Any time I hear the word ‘decision’ these days, it’s really hard for me to resist the urge to snicker. I instantly giggle thinking about the circus parade of a press conference- turned-dramatic tv special (“The Decision”) held by LeBron James on ESPN when announcing whether or not he would remain a Cavalier for the 2010-2011 season.
That said, feel fortunate that when you make your ‘decision’ about where to pursue your higher education, you won’t be scrutinized and judged by millions. And more than likely (though it’s not impossible), your decision probably won’t make anyone cry. Unless they are tears of joy for picking USC (JK, but not really. But I have plenty of time to be biased later)! Basically, this is a very exciting time, and try to view it in that light as opposed to just “stressful.” There are few other times in life when people are saying to you “Hey, you there! I want you! Come here!” It’s a wonderful time to feel accomplished and wanted, while planning out the next steps in your journey to prosperity and happiness. As obvious as it sounds, it’s really important to follow your instincts on this decision. Sometimes, the things and places you are most passionate about cannot be condensed onto paper. They are intangible feelings that one cannot merely ascribe to a list, or a quantifiable system. Let those feelings guide you. It’s definitely important to be practical and pragmatic while making decisions too, but try not to ignore how you feel because of a list.
That being said, college is truly what you make of it. I am a firm believer in the individual being the biggest shaper of his/her own college experience. I promise that wherever you go, if you enter with an open mind and an open heart, you will succeed personally and professionally. However, this doesn’t mean that some places won’t be a better “fit” for you than others. I think of colleges like jeans. You can find pairs/brands that are nice, that look good on you, that are well-respected and/or known, and that you can enjoy yourself in. Yet, there is a special bond between one’s self and the right pair of jeans, that is a divine blend of comfort, style, the right price, and the perfect fit. As any woman will tell you, a perfect pair of jeans is hard to find! So I wish you the best of luck in your search. Stay fierce, and no matter what, own your decision.
And now: WHY USC IS THE GREATEST SCHOOL ON THE PLANET
I think every student looks for a couple of the same, obvious things in a school. Well ranking program and academics for their chosen area of study, research opportunities (even if you aren’t necessarily planning to do research, it just sounds like nice option, right?), a couple nobel laureates on the faculty if possible, a great reputation , and for some, a certain type of weather. Once I chose a list of schools that fit that basic criteria, applied, and found out which ones I was accepted to, making a decision became a lot more about those not- so quantifiable qualities I touched on earlier. Personally, my decision came down to UC Berkeley, Columbia, or USC. For me, after visiting all three schools, USC ousted its competition. First and foremost, I came into college craving interdisciplinary studies. Engineering was important to me, but at the time so were journalism and political science. Columbia and Berkeley (and at least 3/4 of the other schools I applied to) did not have undergraduate journalism programs. Annenberg, the journalism school, is simply superb. They offer plenty of classes designated specifically for non-majors, and USC made it clear to me that I would even be able to create my own minor. Simply put, literally no other school could even get on USC’s level as far as having a boss engineering school, amazing journalism and business schools, and the most badass film school in the world, all at the disposal of undergraduates. Since coming here, I have happily settled into life as a student in the engineering, business, and film schools. I really don’t think I would be able to say that if I were a student elsewhere. It took USC’s diversity, and flexibility within my degree, to allow me the freedom to truly explore my passions.
After that, I’d say I chose USC because of
1. SPORTS. I am a huge sports enthusiast. WE ARE ARROGANT NATION. Trojan football is one of the most appealing things ever. Being one in/with a crowd of 90,000+ fans in the Coliseum on Saturdays in fall will be one of the most memorable aspects of college for me. Cheering on the team and cheering on the Greatest Marching Band in the History of the Universe (they really have the credentials to back it up too) are two things I take great pride in doing. For all you 2017’ers, remember when you’re choosing schools, you could come to a school that would allow you to witness your team win a BCS National Title (or a Rose Bowl at the very least) your freshman year. Just saying. And it’s nice to be able to spectate other sports. 4peating men’s waterpolo team? No problem. Best men’s tennis in the country? Catch a set between classes. Straight up amazing volleyball teams? Casual Friday night. There’s really no other time in life to witness any sport your heart desires, and more than likely, watch YOUR team win. I trust Trojan nation to get its basketball together soon-ish.
2. TRADITION. I never took myself for someone that cared about things like traditions, rivalries, and school spirit. I deemed stuff like that “silly” in high school, and took for granted how much I secretly loved it. But after visiting schools where people just didn’t care, I realized that I did care. Coming to USC, hearing about their rich history and “silly” traditions, seeing students that loved their school… it all resonated with me! I instantly knew I would be one of those people, because that’s just me. A campus doesn’t feel right without that high level of energy and love!
3. FAMILY. The Trojan Family that is. I’ll tell you right now, it’s not some myth. It’s real, and its alive. Wait until the first time you see a complete stranger “Fight on” on with you because you are proudly sporting a cardinal and gold sweatshirt. No longer will that stranger feel like a stranger. USC alumni look out for each other! The networking opportunities are awesome, and Trojans definitely care about Trojans. More than just jobs or internships, the Trojan family is a large unit that sticks together during the rough times and acts as a support system. You’ll have to experience it firsthand to understand how strong it is, because it’s indescribable. But just after two visits to campus I felt the power and truth in the The Trojan Family.
4. THE PEOPLE. Ok, I can understand how that sounds kind of silly. I wasn’t a student yet, how could I really know what the people would be like? But somehow, I did! The several dozens of people I met were THAT impressionable. First of all, given the diversity in available academics, there is an intense mix of diverse people as a result. Yet, everyone that I met had a couple of things in common. They were all friendly, intelligent, and loved their school! I was welcomed into over 10 different dorm rooms when I came to visit campus. Celine, current student and friend, showed me around campus when I came to visit. She introduced me to many of her friends at USC, and I had genuine conversations with every single one of them. They all offered to answer any questions I had about the school or student life. My favorite was a guy I met in Trojan Hall, the roommate of one of Celine’s friends. Although I was a complete stranger, just chilling in his room, he struck up a conversation with me. We talked about linear algebra, and the ski/snowboard team. The engineering school specifically, I realized, was especially akin to this heavenly well rounded-ness. All of the Viterbi students that I met seemed so well spoken and happy to share their experiences. Many of them had interests outside of engineering, that they were pursuing either in the form of actual coursework or extracurricular activities. Most importantly, they seemed happy (and pretty too! which never hurts)! And that was true of almost everyone. The faculty and admissions people were no different. Specifically, I felt like the people in admissions seemed genuinely interested in students. I guess I was right, because two years later, they all still know/remember names and we exchange “hellos” and small conversations in passing on a weekly basis. At the end of the day, I wanted to go to a school with happy, personable people I could connect with. USC was the school that gave me the best chance to do that.
5. THE BADASS FACTOR. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to see their campus in every television show/movie ever? Why go to Harvard, Berkeley, every fictional college etc. when they pass your school off as all of them in popular culture anyway? I’m kidding, but it is pretty cool to see spots you recognize on your tv screen. In all seriousness though, being in the heart of LA has its perks. Wonderful weather (I’m from San Diego and spoiled to begin with), free, early screenings of movies with the people that helped make them before they come out, the rich culture of LA, being 2 miles/a 20 minute walk from the Staples Center, having the California Science Center right across the street (ok, I’m a nerd, but tell me that place isn’t awesome?!) , creeping on celebrities at award ceremonies at The Shrine/Nokia Theater…the list goes on. I will remember this stuff for years to come, because it’s the kind of stuff I really couldn’t do anywhere else. Is it necessary to have these things in a college/college experience? Absolutely not. But that’s just one of the many factors which makes USC so badass,and so special.
Well, there you have it folks. That is, in a very large nutshell, how I ended up here. All of those things and the bomb scholarship that I was fortunate enough to receive sealed the deal for me. Plus, cardinal looks great on everyone, and I knew I could rock gold eye shadow hard.
I know in 20-infinity number of years, I will be able to look back and say my decision to come to USC was one of the best of my life. And you can run and tell that, homeboy. But seriously guys, happy searching. Please let me know if you have any questions about the school or life as a student here:) I would absolutely love to answer and share my own experiences here.