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USC vs. Syracuse


KAMALAGRAD
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So I was all set to go to Syracuse when today I just found out I got into USC. I had thought my craptastic GRE scores would keep me out of the running, but I guess the USC adcomm saw past them. The bad part is that at least with USC, they have flat out told me that I will not be considered for any merit-based scholarships or assistantships.

So thought, I'd get some fellow posters advice. Also, the specific programs I got into were print journalism for USC and magazine, newspaper and online journalism for Syracuse.

Here are also some categories I have thought out and who I think wins.

Cost: Syracuse is only $36,000 a year and is a one year program, while USC cost $54,000 a year and is a two year program. I have not gotten the info back about Syracuse scholarships/financial aid(should be in, within the next few days), but just given this info, I think the winner is clear. Winner: Syracuse.

Location: Yes, most people would probably go with USC, but I am an East Coaster originally, who has been living in southern California for what feels like far too long. Winner: Syracuse.

Prestige: This is where USC really seems to have an advantage. While Syracuse's Newhouse college has a great reputation, USC in general is a big deal and there journalism school is no exception. Winner: USC.

Ability to Advance in Academics for a PhD: Both USC and Syracuse have PhD programs that I may be interested in based on how well I enjoy my master's program. However, there are other PhD programs I am interested in, at least somewhat in communication in other schools. I would have to say that in getting into these programs, having two years to build up a more impressive academic record in a school that generally has a better reputation would work to my advantage. Winner: USC.

For what it is worth in the roughly two weeks I have to decide I have really been leaning toward Syracuse. I even went so far as to think that I would only consider USC if they offered me a really good financial aid package, which is obviously not the case. However, actually receiving that nice, fat acceptance letter gives a feeling that really can't be prepared for.

So any advice? Comments? Suggestions?

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I would take the Syracuse offer. It's a great school and the program you describe seems more flexible. It's a lot less expensive in a field where it would be ridiculous to take mammoth loans to support yourself and you'd also be able to get a job quicker to start paying back your loans.

Having said that, i can understand your difficulty! I too am torn between two schools and the choice looks obvious, but the heart wants what it wants.

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Wow, great options. Tough choice, but...

I would go to Syracuse!

I considered applying to USC. I know awesome people who go to the Annenberg School. I think their PhD offering sounds fantastic. But, while USC is better known -- at least on the West Coast -- from what I've seen, I don't think USC's reputation is going to get you that much further than Syracuse's near anonymity. (If you move back to the East Coast at some point, Syracuse may offer more connections for you anyhow!) For me, USC's rep. wouldn't be reason enough to incur that much debt.

That said, I am really anti-debt. Especially in journalism.

After looking into USC more, I felt strongly that the SoCal area wasn't a good journalism practice ground for my interests, and I wouldn't want to spend two years there. If you already feel like you've spent too much time there, that doesn't sound like a location that will encourage you to continue for your PhD. Meanwhile, Syracuse nets you great New York connections and gets you back on the East Coast.

I wish I had known more about Syracuse before I applied to graduate schools. It was off my radar until recently, but it sounds like a great up-and-comer in the top J-School rankings. The opportunity to be part of building their reputation would be exciting. It's nice that, compared to other schools, I haven't heard one bad thing about Syracuse. Their program offerings look stellar. It'd be a win to go there. (I still hope you get funding!)

Maybe now is a good time to enquire about how Syracuse's one year program can still support your PhD aspirations? I'm sure there are things you can do, but I haven't researched it much myself. Judging from their program titles, though, I'm not sure two years in a "print journalism" track is going to make you more Communications PhD-ready than one year at Syracuse; their program sounds more comprehensive and possibly comparative, which is probably better prep! If you have a relevant undergraduate degree as well, I wouldn't worry so much about your graduate school choice as long as you have focused aspirations.

How long do you have left to decide, and are you interested in Columbia if you get off their wait list? Also, what does your intuition tell you?

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Wow, great options. Tough choice, but...

I would go to Syracuse!

I considered applying to USC. I know awesome people who go to the Annenberg School. I think their PhD offering sounds fantastic. But, while USC is better known -- at least on the West Coast -- from what I've seen, I don't think USC's reputation is going to get you that much further than Syracuse's near anonymity. (If you move back to the East Coast at some point, Syracuse may offer more connections for you anyhow!) For me, USC's rep. wouldn't be reason enough to incur that much debt.

That said, I am really anti-debt. Especially in journalism.

After looking into USC more, I felt strongly that the SoCal area wasn't a good journalism practice ground for my interests, and I wouldn't want to spend two years there. If you already feel like you've spent too much time there, that doesn't sound like a location that will encourage you to continue for your PhD. Meanwhile, Syracuse nets you great New York connections and gets you back on the East Coast.

I wish I had known more about Syracuse before I applied to graduate schools. It was off my radar until recently, but it sounds like a great up-and-comer in the top J-School rankings. The opportunity to be part of building their reputation would be exciting. It's nice that, compared to other schools, I haven't heard one bad thing about Syracuse. Their program offerings look stellar. It'd be a win to go there. (I still hope you get funding!)

Maybe now is a good time to enquire about how Syracuse's one year program can still support your PhD aspirations? I'm sure there are things you can do, but I haven't researched it much myself. Judging from their program titles, though, I'm not sure two years in a "print journalism" track is going to make you more Communications PhD-ready than one year at Syracuse; their program sounds more comprehensive and possibly comparative, which is probably better prep! If you have a relevant undergraduate degree as well, I wouldn't worry so much about your graduate school choice as long as you have focused aspirations.

How long do you have left to decide, and are you interested in Columbia if you get off their wait list? Also, what does your intuition tell you?

Hey guys,

Thanks for the feedback!

In regard to your questions Jae B., I have an undergrad degree double majoring in literary journalism and film studies, so no problem as it relates to being related to my future field of study. I have until April 30 to let USC know if I want to accept their offer and until May 3 to let Syracuse now. Syracuse also requires a $450 commitment deposit at that time, whereas USC does not. I know that seems pretty insignificant in the long run, but I thought it was worth mentioning as it relates to your next question. I am still on the wait list for Columbia and would go definitely go there, if I got moved up to acceptance. However, Columbia does not inform students that they are taken off the wait list until most likely much later than Syracuse's deadline. So, with that in mind if I take Syracuse's offer and then get accepted into Columbia I run the risk of wasting $450. I know with numbers like $54,000 being mentioned $450 seems like nothing, but still it never feels good for a starving grad student to throw out that much.

At any rate, I'm not very optimistic about Columbia's wait list as when I called about it they refused to tell me anything. Also, I know that wait list much more often than not do not work out.

I'm still looking forward to see what Syracuse has to offer in terms of aid. Hopefully its enough to blow any thoughts of going to USC out of the water!

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