Two years ago, at approximately this time, I sat in the same position as many high school seniors sit now. My mailbox began to fill with college admission decisions, and I, both excitedly and slightly anxiously, started the process of determining which university I would attend in the fall. After making multiple tables that used numerical scores to rank my potential school choices and countless pros and cons lists, I narrowed down my search to two great engineering institutions: The Georgia Institute of Technology (or Georgia Tech) and the University of Southern California.
When comparing Georgia Tech and USC, the two schools were largely similar. Both resided in an urban campus in a large city (something I wanted). Both schools had highly regarded engineering programs and placed an emphasis on research. Also important, Tech and USC had great school spirit and athletic programs, and, as a avid college sports fan, I could not pass up quality college sports for four years.
One stark difference stood out to me though. As a high school senior, I loved reading about the milestones reached by the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC. But I also felt inspired by the other programs USC had to offer. As I sat reviewing USC’s admission brochure, I pictured myself taking USC’s sailing course. I imagined sitting in USC’s film symposium course, watching blockbuster films before their release. I could not wait to attend performances by USC a cappella groups and to take an active part in USC’s Jewish life. I came to realize that, unlike Georgia Tech, USC was, and still is, more than an engineering school.
When people ask me why I chose USC over Georgia Tech, I normally shorten my answer to two words: academic diversity. And, as much as I love engineering, I am so happy to be surrounded by many friends and peers who share a variety of different interests. This semester, my roommate is a music industry major who is launching a fundraising campaign via his own music video for a special needs program. While working together in the room, we have discussed the fundraising campaign’s marketing strategies and how he will reach out to a maximum number of donors. Another great friend, Burt, is a film critical studies major in the School of Cinematic Arts. Through Burt, I have had the great experience of attending several movie and television show screenings in Hollywood and East Los Angeles. Jake, who is currently taking a semester “abroad” working for the Democratic Party in Washington DC, lived next door to me last semester, and we would often stay up late discussing American politics and the social problems facing the today’s world. USC’s academic diversity is not just created by its multitude of academic programs; USC’s academic diversity is manifested in its students. Burt, Jake, and my roommate Jonny have all enriched my life by providing different perspectives on academics and career goals, making my college experience all the more interesting. I do not think I would have gotten the same experience at Georgia Tech.
Have I taken sailing at USC yet? Yes, I have (see my previous blog to read about my sailing voyage), and I have also taken USC ballroom dancing. And I have my sights set on USC’s film symposium class for a future semester. Because of these academic opportunities and constant interaction with different-minded students, I am constantly intellectually stimulated and, most importantly, always happy, ready to take whatever challenges come at me under the Southern California sun.