to support student well-being. Cornell has a comprehensive health and wellness program that includes counseling services, health education, and medical care. USC has a dedicated center for student mental health that provides counseling, therapy, and psychiatric services. Both universities also have fitness centers, sports facilities, and outdoor recreation areas that promote physical activity and healthy living. With these resources, students can maintain a healthy balance between academic and personal life.

Athletics: Sports Programs Offered at Cornell vs USC

Cornell and USC both offer a diverse range of sports programs that cater to different skill levels and interests. Cornell is a member of the Ivy League and offers 36 varsity sports teams. USC is a member of the Pac-12 Conference and offers 21 varsity sports teams. Both universities have a strong tradition of athletic excellence, with numerous national championships and Olympic medalists in the ranks of their athletes. Cornell is known for its ice hockey program, while USC is famous for its football team. Both universities also offer extensive facilities, including gyms, swimming pools, and outdoor fields.

In addition to varsity sports, both Cornell and USC offer a variety of club and intramural sports programs. These programs allow students to participate in sports at a more casual level, without the commitment required for varsity sports. Cornell has over 60 club sports teams, ranging from ultimate frisbee to equestrian. USC has over 40 club sports teams, including rugby and water polo.

college basketball game

Furthermore, both universities prioritize the health and well-being of their student-athletes. They provide resources such as athletic trainers, sports medicine clinics, and mental health services to ensure that their athletes are able to perform at their best both on and off the field. Cornell and USC also have strict policies regarding academic eligibility for student-athletes, ensuring that they are able to balance their athletic and academic commitments.

Student Organizations: Clubs and Activities at Cornell vs USC

Cornell and USC both have a wide range of student organizations that cater to diverse interests and backgrounds. Cornell has over 1,000 clubs and organizations, including cultural groups, fraternities, sororities, and service organizations. USC offers over 800 clubs and organizations, including academic societies, community service groups, and special interest clubs. Both universities provide opportunities for students to develop leadership skills, engage with the community, and explore their passions.

Additionally, both Cornell and USC have a strong focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, with numerous clubs and organizations dedicated to fostering these skills. Cornell has the Entrepreneurship at Cornell program, which offers resources and support for students interested in starting their own businesses. USC has the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, which provides a comprehensive entrepreneurship education and hosts events and competitions for students to showcase their ideas. These programs offer students the chance to gain practical experience and connect with like-minded individuals in their field.

Research Opportunities: Discovering Research Possibilities at Cornell vs USC

Cornell and USC are both research universities that offer extensive opportunities for students to engage in cutting-edge research. Cornell has 100 research centers and institutes, including the Cornell Center for Materials Research and the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source. USC has over 40 research centers and institutes, including the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education and the USC Brain and Creativity Institute. Both universities also offer undergraduate research programs that allow students to conduct independent research or work with faculty members on ongoing research projects.

Additionally, both Cornell and USC have strong partnerships with industry leaders, providing students with opportunities to work on real-world projects and gain valuable experience. Cornell has partnerships with companies such as IBM, Microsoft, and Intel, while USC has partnerships with companies such as Google, Disney, and Boeing. These partnerships often lead to internships and job opportunities for students after graduation.

Alumni Networks: Connections for Life After Graduation

Cornell and USC both have active alumni networks that provide valuable resources and connections for students after graduation. Cornell has over 250,000 alumni worldwide, who work in diverse fields such as business, government, and academia. USC has over 450,000 alumni worldwide, who are leaders in a variety of industries, including entertainment, technology, and education. Both universities offer alumni networking events, career services, and mentoring programs to help students succeed in their chosen careers.

In addition to networking events and career services, both Cornell and USC alumni networks offer opportunities for students to give back to their communities. Cornell alumni participate in the Cornell Cares Day, a global day of service where alumni and students work together on community service projects. USC alumni participate in the USC Day of SCervice, a similar event where alumni and students volunteer in their local communities. These events not only provide opportunities for alumni to connect with each other and give back, but also allow current students to network with alumni and gain valuable experience in community service.

Financial Aid: Scholarships and Grants Available at Cornell vs USC

Cornell and USC both offer generous financial aid packages to help students afford their education. Cornell offers need-based aid, including grants, loans, and work-study programs, to around 50% of its undergraduate students. USC offers need-based and merit-based aid, including scholarships, grants, and work-study programs, to around 64% of its undergraduate students. Both universities also offer financial aid counseling and support to help students navigate the financial aid process.

View of FAFSa forms strewn on the table.


In addition to need-based and merit-based aid, Cornell and USC also offer a variety of scholarships for students with specific interests or backgrounds. For example, Cornell offers scholarships for students pursuing majors in agriculture, engineering, and hotel administration, as well as scholarships for first-generation college students. USC offers scholarships for students interested in the arts, athletics, and community service, as well as scholarships for students from underrepresented communities. These scholarships can provide additional financial support and opportunities for students to pursue their passions and goals.

Student Life Expenses: Comparing the Cost of Living in Ithaca vs Los Angeles

Attending Cornell or USC involves significant expenses, including tuition, room and board, books, and personal expenses. Cornell’s tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 academic year are $60,539, while USC’s tuition and fees for the same year are $59,260. However, the cost of living in Ithaca, New York is generally lower than in Los Angeles, California. For example, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Ithaca is around $1,000 per month, while the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is around $2,200 per month. Overall, the cost of attending either university will depend on various factors, including financial aid, housing choices, and personal expenses.

Aside from the cost of living, there are also differences in the student life experiences at Cornell and USC. Cornell is located in a small college town, with a tight-knit community and a focus on academics. On the other hand, USC is located in the heart of Los Angeles, with access to a diverse range of cultural experiences and opportunities for internships and networking. Both universities offer a range of extracurricular activities and student organizations, allowing students to pursue their interests and make connections with peers. Ultimately, the decision between attending Cornell or USC will depend on individual preferences and priorities.

Faculty Profiles: Distinguished Professors at Cornell vs USC

Cornell and USC both have top-ranked faculties that are renowned for their expertise and research. Cornell has over 1,500 faculty members, including 50 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Engineering, and 39 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. USC has over 4,000 faculty members, including 12 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 14 members of the National Academy of Engineering, and 35 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Both universities offer opportunities for students to work closely with faculty members and benefit from their mentorship and guidance.

In addition to their impressive academic achievements, many faculty members at Cornell and USC are also actively involved in community outreach and service projects. For example, Cornell’s Engaged Cornell initiative encourages students and faculty to collaborate with local organizations and address community needs through research and service. Similarly, USC’s Good Neighbors Campaign supports community programs and partnerships that improve the quality of life for residents in the neighborhoods surrounding the university. These efforts demonstrate the commitment of faculty members at both universities to making a positive impact beyond the classroom.

Career Services: Job Placement for Graduating Students

Cornell and USC both offer comprehensive career services that help students prepare for their future careers. Cornell’s Career Services office provides counseling, workshops, and job fairs to help students explore career options, search for jobs and internships, and prepare for interviews. USC’s Career Center offers similar services, as well as career assessments, mock interviews, and employer networking events. Both universities have high job placement rates for their graduating students, with Cornell reporting a 97% placement rate and USC reporting an 88% placement rate within six months of graduation.

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In addition to job placement services, both Cornell and USC also offer resources for students interested in pursuing graduate studies. Cornell’s Graduate School provides information on graduate programs, funding opportunities, and application processes. USC’s Graduate School offers similar resources, as well as workshops on preparing for graduate school and networking events with graduate program representatives. These resources can be invaluable for students who are considering continuing their education after completing their undergraduate degree.

Campus Safety Measures: Ensuring a Safe Learning Environment at Cornell vs USC

Cornell and USC both prioritize campus safety and have measures in place to ensure a secure learning environment. Cornell has its own police department, which patrols the campus and works closely with local law enforcement agencies. Cornell also offers programs such as the Blue Light Escort Service and the Rape Aggression Defense Program to support students’ safety. USC has a strong Department of Public Safety, which includes sworn officers, community service officers, and security personnel. USC also offers safety programs such as the LiveSafe mobile app and the Community Advisory Board to promote a safe campus environment.

Student Diversity in Campus Culture; Comparing the Diversity of Students in both universities

Cornell and USC both strive to promote diversity and inclusivity among their student populations. Cornell has a student body that is 32% minority students, with a significant percentage of international students. USC has a student body that is 52% minority students, with a significant percentage of international students as well. Both universities offer support for students from diverse backgrounds, including multicultural centers and initiatives to promote understanding and dialogue between different groups.

Prospective Opportunities after Graduation from both Universities

Cornell and USC graduates are highly sought after in various fields and industries. Cornell alumni have gone on to successful careers in fields such as business, government, and academia, with notable graduates including Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Bill Nye. USC alumni have also excelled in a variety of industries, including entertainment, technology, and entrepreneurship, with notable graduates including George Lucas and Elon Musk. Both universities offer extensive resources and networks to help their graduates succeed, including mentoring programs, job fairs, and alumni networking events.

The impact of Corona Virus on both universities

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted both Cornell and USC in various ways. Both universities have had to adapt to remote learning and social distancing measures to reduce the risk of transmission. Cornell has developed a comprehensive plan to promote health and safety on campus, including frequent testing, contact tracing, and isolation measures. USC has similarly implemented safety measures such as a daily health check-in and on-campus testing. The pandemic has also affected campus life and extracurricular activities, with both universities offering online events and virtual clubs to promote community engagement. However, as the situation improves and restrictions are lifted, both institutions are looking forward to returning to more normal operations, while still ensuring the safety and well-being of their students and staff.

Internship Programs Offered by Both Universities for Students

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Cornell and USC both offer extensive internship programs to help students gain real-world experience and explore career options. Cornell’s Career Services office offers resources for finding internships and provides funding for unpaid internships through the Cornell Extern Program. USC’s Career Center also offers resources for finding internships, including the Trojan Internship Program, which matches students with employers based on their interests and skills. Additionally, both universities offer opportunities for students to gain academic credit for their internships and receive mentorship and guidance from faculty members and professionals in their chosen fields.

Overall, choosing between Cornell and USC depends on your individual interests, career goals, and personal preferences. Both universities offer a top-notch education, world-class faculties, and extensive resources and opportunities for students. However, the two universities differ in terms of location, campus culture, academic programs, and other factors that may affect your decision. We hope this article has provided you with useful information to help you make an informed decision about which university is the best fit for you.



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