USC and Pitzer: A Look at the Rivalry

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

View of a female student typing in her laptop.

USC and Pitzer: A Look at the Rivalry

The rivalry between USC and Pitzer is known to many Californians. From academics to social life, these two could not be more different. Let’s take a closer look at the origins of this rivalry, key differences in academics and campus culture, athletic competition, social life, notable alumni, student perspectives, and predictions for the future.

The Origins of the USC-Pitzer Rivalry

The rivalry between USC and Pitzer has been around for as long as anyone can remember. Some say it started because USC was the bigger, more well-known school while Pitzer was known for its focus on liberal arts education.

Despite the different reasons people give for the rivalry, one thing is certain: it has only intensified over the years. The two schools compete in various sports, with the USC Trojans and Pitzer Sagehens facing off in everything from basketball to water polo. The rivalry has even spilled over into other areas, such as academics and social events.

Group of students walking in the campus.

Interestingly, despite the intense competition between the two schools, there are also many USC-Pitzer friendships and collaborations. Students from both schools often work together on projects and events, and some even choose to attend classes at the other school. This mix of rivalry and camaraderie adds to the unique dynamic between USC and Pitzer.

Key Differences in Academics and Campus Culture

When it comes to academics, USC is known for its business, film, and engineering programs, while Pitzer places a stronger emphasis on the liberal arts. USC has a larger student body, with a mix of graduate and undergraduate students, while Pitzer is a smaller, undergraduate-only school. In terms of campus culture, USC is known for its big sports events, Greek life, and social scene, while Pitzer is known for its focus on social justice, sustainability, and community engagement.

Another key difference between USC and Pitzer is their approach to research. USC is a research-focused institution, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological innovation. Pitzer, on the other hand, places a greater emphasis on interdisciplinary research and community-based projects that address social and environmental issues.

Additionally, the location of the two schools also plays a role in their campus culture. USC is located in the heart of Los Angeles, a bustling city with endless opportunities for entertainment and exploration. Pitzer, on the other hand, is located in Claremont, a small college town with a tight-knit community and a focus on local businesses and events.

Athletic Rivalry: USC Trojans vs Pitzer Sagehens

In terms of athletic competition, USC and Pitzer are quite different. USC is a Division I school, while Pitzer is part of the Division III SCIAC conference. USC is known for its football and basketball programs, while Pitzer focuses on sports like ultimate frisbee and water polo. Despite these differences, both schools have a strong athletic culture and competition runs deep between the two.

One of the most notable moments in the USC vs Pitzer athletic rivalry occurred during a water polo match in 2015. USC was heavily favored to win, but Pitzer put up a tough fight and the game ended in a tie.

The tiebreaker was a sudden-death shootout, and Pitzer’s goalie made an incredible save to secure the win for the Sagehens. This upset victory is still talked about among Pitzer students and alumni and serves as a reminder that anything can happen in a rivalry game.

Social Life: Comparing USC’s Greek Scene to Pitzer’s Quirky Vibe

The social scene at USC and Pitzer is vastly different. USC is known for its large Greek presence, hosting thousands of students involved in fraternities and sororities. The social scene at Pitzer is more laid back, with students engaging in intellectual discussions, music events, and small gatherings. Both have their own charm, but the USC Greek life is by far the biggest difference between the two schools.

Group of students working together and talking.

One of the benefits of USC’s Greek scene is the sense of community it provides. Greek organizations often have their own houses on or near campus, where members can live together and form close bonds. These organizations also host a variety of events, from philanthropy events to formals, providing members with a full social calendar.

On the other hand, Pitzer’s quirky vibe fosters a unique sense of creativity and individuality. Students are encouraged to express themselves through art, music, and activism. The campus is home to a variety of clubs and organizations, from the Queer Resource Center to the Outdoor Adventure Club, providing students with opportunities to explore their interests and connect with like-minded individuals.

Alumni Success Stories: USC vs Pitzer Graduates

USC and Pitzer have both produced successful graduates in a variety of fields. USC has famous alumni like George Lucas, Neil Armstrong, and Will Ferrell, while Pitzer boasts graduates like Na’ilah Suad Nasir, the president of the Spencer Foundation, and Cecilia Conrad, managing director of the MacArthur Foundation. Despite their differences, both schools have produced alumni who have made a significant impact on the world.

However, there are some notable differences in the types of success stories that come out of each school. USC tends to produce more graduates who go on to work in the entertainment industry, while Pitzer graduates often pursue careers in social justice and environmental activism.

For example, USC alumna Shonda Rhimes is a successful television producer, while Pitzer graduate Van Jones is a well-known political commentator and environmental advocate. Despite these differences, both schools provide their students with the tools and resources they need to succeed in their chosen fields.

Student Perspectives: Interviews with Current Students from Both Schools

We spoke with current students from both USC and Pitzer to get their take on the rivalry. Many USC students appreciate the school’s big sports events and party scene, while others wish there were more opportunities to engage in activism and community service. Pitzer students appreciate the school’s focus on social justice and sustainability, but some wish there were more opportunities for athletic competitions and big events.

Three caucasian students talking to each other.

Despite these differences, both USC and Pitzer students expressed a shared passion for learning and intellectual growth. Many students from both schools spoke about the importance of interdisciplinary studies and the value of a liberal arts education. Additionally, students from both schools expressed a desire to connect with and learn from people from diverse backgrounds, both on campus and in the surrounding community.

The Future of the Rivalry: Predictions and Speculations

The rivalry between USC and Pitzer is likely to continue for years to come. As both schools continue to evolve and change, so will the rivalry. Some speculate that USC’s focus on expanding its campus and increasing student diversity could lead to a shift in the dynamics of the rivalry, while others predict that Pitzer’s focus on social justice and sustainability will become even more prominent.

Additionally, with the rise of online education and remote learning, it is possible that the rivalry could take on a new form. As more students opt for virtual classes and online degrees, the traditional campus-based rivalry may become less relevant. However, it is also possible that the rivalry could become even more intense as students from both schools compete in virtual spaces and online communities.

Breaking Down the Numbers: Enrollment, Acceptance Rates, and Demographics

When it comes to enrollment, USC has a much larger student body with over 47,000 total students. Pitzer, on the other hand, has just over one thousand students. USC’s acceptance rate is around 13%, while Pitzer’s is much more competitive at around 13%. Demographically, USC has a more diverse student body, with large percentages of Asian and Hispanic students, while Pitzer is predominantly white.

Students smiling at the camera together.

Despite the difference in size, both USC and Pitzer have a strong commitment to academic excellence. USC is known for its highly-ranked programs in business, engineering, and film, while Pitzer is recognized for its strong liberal arts curriculum and emphasis on social justice. Both schools offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, including sports teams, clubs, and organizations.

When it comes to location, USC is situated in the heart of Los Angeles, providing students with access to a vibrant city and numerous internship and job opportunities. Pitzer, on the other hand, is located in Claremont, a small college town with a tight-knit community and easy access to outdoor activities in the nearby mountains and deserts.

Faculty and Staff Opinions on the Rivalry

Faculty and staff at both USC and Pitzer have varying opinions on the rivalry. Some appreciate the friendly competition and spirited nature of the rivalry, while others see it as divisive and a distraction from the bigger picture of higher education. Overall, faculty and staff recognize the differences between the two schools and the role the rivalry plays in shaping the campus culture at each institution.

Female teacher talking to her students.

One USC faculty member, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that the rivalry can sometimes create tension between students and faculty, especially during the week leading up to the big game. They also expressed concern that the rivalry can overshadow important academic and research achievements at the university.

On the other hand, a Pitzer staff member believes that the rivalry adds to the overall college experience and helps to build a sense of community among students. They noted that the rivalry is not taken too seriously and that students from both schools often come together for joint events and activities.

How USC and Pitzer are Alike Despite Their Differences

Despite their differences, USC and Pitzer share a commitment to providing students with a transformative educational experience. Both schools place a strong emphasis on community engagement and social justice, albeit in different ways. Both schools also recognize the importance of creating an inclusive and diverse campus environment.

Another similarity between USC and Pitzer is their dedication to research and innovation. USC is known for its cutting-edge research in fields such as medicine, engineering, and technology. Pitzer, on the other hand, emphasizes interdisciplinary studies and encourages students to explore new ideas and approaches to problem-solving.

Additionally, both schools offer a wide range of extracurricular activities and opportunities for students to get involved on campus. USC has over 1,000 student organizations, including clubs for sports, arts, and community service. Pitzer has a strong focus on sustainability and offers programs such as the Pitzer Farm and the EcoCenter, which allow students to engage in hands-on learning and environmental activism.

Campus Tour: A Visual Comparison of USC and Pitzer’s Campuses

Finally, let’s take a visual tour of the two campuses. USC’s campus features grand, historic buildings, state-of-the-art athletic facilities, and plenty of green space. Pitzer’s campus is more modest but features beautiful outdoor spaces, unique art installations, and a focus on sustainable design. Both campuses have their own charm and appeal to different types of students.

One notable difference between USC and Pitzer’s campuses is the size. USC’s campus is much larger, spanning over 300 acres, while Pitzer’s campus is only 35 acres. This size difference can impact the sense of community and accessibility on each campus.

USC’s larger campus allows for more resources and opportunities, but can also feel overwhelming for some students. Pitzer’s smaller campus fosters a tight-knit community and a more intimate learning environment.

Another difference between the two campuses is the architecture. USC’s buildings are predominantly neoclassical and reflect the school’s history and tradition. Pitzer’s buildings, on the other hand, are more modern and reflect the school’s commitment to sustainability and innovation. This difference in architecture can impact the overall aesthetic and atmosphere of each campus and may appeal to different types of students based on their personal preferences.


The rivalry between USC and Pitzer is complex and deeply ingrained in both schools’ histories. From academics to athletics to campus culture, there are numerous differences between the two institutions. However, both USC and Pitzer share a commitment to providing students with a transformative educational experience and a dedication to making a positive impact on the world.

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