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Questions about UIUC and USC


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I am admitted to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Professional MCS and University of Southern California (USC) MS CS (Technical Professional) for Fall 2015. I would like to get some opinion from UIUC or USC CS graduates, current students, faculties, staff, or anyone who might have some information which can help in the decision-making process.

My background and consideration:

  • 1 year experience as software developer and 6 years as web developer in the US, and 1.5 years as data analyst overseas.
  • I want to go back into the industry after I graduate. I am not interested in research or continuing to PhD.
    • UIUC is more well-known, but USC is location-wise closer to tech companies. Which factor do you think is more important during job-hunting?
  • Area of interest: software engineering, web development, mobile development, general programming, and database.
    • Which university is better suited for my area of interest above?
  • If the school has some courses which teach languages/technologies currently used in the industry (Python, Ruby, PHP, Objective C, etc.), then that's a plus. I understand that I can learn these on my own, but taking an actual course gives me more motivation :) And it does not necessarily have to be in the form of a formal class either, workshops are fine.
    • I know USC has some of these courses through their Information Technology Program (ITP). Does UIUC offer similar courses or workshops?
  • Security concerns.
    • I didn't think about this when I looked for schools to apply but I've been warned by a few people (one of them is USC graduate) that USC is located in a dangerous neighborhood. I was told that there were a few horrible incidents and that I had to take extra precautions (things like stay at home when it is already dark outside) if I were to attend there. The thing is when I did my Bachelor degree in CS, there were countless of times where I had to take evening classes or stay late in the computer lab for my school assignments, so I'm just wondering if this security concern will be detrimental to my studies.
    • How is the security in Urbana-Champaign? I know we still have to be careful one way or another, but is the school/town generally safe?
  • Some additional questions for those who have studied in USC or UIUC:
    • What do you like and what don't you like about the school or the CS department?
    • How supportive and helpful are the International Student Office and Career Center?

Thank you! Your opinion is greatly appreciated.

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What you heard about USC being in a dangerous ghetto area is accurate. Have you heard of South Central LA? This is precisely where USC is located. There has been repeated incidence where students/non-students got mugged and murdered within the neighborhood. Most notably, Chinese graduate students seem to be the ones targeted by criminals living in the area as there have been multiple (not just one isolated event) crimes where Chinese graduate students were murdered. The news regarding repeated security issue around USC made national headlines and you can search for the stories for detail. USC officials have since installed a lot of security cameras around campus, but I am not positive how effective that will be. And if I am a student, I would not feel good to walk around campus knowing there are so many security cameras watching me and other students..... it's just depressing and feels like living in a jail.


Go with UIUC. UIUC is much much much higher ranked than USC anyways. Why would you risk your life to go to a much lower ranked place where the security is notoriously bad and you'll likely be watched under security camera every time you go on campus.


Did I mentioned UIUC will cost you much less than USC where you will for sure overpay for lower-ranked degree?

Edited by UCLAColumbiaUNC
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