25 Slices of Advice for Incoming Freshmen

Natalie Monger Campus Events, Computer Science, Natalie, Students, Trojan Spirit, Viterbi Life, Why USC, Women In Engineering Leave a Comment

Dear incoming freshmen,

Congratulations! I can’t wait to see you on campus soon. In celebration of you as you join the Trojan family, I’d like to share some of my greatest pieces of advice for freshmen. Most of these I learned (the hard way!) during my freshman year. So, I’d like to make your transition smoother with some pieces of advice that you may not necessarily get from your parents or professors. Read on and fight on!

  1. Make a USC-specific bucket list with your friends. You should try to complete it before you graduate. Here is a good example.
  2. You will make mistakes in college. Instead of feeling frustrated with yourself, learn from them!
  3. Always eat dessert!
  4. Sit near the front of your classes, especially if they are held in big lecture halls. This way, you won’t be tempted with distractions, and your professors will begin to recognize you and notice that you’re working hard.
  5. Don’t be afraid of your professors. They are real people, too! If you attend their office hours, they will be happy to tell you stories about their lives and even give you advice on your own life.
  6. In college, classes rarely ever give extra credit. Work hard on all assignments because every little percentage point counts.
  7. Become best friends with your RA. He or she went through freshman year recently and can give you great tips on how to manage your time in college.
  8. Attend many different club meetings your first semester. Then, as second semester and sophomore year begin, start to narrow your extracurricular activities down to one or two you really love. Then, pursue leadership positions!
  9. Unlike high school, you usually can’t start a college assignment the night before and still get a good grade. Start early!
  10. If your declared major is not what you expected or what you enjoy, it’s okay to switch your major as you learn more about yourself and your interests.
  11. You won’t be as physically active in college as you were in high school, so it’s important to plan workouts into your busy schedule or join an intramural team. You’ll thank yourself later!
  12. Always take free stuff when it’s given to you. The involvement fair and various club meetings have free items including t-shirts, water bottles, and even food!
  13. Create friendships with upperclassmen, and keep them close. They will be a valuable source of information and help during times when you need them the most.
  14. If you have a free hour or two, find a tree on campus, set up a hammock with your friends, and “people watch.” It will probably remind you of how lucky you are to go to school here.
  15. Save the coffee for the times you really need to stay up and study (AKA, finals week). Organic green tea is healthier and has the same energizing effect that coffee does.
  16. Yes, finals are notoriously stressful. Make a “finals binder” and add content to it each week. This way, when finals week comes around, you are already organized and can devote your time to reviewing material.
  17. No matter how stressed you are, keep fighting on to get through the semester! USC has lots of great wellness resources for you if you need them.
  18. Buy lots of headphones and keep them in every bag you own and in your dorm room as well. There will be many situations where you will want to put on some earbuds and escape the noise, so be prepared!
  19. Experience the arts on campus! Each week, there are many dance, theater, and visual arts shows on campus hosted by Visions and Voices and various major programs.
  20. If you want to do an internship in the summer, start applying in September and October. Spots fill up quickly.
  21. Put a small whiteboard up by your door and write important reminders on there so you see them each morning when you leave.
  22. Take a weekend trip to a nearby city once a month with your friends.
  23. You don’t have to have your entire life planned out right now. People will often ask you, “So, what do you plan to do with your major after college?” Don’t be worried about this! It’s okay if you don’t know yet.
  24. From my experience, handwritten notes are more effective. They are especially easier in math and science classes where it takes lots of time to create certain symbols and notations on the computer. Also, it’s much easier to get distracted by the Internet and your email if you take notes on your laptop. Buy notebooks for each class and see how handwritten notes go. If you can’t write everything down in time, then you can try using your computer!
  25. If you ever need a mood booster as to how amazing and unique you are, read your college application essays to see why USC chose YOU to join the Trojan family!

As an added bonus, I’m sharing my favorite places that give student discounts. (Just bring your fancy USC ID with you!)


  • J. Crew, 15% off
  • Topshop, 10% off
  • Banana Republic, 15% off
  • Charlotte Russe, 10% off
  • Madewell, 15% off
  • Kate Spade, 15% off
  • Ann Taylor, 15% off
  • Steve Madden, 10% off
  • Vineyard Vines, 15% off


  • Subway, 10% off
  • Buca Di Beppo, 10% off
  • Chick-Fil-A, free drink
  • Chipotle, free drink
  • Papa John’s, 10-20% off
  • IHOP, 10% off


  • AMC Theaters, General Student Discount
  • Spotify, 50% off


  • Apple, $200 off a new Mac
  • Best Buy, Special Discounts
  • Adobe, 10-80% off
  • Microsoft, 10% off

I hope you enjoy your freshman year!

Natalie Monger

Natalie Monger

Meet Natalie

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