So it seems like just yesterday this was happening ….
I was anxious about which college I was going to attend. Which colleges would I get into? Where would the best fit for me be? All of these questions were swirling through my head. I had applied to 14 different colleges and put countless hours of hard work into every application. Now it was a waiting game, when would I hear back, where would I get in, and would financial aid be in my favor.
Being from the east coast I had a lot of great options for school right around me. Even though I considered myself a competitive applicant after graduating valedictorian, I chose not to apply to any Ivy League schools because I didn’t find the fit to be right. I wanted a school that was collaborative, a school where I was not only given opportunities to study subjects outside of my field of interest but actually encouraged to do so, a place where I was inspired to work harder just because of what the students around me were doing, a place where I would never get bored, a place where I could grow and mature, and most importantly a place where I would constantly be smiling. A tall order indeed!
Now comes the crazy part. After getting all of my acceptances including UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, Boston College, Boston University, New York University, a full ride to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a honors program and tuition free acceptance to UMASS Amherst, I took one of the biggest leaps of faith of my life – commit to a school which I had never seen. Literally, I had never visited USC. Since finances were a big factor in my acceptance and I didn’t have the money to fly out and see schools I couldn’t actually see USC and the Viterbi School of Engineering in person. I conducted many days of research online, watched videos from the university and student ambassadors, contacted the admission department and tried to pin point why I was so attracted to the Viterbi School of Engineering – a school I had never seen – over all of my other options.
What it came down to was threefold: collaboration, seeking a sense of adventure/change, happiness. Viterbi was one of the few engineering schools that emphasized collaboration and interpersonal skills alongside of an engineering degree which I was super impressed with. I wanted to intertwine business and entrepreneurial skills into my engineering degree and this was definitely a great way to start. I liked how USC and Viterbi specifically encouraged multidisciplinary study. In addition, I also thought of college as a time to grow and become independent. Because of this I wanted to move to an area which would keep me entertained and have a lot going on all the time. Los Angeles seemed like a perfect fit and definitely seemed like a great place to explore for four years while escaping the cold winters of Boston – hey I’m not complaining if I can get a tan in January. Lastly, I just got a sense that everyone on campus was super happy – this was just a hunch. I confirmed this upon my first visit at orientation. Everyone truly loved going to school at USC and that made them try harder in their academics, extra-curriculars, and everything else they were doing. It is amazing what a sense of positivity and constant smiles do to an entire student population – it really is infectious.
With these things in mind my decision was easy to make. I committed to USC and saw the campus for the first time with my dad during orientation. My mom came with my for move-in day to see the campus and ever since then I have had a college experience that I truly believe I could not have had anywhere else. My gut was telling me to take a leap of faith, to go to the school all the way across the United States, to go explore LA, to dare to be comfortable with being uncomfortable in a new environment where I literally knew no one, to go to the school of my dreams. I can say that I have grown and learned so much from that decision, and it was probably the most important and life changing decision that I have made so far in my college.
I could tell you about the countless student organizations I have joined, the variety of leadership positions I have taken, how I was named “Viterbi King” at this year’s Viterbi Ball, the hands on experience I have gotten from Viterbi, the three internships I have had during my three summers I have been here, how I obtained the title of Mr. USC, my explorations around Los Angeles, and perhaps most importantly the life long friends I have made here …. but none of this would have been possible without the decision I made four years ago.
So with that I wish you luck with your college decision. I know it is a hard one but if you go where you believe you will be the most happy I have no doubt that success will be yours. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend,
Now Playing: City of Angels by 30 Seconds to Mars with California by Phantom Planet on deck. (I got nostalgic about my move from Boston to LA when I was writing this post)