Hey Adam, I can provide perspective on two of those schools - University of South Carolina and NC
State since I received my B.A. from USC and am receiving my Masters from NC
State. I can only speak generally about the HESA programs at both schools, but both are pretty good. Going into information about both schools
University of South Carolina
is one of the two flagship schools of South Carolina, the other being Clemson. USC
is located in downtown Columbia, SC
. While the campus is downtown, it doesn't really have an "urban" feel. Case in point - the Horseshoe, which is the original USC campus, dating back to 1801.
While being a big school in terms of enrollment (over 27,000) the campus has a small feel and it's possible to walk from one end to another in 20-30 minutes, or rather the main portion of campus. South campus (everything below Wheat St, which is mostly athletic facilities, a few residence halls, and engineering) is another story.
Lots of graduate assistantships in various fields - I'm not sure where you're looking at going, but if you're wanting to do Housing, USC
has a wide variety of residence hall types, including Preston Residential College (where I lived for 3 years), health and wellness communities, "interest" communities (pre-med, engineering, etc), and types of halls.
Columbia itself is a medium-sized city - the main gripe is there's stuff to do but not a LOT to do. The centers of student life are Five Points (located Southeast of campus) and the Vista (slightly more upscale, located West of campus). Columbia's got a minor league hockey team, the Columbia Inferno, and that's it sportswise. Culturally, Columbia is home to the South Carolina Philharmonic and the University of South Carolina Symphony (both of which are excellent orchestras), two ballet companies, and three theatre companies. Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia is consistently rated one of the top zoos in the nation. Lake Murray, about 20 minutes from campus is a great spot to relax. Columbia's also in the middle of the state and you're no more than 1.5 hours from the mountains or the beach. Cost of living is VERY reasonable and the area around USC's campus has lots of rental opportunities. On-campus housing for graduate students, unless you're doing Housing, sucks and is limited to Cliff Garden Apartments which is in that south portion of campus.
Lastly, aviation-wise, CAE
is about 10-15 minutes from campus and is served by DL
, US, NW
, and CO
North Carolina State University
NCSU is one of North Carolina's two flagship universities, the other being UNC. It's located on the Western edge of downtown Raleigh, although not downtown itself. Again, parts can be urban, parts can be really pretty like the Court of North Carolina
It's enrollment isn't as big as USC's (22,000 for NC
State) but campus is big enough that you're going to want to get acquainted with the Wolfline busses. There's a good amount of on-campus parking for grad students, and the Coliseum Deck is in easy walking distance of where most of the HESA classes are. My only complaint about campus itself is that it's split roughly in half by train tracks. There are a series of 3 pedestrian tunnels which connect the two halves of campus, so you sometimes have to go a little out of your way to get to a tunnel.
Again, lots of graduate assistantships, lots of varieties in Housing if that's your bag. My only warning (and this is from personal experience) is that if you come here, start the process to become a NC
resident IMMEDIATELY because it takes a year waiting period after you've done the requisite steps. I say this because any assistantship you have can be terminated after a single year if you maintain out of state residency.
Raleigh is a larger city than Columbia, especially when added in with Durham and Chapel Hill, both of which are about a half hour west of Raleigh. Both are also home to major colleges (Duke and UNC, respectively), so the community is very "college friendly." Hillsborough Street, which fronts NC
State's campus, has lots of coffee shops and restaurants, and a few bars. Sportswise, Raleigh is home to the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes (who usually have ticket discounts for students) and there are tow minor league baseball teams within half an hour's drive - the Durham Bulls and Carolina Mudcats. Culturally, Raleigh is very diverse and there are a wide variety of concerts and events going on at any point in time. The North Carolina Museum of Art, for instance, has an outdoor theatre that they do movies and concerts at, lots of clubs nearby that see all sorts of talent, and the RBC Center and the Walnut Creek Ampitheatre see lots of major national acts. My gripe about Raleigh is its distance from stuff - 2 hours from the beach, 5 hours from the mountains.
Again, reasonable cost of living, though higher than Columbia and with higher taxes. Lots of rental opportunities, but NC
State has great graduate on-campus housing, especially the new Wolf Village apartments which are for sophomore older than 20, juniors, seniors, and grad students. Each apartment comes fully furnished (washer/dryer, kitchenette, fridge, stove, oven, microwave). You share the apartment with 3 other students - each have single rooms and you share a bathroom with one other person. If you want to live alone, there's also Western Manor (a bit off campus, but still on a Wolfline route), which is open to grad students and students with families. They come unfurnished and you also have to pay monthly rent (as opposed to semesterly housing costs) and pay for your own cable and internet.
Lastly, aviation-wise, RDU
is about 15 minutes from campus and is served by FL
(starting in July), CO
, US, UA
, and AC
That's the rundown - if there's anything more specific you'd like to know about either place, feel free to ask in thread or e-mail me
South Carolina - too small to be its own country, too big to be a mental asylum.