USD is a small school that places a great deal of emphasis on small classes and giving students individual attention. A downside to this is that many classes, both intro level and upper division, have mandatory attendance or weigh participation in your final grade. The benefits are that your professors will know your name, your strengths, your weaknesses, and in some cases, your hobbies, and how you’re doing in other classes. This can be motivation to come to class and keep up with the material. There are no teaching assistants at USD, so it is easy to form close, personal relationships with faculty. Professors are required to have office hours, and it behooves students to go in and talk, either to ask for help or just to check in. After you declare a major, you are assigned an adviser who is a tenured faculty member in your department whose research interests go along with your professional interests (e.g., an English major interested in creative writing will be assigned an adviser who publishes short stories or poetry). This comes in handy when you are planning your courses because professors get to know and understand your personality and goals, and will help you build a meaningful schedule.
As a liberal arts school, USD has a broad core curriculum that is a burden for many students. In addition to the fairly standard math, science, and literature requirements, USD also requires students to take logic, ethics, fine arts, and three semesters of theology and religious studies. These courses can be admittedly tedious, and many students take core classes abroad for three weeks during summer or intersession, utilizing USD’s expansive study abroad program. This way students get a pretty easy three units and get to travel. Not bad.