It is no small feat for an American university to hold its position among the best-ranked academic institutions and the best places for college students to have a great time.
As it turns out, the school with highly-acclaimed programs in video game development, real estate, and international business also boasts some of the most enthusiastic sports fans, social butterflies, and revelers.
The University of Southern California is a west coast paradise for students committed to working and playing hard.
The year-round high temperature hovers at 70 degrees or above and the campus is a less than a two-hour drive from beautiful places like Malibu, Santa Catalina Island, Santa Barbara, and Palm Springs.
On almost any day of the week in Los Angeles, students at USC have ample opportunities to take a break from the books and unwind.
While most undergraduates stick to house parties and Greek life events, there is also plenty to explore off-campus.
Situated near the beach and among a plethora of sports arenas and concert venues, USC has something to offer for all of its 50,000 students.
Read ahead to learn more about USC’s clubs, fraternity and sorority scene, nightlife, and other exciting campus activities.
Is USC a Party School
USC is one of the premiere party schools in the nation. The Trojans have regularly been ranked in the top ten party school lists for years.
Greek life is at the epicenter of USC social happenings. Over a quarter of males and females are members of fraternities or sororities, and their registered parties are some of the biggest events on campus.
Three of the most popular gatherings of the year are Welcome Back Week, Conquest, and Springfest. During the Welcome Experience, USC hosts activities ranging from game nights and scavenger hunts to tea parties and club fairs.
Conquest celebrates the UCLA vs. USC rivalry with a concert leading up to their football game, while Springfest is a free concert with previous headlining acts such as Diplo and 2 Chainz. In addition to live music, Springfest also includes arcade games, food trucks, and big crowds.
The Campus Activities division at USC offers free late night programs on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays to students every week. Past events include trips to the theater or roller rink, paint nights, and game nights.
USC also hosts concerts, pep rallies, conferences, lectures, and a variety of cultural events sponsored by its more than 850 student clubs. With so many ways to show school spirit and get involved on campus, it is no surprise that USC is one of the top party schools in the nation.
What Kinds of Clubs are at USC?
USC’s club offerings serve professional, recreational, philanthropic, and creative purposes. One of the best professional clubs is the USC LavaLab.
Each semester, the LavaLab organizes a cohort of 28 student designers, developers, and project coordinators into small teams of four, all for the purpose of creating a start-up company from scratch.
Participants learn how to develop a product, innovate, and oversee various aspects of a large-scale project.
Cohort members will also hear from guest speakers as illustrious as Elon Musk, go on retreats with their teammates, and attend alumni-led workshops on various professional topics.
Several popular clubs – like the Healing Process and Active Mind – are dedicated to health and wellbeing.
Active Mind is committed to heightening awareness of mental health issues and combating the stigma of anxiety and depression through offering group activities, therapy sessions, and peer exercises.
The Healing Process combines a passion for health and wellbeing with a talent for art and literature. Club members produce a biannual magazine that explores health topics through drawings, poetry, stories, and other artwork.
Interested in mentorship or community service? Women and Youth Supporting Each Other (WYSE) provides mentoring services to middle school-aged female students.
On the other hand, Best Buddies pairs USC students with adults in the Los Angeles area who live with a disability of some sort. Pairs attend sporting events or other fun activities together while meeting twice monthly.
One of the most popular and oldest philanthropic organizations on campus is the USC Helenes. They serve USC and several nonprofit groups in the greater Los Angeles area, such as the Downtown Women’s Center, 32nd Street School, and CSU/Expo Urban Mini Farm.
Helenes are also considered to be the spirit leaders at basketball games and other campus-wide events. They can typically be seen face-painting, leading chants, and making USC-themed crafts.
Troy Camp is another well-respected campus group that provides long-term mentor relationships with students in South LA.
They also host an annual week-long summer camp in the mountains of San Bernardino for several hundred elementary school students.
With so many attendees, it is to be expected that there are more talented athletes than there are spots on USC’s combined sports teams. From Brazilian jiu-jitsu and belly dancing to dragon boat racing and table tennis, USC has a club for athletes of all inclinations.
Those who are more artistically inclined will enjoy a variety of performing and visual arts offerings. The Concerto Chamber Orchestra, for instance, is a student-led group open to performers of all skill levels. They perform two concerts each semester.
Decipher is the university’s sole club dedicated to freestyle rapping – members attend presentations on the evolution of the genre, hear from popular guest speakers, and go on regular trips through Los Angeles to perform in public cyphers.
There is even an on-campus magic club! Members learn tricks together and unite to preserve the history of magic and promote it as an entertainment medium.
Overall, there are 22 chapters on campus representing the Asian Greek Council, Multicultural Greek Council, National Panhellenic Council, and Panhellenic Council. 27% of USC female students are members of a sorority, and even more students attend recruitment events in the fall and spring semesters.
USC’s sororities are united by a diverse set of values. Sigma Lambda Gamma is the largest historically Latina-based national sorority, while sororities like Kappa Kappa Gamma promote a commitment to campus leadership.
Their members lead USC campus groups such as the Undergraduate Student Government, ROTC, and the Joint Education Program.
Obviously, there is a significant social appeal to joining a sorority at USC. Alpha Chi Omega and many other chapters host four “invites” a year, including Beach Bash and a semi-formal in the fall, and formal/informal events in the spring.
Members invite a date to themed events like “You Are What You Netflix” and “So 2000s.”
Sororities often co-host “exchanges” with several campus fraternities within the course of a year, with the goal being to get better acquainted. Previous themes have included “Pajama Party,” “Holidaze” and “Rep Your Hometown.”
In total, there are 25 on-campus fraternities representing the Multicultural Greek Council, Interfraternity Council, and National Panhellenic Council. Almost any night of the week, a fraternity puts on some sort of themed party.
Tau Kappa Epsilon’s registered parties are, without a doubt, the most extravagant and highly-attended parties at USC every year.
Events like Brochella and Tropik Thunder include professional DJ sets, concert-level production equipment, and decorations as expansive as lagoons, waterfalls, and rainforests.
Phi Delta members embark on many excursions throughout the year, including deep-sea fishing and skiing trips, national park visits, concerts, and music festivals.
Many of USC’s fraternities also find strength in their diversity of membership. Lambda Theta Phi is the largest and oldest Latino fraternity in the United States, while Gamma Zeta Alpha is a smaller Latino-interest fraternity dedicated to community service.
Gamma Zeta Alpha hosts fundraisers and events like TRIO Scholars, the Academic Decathlon, and Dia de Los Jornaleros. During rush, members and recruits might be found bowling, devouring tacos, or competing in a friendly basketball tournament.
Nightlife in Los Angeles – What Is There to Do?
While most students stick to campus for their undergraduate revelry, students ages 21 and older enjoy “exclusively” senior audiences at places like Exchange LA and 901 Grill & Bar.
Students looking for other forms of fun can be found at the Santa Monica Pier, which offers various restaurants, amusement park rides, and boutiques. Olvera Street serves up Mexican-American cuisine along with murals and street dancing performances.
LA’s bus and train system grants access to some of LA’s best neighborhoods. Students can listen to jazz music at The Grove, relax at Venice Beach, or hop from club to club at Hollywood & Vine.
Of course, in the fall, weekend nights are often spent celebrating a USC football victory. Students begin tailgating as early as six hours prior to kick-off!
The Conquest game between USC and UCLA is obviously a huge event, and for over 100 years, the Trojan Knights have spent all of the rivalry week protecting campus mascots and statues from being vandalized or stolen.
Through its vast social network, USC brings together students from different backgrounds and locations and unites them through shared talents and interests.