USC: In Defense of a Half Million Dollars

Enough already.

I’m tired of people snickering that USC, my old alma mater, isn’t worth the half-million-dollar bribe that actress Lori Loughlin allegedly paid to get her two daughters in the school.

Here’s just a sample of the put downs:  John Podhoretz (University of Chicago), editor of Commentary, said in Commentary’s podcast last week: “…there’s a lot of humor in the hoity toity precincts of America of which I travel, the hilarity of paying all this money to get into USC. Like really? USC? Who wants to go to USC?” Investment manager Peter Schiff (UC Berkeley) on his podcast said, “When I was in California, it was easy to get into USC. It wasn’t a big deal.” He recalled football games when Cal played USC and Cal students waived their credit cards — meaning all you need to do to get into USC was to pay the tuition.  The tired old moniker, University of Spoiled Children, resurfaced all over the tabloids.

I admit that USC fell short on some things.  In my case, the M.R.S. degree I was told that would come with my B.A. never materialized – I’m still single. And as for the USC girl’s motto “Never too thin. Never too rich. Never too tan,” prompted one colleague (Duke) to say that I’ve only achieved two out of the three.  I’m Asian and 112 pounds, if that’s any indication of what’s still missing.

Well, I thought I got a good education. I learned of Von Hayek, Von Mises, Schumpeter, and the Laffer Curve.   I wrote a paper in Media Economics on why we should get rid of public television.  I learned how missile throw-weights are calculated, as well as the difference between Deterrence and Defense. I solved physics problems in Astronomy — though not so well.  And while I knew of the Book of Job, it was in Classics where I actually had to read it.

Then there were the perks.  There was the free hourly tram that took us to Westwood and our UCLA buddies on weekends (not much happening on campus in those days) and the student rush tickets to the American Ballet Theatre at the Shrine Auditorium.  For $5, I saw Godunov and Baryshnikov dance.

I also learned courage. At the School of International Relations, called the Von KleinSmid Center at the time, there hung the permanent sign: “Bomb threat: Enter at your own risk.”

Finally, I attribute my USC connection to getting my very first job, at age 22, in the Reagan White House.  BTW, that’s where I met John Podhoretz – he was 26.  But even better, these days I now have the pleasure of working with two other Trojans – Lance and Tim.

Take that Harvard and Yale!

Rowena Itchon is senior vice president of the Pacific Research Institute.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

Scroll to Top