Graduate School Spotlight: University of Southern California

USC is a great school if you’re looking for graduate school programs in a large metropolis and prefer to stay on the West Coast! USC is the oldest private research university in the Western United States. It was established in 1880 and its main campus, University Park, is located just minutes from Downtown Los Angeles. It has a stellar reputation both for its undergrad and graduate programs and is in the top 1% of all colleges and universities in terms of selectivity and was voted “College of the Year” in 2000 by TIME Magazine.

At USC, programs with similar areas of knowledge and interest are grouped together to form schools (such as the Keck School of Medicine, the USC Thornton School of Music and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering) and academic departments within the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences (such as Biology, English and Sociology). USC awards Master of Arts, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, as well as doctoral degrees in professional fields. Enrollments include students from over 115 countries and the university offers extensive opportunities for internships and study abroad.

The main campus is home to the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences as well as 17 professional schools. The main University Park campus is easily accessible by foot, with cars limited to only a couple streets, and contains many beautiful buildings, a combination of East Coast-style original brick and newer research facilities. USC also has a Health Sciences campus, northeast of downtown LA, which houses the Schools of Pharmacy, Medicine as well as programs in Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy.

Recently USC became the recipient of five large grants: $120 million to create the Annenberg Center for Communication, $100 million for the USC Annenberg School for Communication, $112.5 million for the Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering, $110 million for USC’s School of Medicine and $175 million from George Lucas to the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Besides its academic excellence, USC is known for its strong sports teams (“Fight On!”) and active social life. USC’s biggest rival is cross-town school UCLA (another great graduate school—look for it in a future “Graduate School Spotlight” blog!), and the annual football games are popular events for students. Other social activities include a number of popular clubs, a large student government, and the famous student newspaper, The Daily Trojan, which has been published continuously since 1912.

You can find out more about USC here!

Tough GMAT: Critical Reasoning Question of the Day!

From the evil geniuses at Manhattan GMAT, try this interesting CR question, the read the explanation below!

Scientists recently documented that influenza spreads around the world more efficiently in the modern era due to commercial air travel. Symptoms of a pandemic-level flu are severe enough that the ill would likely cancel or reschedule air travel, but an infected person can travel across the globe before the first signs appear. Further, if symptoms develop while someone is still on a plane, the infected person’s cough can spread the virus easily in the enclosed and closely packed environment.

Which of the following would best minimize the role air travel can play in the spread of influenza during a pandemic?

(A) installing air filtration systems in the planes to kill any flu virus particles flowing through the filters
(B) requiring air travelers to receive flu vaccinations far enough in advance of the trip to provide protection against the disease
(C) refusing to allow children, the elderly, or others who are especially vulnerable to flu to travel by air during a pandemic
(D) requiring all air travelers to wash their hands before boarding a plane
(E) conducting medical examinations during the boarding process to weed out passengers with flu symptoms


Conclusion: Influenza spreads more rapidly b/c of airplanes.

Evidence: Infected person can travel before symptoms appear & spread illness

Question Rephrase: How could air travel stop the spread of disease?

Prediction: If there was a way to make sure people who boarded were not ill, or if there was a way they couldn’t spread it once on the plane.

A – Yes, this stops the spread on the plane, but could still let the ill people fly
B – Yes, this stops the ill people from flying
C – No, this only stops certain ill people from flying
D – No, hand washing doesn’t prevent those already ill from flying
E – No, the passage states that people can travel before “first signs appear” so the examinations would likely be ineffective

Between A and B, my choice would be B since it prevents the ill from flying altogether and would therefore “best minimize.”

Remember that the correct answer is going to be the one based on the information from the passage. The passage only gave 2 pieces of evidence: (1) sick people travel before symptoms, and (2) sick people spread illness within the cabin.

Repeated vaccinations and whether a person would reschedule/cancel travel are two issues that are not mentioned and are entirely outside the scope of the passage. Be careful not to use outside information. Follow the logic of the passage.