Upon entering college, you will be going from being a big fish in a small pond to being a small fish in a big pond. It was very exciting, but it can also be somewhat overwhelming. It was not until the end of my freshmen year that I really found a good group of people that I felt comfortable around and an environment which felt small and close. However, if I had to go back and do freshmen year over again, I would have been able to find that niche sooner.
For most of you, you are coming to a university away from home and leaving the people you know behind. i was terrified, but also very excited to be starting a new chapter of my life. It can be nerve-wracking, however, to move in with someone you have never met. My first piece of advice therefore, is to really take the time to find a good roommate. On the housing website, every freshmen fills out an application and part of it is a personality survey. I strongly suggest that you be honest with yourself about your habits and likes/dislikes. The website will then match you with people who have similar answers. I spent a good amount of time learning more about my “top matches”, and trying to find someone I could see myself getting along with. I have to say that I am really happy that I ended up finding such a great roommate freshmen year, and it really helped make my freshmen year amazing. Instead of having to feel frustrated or irritated with each other, we kept an open line of communication, and we were both similar people, so we meshed well together and had a lot of fun. We are still friends and enjoy reminiscing about freshmen year.
Once getting to USC, there will be an Involvement Fair the first week of classes. For this fair, hundreds of student organizations set up booths and try to get you to join their club. My freshmen year, I signed up for 5 clubs. After the fair, i only stayed in contact with one of them. If you enjoy getting involved like me, then you will also probably sign up for every club that looks cool. However, even though it might sound fun to be a member of multiple clubs, college is difficult and that level of extra-curricular involvement might prove overwhelming and stressful. Therefore, my second piece of advice is to take the time to find one or two organizations you really enjoy and dedicate your free time to it. There are so many people at USC, and joining a club reduces that big pond to small community. Being in organizations is where you develop friendships and make lifelong memories. Getting settled into an organization can help you in finding a niche.
Finally, as an engineer, you will work hard at USC. You have chosen this major because you are very intelligent and enjoy challenging yourself. However, you will not be able to get your college degree without some help along the way. When I was a freshmen, upperclassmen were always telling me how much I needed to find friends in my major and find a group to study with. I am somewhat of a shy person, and going up and introducing myself to complete strangers did not sound particularly appealing. However, finding a group of friends and developing a study group sooner rather than later can be incredibly advantageous for you, as you progress through your college career and the difficulty of your engineering classes increase. My third, and final piece of advice, is to be brave and meet people within your major during your freshmen year. I am so glad that I have the group of friends I have. These people all think like me, and we enjoy each others company. Whether we are working on homework or going out to see a movie, we enjoy hanging out, and I attribute a majority of my success in my classes to this study group of friends. I know that I could not have gotten through thermodynamics without having study sessions that went late into the night where 6 of us are buckling away through the problem set. In this case, 6 is better than 1.