As you may know, I am a Freshman Academy Coach, so each year I work with a class of freshmen as a mentor to help them get settled and make the most of their freshman year at USC. As such, I have given more advice than I could ever write down in a blog post, but one piece of advice consistently stands out as the most important: get involved!
I’ve seen a few students get to college and decide not to join any student organizations, teams, or research groups because they think it will help them do better in school if they have more time to study. This is a trap! Yes, engineering is a difficult major, and yes you will have to manage your time, but the secret to time management is not cutting everything out.
Students who get involved consistently do better freshman year for multiple reasons. First, student orgs and teams are a perfect place to form long-lasting friendships, and give you a home within a home. Being a part of a community that has something in common is incredibly valuable. Also, the busier you are, the more you will get done. Yes, it will take a bit of adjustment, but if you have meetings or practice, it’s a lot easier to motivate yourself to get work done ahead of time rather than just always thinking you’ll have time to do things later. You actually will have a lot of free time in college, and giving that free time some structure can make you happier and more productive. Finally, being a part of a team or group gets you more engaged in the awesome USC and Viterbi communities.
Obviously you need to find a balance. Don’t join every club and over-commit yourself so that you enjoy none of them, but do check out anything you are interested in. I joined a few clubs freshman year, quit some sophomore year but added in a new one, and kept that process going until my senior year was spent only in organizations I was passionate about and had great friends in. College is a perfect time to find new interests and passions, and you’ll never know what yours are if you don’t try things out. The involvement fairs in fall and spring may very well be the most defining day of your college careers.
With over 750 student organizations, intramural and club sports, greek houses, and more, there is definitely something at USC for you, and you’ll do better and be happier if you find it!