My final review is likely going to be a little light on information, so I’ll apologize in advance for that. By the end of the trip, my daughter had gotten pretty good at getting a feel for a school early on in the tour, which didn’t bode well for actually finishing the tour of University of San Diego.
First, a little background on how this made the list: When we started planning this trip a few months earlier, we’d never heard of USD. While talking about the trip with some friends (parents of two of our daughter’s friends), the wife mentioned she’d gone to USD, and asked us if it was on our list. At that point, we only had UCSD and SDSU on the list for San Diego, and were only planning on spending a day down there. She gave us some basic information on it, like size (~9k students when she went), that it was a Catholic university, and that she enjoyed her time there. The size of the school was really appealing to my wife and I, so we added it to the list.
In my previous review, I mentioned that we left the UCSD campus tour early in order to make it on time. It’s good we did, as the parking situation was a bit of a nightmare. We were told to park in one of the first lots we came to after passing the guard gate, which put us at the bottom of the fairly steep hill the campus sits on. Once parked, we were supposed to wait for a shuttle to take us up to campus. When we got to the shuttle stop, there were quite a few other people there waiting for it. I’m pretty sure we all stood there for about 15 minutes before the shuttle showed up. Realistically, we needed a full size bus to fit everyone, so the regular sized shuttle that showed up wasn’t enough to fit everyone. I’d estimate there were about a dozen people left behind, including the father of my daughter’s friend that was out there with us. Since it was already time for the tour to start when we got on the bus, he decided to walk it and catch up with us, as he had no interest in waiting another 15 minutes for the one shuttle to come back around.
When we got up to the check-in table, they quickly gave us the info packets and directed us to one of the groups that was already starting the tour. The groups were pretty big, which was surprising. I’d say there were more people there to tour USD that day than any other school we’d seen, which was saying a lot, considering the schools we’d seen. In part, I think this was because they had several hundred (at least) high school aged students arriving for what looked like a large scale multi-church youth group getaway. A couple dozen of them were in our tour group. so it looked like they were taking the opportunity to check out the school along with the rest of those touring the campus.
The down side to this was that we were unable to see a decent chunk of the campus. If you look at the campus map, the tour started in the courtyard outside of the admissions office, and we basically couldn’t go anywhere to the right of building 30, which is two buildings to the right of the admissions office. Our guide basically just stood with us at the entrance to building 30 and pointed down to different areas down Torero Way, telling us what they were and apologizing for not being able to go down there. A bummer, but it couldn’t be helped.
The campus itself was very beautiful, with some really cool architecture. I’ve read that they spend roughly a million a year on landscaping, and after seeing the campus it wouldn’t surprise me. While on the tour, the guide emphasized that USD was welcoming of all religeous views and wasn’t governed by the Diocese of San Diego anymore. Walking through some of the buildings gave us a different impression, however. Funny thing was, I heard more than one family echo similar sentiments. The halls of the two main buildings we saw were adorned with the traditional Catholic elements, and we really felt the Catholic influence of the school far more than we did at Loyola. I’m not saying any of this to disparage the school, I just think it’s a bit disingenuous to have the guides playing down the Catholic influence that is so obviously present. If you’re a Catholic school, own it :).
We followed the tour for about 30 minutes before the 5 of us decided we’d seen enough. Despite the beautiful campus, neither of the kids were feeling it, and neither were the parents. I will say that the school has a great view of the city:
The dorm room we were shown in Maher Hall (R4 on the campus map) was pretty nice, as well. Sorry, no pictures of that. The number of people on the tour made it impossible to get a shot off without a bunch of people blocking me. It wasn’t long after we saw the dorm that we split off and hiked back down the hill to the parking lot. I’d say we were probably the 3rd group to split off and head out.
This wraps it up for my campus tour reviews. In my next post I’m going to cover our conclusions from the trip, and a recap of which schools she’ll be applying to. Hope you’re finding this useful!