I entered USC as an Undeclared Engineering major, and with my freshman year winding down, I still haven’t officially declared a discipline. At times, being undeclared has been challenging, but Viterbi has always been really accommodating. I appreciate the fact that I’ve been supported, encouraged, and advised, all without ever being pressured to choose a discipline before I was ready. My status as an Undeclared Engineering major is kind of a reflection of my personality – while many students enter Viterbi declared and later switch disciplines or emphases, I’m the type of person who takes longer to decide initially, but when I declare a discipline, I almost certainly won’t change my mind. The important thing is, if you’re undecided or thinking of switching paths, no matter which discipline you are, Viterbi will give you the resources you need to help you make it happen.
In my quest to find the right major, I’ve utilized a variety of excellent Viterbi resources. One of my favorites has been the Viterbi Spotlights. Viterbi Spotlights are panels held about once a month during the academic year, each aimed at a different engineering discipline. Each discipline’s spotlight has about four panelists, usually USC alumni or industry representatives who talk about their experiences, allowing you to hear what it’s really like to be an engineer. The spotlights are usually very Q&A based, and allow students to ask the questions that really matter to us. After attending almost every spotlight, I can honestly say that they were really helpful in educating me about the projects that various types of engineers work on, and what an average day in the life of a(n) (insert discipline here) engineer actually looks like. It may sound obvious, but if you’re thinking about switching disciplines or you haven’t declared a discipline, another great resource is your fellow USC engineering students and the Viterbi faculty. One of the most helpful things for me has been hearing about what my friends are doing in their classes, what they’re learning about, and the research they’re doing.
Finally, one of the most important resources is the Viterbi Academic Advisors. Outside of mandatory academic advising each semester (which is really helpful), the advisors also have walk-in advising hours, usually Mondays-Thursdays in the afternoon. I’ve dropped by during walk-in hours on more than one occasion when my registration has gotten complicated or I can’t get into a class I need to take. The advisors are always extremely helpful and definitely try to help you figure out the best thing to do in any situation. Since I’m still undeclared, I’ve been taking a lot of general engineering courses such as math and physics that are needed for every discipline. With the help of several advisors, I feel confident that I’m still on track to graduate in four-years in any of the disciplines I’m still considering.
Overall, I really appreciate that I’ve been encouraged and allowed the opportunity to explore a variety of disciplines, and figure out the best fit for me. It’s a great reminder that I truly couldn’t be part of a better engineering program.