I’m going to start by saying that everyone at USC is really smart- everyone I’ve met including myself was a top student in high school who got good grades and did well. In general a lot of people were the ones that got asked to help but never had to ask for help. Engineering school is different.
Engineering classes are challenging- more challenging than any class I took in high school. That’s why my best advice to incoming students is not to be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Viterbi has so many resources for students and all you have to do is be brave enough to ask for help.
First, your professors are great resources. They have office hours as to the TAs for the class to help you with homework, exam studying, or anything else. They have these hours set aside waiting for students to come talk to them. My freshman year I thought I could just figure everything out on my own, and worked way harder than I needed to to figure out a lot of problem sets. Now I go to office hours regularly to work out problems with TAs or the professors, and it makes everything much easier and more efficient. It’s also a great time to build a network with both graduate students and professors, and it’s a great time to get ahead and talk about job and research opportunities!
Also, Viterbi has a great academic resource center with free tutoring for most of your engineering classes. In high school I was always the tutor, but once I realized how valuable it was to have someone older who already took the class explaining things, I went to VARC a lot. It was especially helpful for my MATLAB class, which was such a completely new topic for me it was so important to have someone explaining things to me.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help from other students. Upperclassmen are amazing resources to ask for advice about classes and homework and professors, and also getting to know your classmates and making study groups! I still study with the same study group I made in my very first engineering class, and we are always there to support each other and get through our hardest homeworks and exams!
There is a million and one pieces of advice I could give to incoming freshmen- get involved, go to football games, meet new people, make sure to make time for fun things, explore Los Angeles, take advantage of the career center and resources as a freshman, and so many other things, but I think that making sure to ask for help and get the most out of your education is the most best advice I could give.