Ah, college. It’s the chapter in my life that I could never completely prepare myself for… and I’m glad that was the case! I like being kept on my toes 🙂 Back when I was a sophomore studying in Manila (Philippines), I knew I wanted to study abroad for college without a doubt. My driving force started off as a hunger for challenges, exposure to an international community and a holistic experience where I could pursue an engineering degree, dance to my heart’s content and play an active role in my community. Luckily, that hunger was satisfied.
It took a while for me to figure out what school would suit me best. I came from a small-town high school with a graduating class of 88 girls. Where would I thrive best? Thinking about all the things I’m interested in beyond math and science (dancing, teaching kids, writing, meeting people from all sorts of backgrounds), I knew I could probably find these activities at most universities. But USC stood out to me because the school had the academic and extra-curricular resources I was looking for — and a whole lot more.
I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do in college, but the vast opportunities at SC made it clear I was about to discover a whole lot of new things to challenge me. First, the Industrial and Systems Engineering program sounded really exciting. Looking through the class descriptions, I was genuinely interested in the field of study and could imagine myself exploring that career path. It was great that my Advisors at Viterbi helped guide me to the right path and tailor every semester to my needs, interests and goals.
What also struck me about USC is the strong focus on life after graduation. Trojan alumni are so strongly connected to the university! I’ve met tons of alumni who visit campus to get involved with students or tailgate and watch the SC football games. This ties in to the career-oriented nature of USC. Because students have frequent contact with alumni, we’re able to build our network and learn about what kinds of paths alumni took back when they were in our shoes. From my early days in freshman year, I felt a strong urge to seek out an internship. I felt like it was within my reach because of the range of information sessions and career events sponsored by the Viterbi School.
It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a unique small campus feeling despite the large student population. I really like the fact that there’s a tight-knit group within Viterbi. It made campus feel a little less overwhelming in my first year at SC.
Beyond academics, USC’s prime location in LA was a big draw to me. The close proximity to performance/concert halls, beaches, mountains, the Staples Center and tons of other venues naturally makes USC a hub of vibrant energy. There’s never a shortage of things to do around campus and the city. The cultural diversity at USC appealed to me, too. I knew I wouldn’t be the only international student and that I would meet students from all over the world as well as students who are eager to study abroad.
Overall, what stood out to me as a high school senior still stands out to me today. The student activities, career-centered academia, fantastic weather, academic flexibility and diversity at USC can’t be beat. I found the right fit for me.