Deciding you want to study engineering can be scary at first. People will try to tell you that there is no free time, that it’s impossible to get a solid GPA, that fellow engineers are bland and anti-social. As an extremely social and multi-faceted personality, these were the stereotypes that worried me most and almost deterred me from pursing my dreams of becoming an Environmental Engineer. After completing my freshman year at Viterbi, however, I have found all of these predispositions to be total fallacies.
Yes, we do have thick schedules for the most part. And yes, we have a heavier workload than other majors. Does engineering consume our lives? Absolutely not. Throughout a full week of class and work, engineers have time to participate in clubs or intramurals, workout, hang out with friends, or even have a job. Viterbi actually encourages its students to pursue their other interests by picking up a minor or joining clubs and sports. In fact, engineers make up one quarter of USC’s highly acclaimed and dedicated marching band woot woot!
Okay, so it is not easy to get A’s in college, but it is definitely doable. While getting good grades obviously requires hard work on the student’s be-half, Viterbi provides as many resources as possible to help us along! What really got me through chemistry and calculus this year, were SI “supplemental instruction” sessions. SI sessions are run by older students who have taken a particular class and received an A in it. These leaders hold free hour-long sessions throughout the week where they re-teach the material and work through examples and practice problems from homework or old exams. Finally, VARC, (Viterbi Academic Resource Center), provides free private tutoring sessions in any math, science, or engineering class by older students who know the material well. Between SI, VARC, and my TA’s office hours, there was never a moment I felt completely lost or hopeless when I was stuck on an impossible chapter or freaking out before an exam. These services are here for us…use them!!!
Whoever was responsible for the stereotype that engineers are dorky and boring were certainly not USC alums. This year I have met the most interesting, funny, and charismatic people in my engineering classes. Viterbi recognizes the importance of a balanced lifestyle and makes an extra effort to recruit a diverse variety of students that exhibit leadership skills and have unique interests. Four of my best friends actually happen to be engineering students and there are more engineering majors on the ski team than any other one major. These are some of the coolest kids on campus in my opinion (: Definitely take the time to know the kids in your classes; some of them may just end up being some of your best friends!!
While we go to college to receive a good education, we also go to college to explore new freedoms and interests, and develop our personalities. Viterbi respects this sentiment and encourages students to build their own college experience. After this year, I am confident that I have what it takes to receive an engineering degree and I am confident that I will have a good time doing it! Do not be afraid of engineering, embrace it!!