It’s almost decision time for all you high school seniors out there! It seems like both yesterday and a million years ago that I was in your shoes. I know it’s tough and I appreciated any advice I could get my hands on, so this week I’ll be joining the other VSAs in explaining why I chose to attend USC.
To give you some background: I applied to 11 schools all over the country, and researched and visited a LOT more. I was looking to go relatively far from home, just for the adventure of it!
I got accepted to 8 (waitlisted at 3 ivies) and even got large scholarships at three of them (including USC), so this was definitely not a trivial decision for me. That being said, 3 years later there is no doubt in my mind that USC is the perfect school for me.
As a Wisconsinite, the promise of beautiful California weather was definitely a pro – but it’s obviously not what set USC apart from other California schools. I definitely checked out rankings, and Viterbi was already high and climbing higher, but so were my other schools. Personally, I think comparing school #1 to school #30 is a pointless distinction – they’re all amazing. Of course I wanted a strong engineering program, with a wide variety of options. I LOVED how much flexibility Viterbi allowed, even encouraged, for engineers as far as pursuing minors, etc. I had become discouraged on a lot of my tours where I was told that engineers never had time to minor or study abroad (both of which I have pursued at USC!).
I also met a lot of engineers and was extremely impressed by how friendly, personable, and INVOLVED they were.
Honestly, what really sold me on USC was the campus culture and energy. It’s hard to describe the feeling of the Trojan Family, but it’s amazing. Like I said, I visited a LOT of campuses, and USC’s is the only one where I felt this unique type of school spirit. Everyone here is excited and happy to be here. It manifests in so many ways. Obviously there’s gameday during fall, when alumni swarm campus and celebrate with the freshmen, and there’s the rivalry with that school across town to keep things lively.
However, my favorite part of our school spirit is how even though we’re already a top school, everybody is still mentally set on improving in every way. Seriously – under the leadership of President Sample at the time, USC students, faculty, and staff were always reaching higher (and this has definitely continued, if not accelerated, under president Nikias). It’s a lot of fun to be a part of an organization in this perpetual state of betterment – it gives us, as students, a unique chance to actually contribute!
Choosing a college is not just choosing a school. It’s choosing a home. After one night on USC’s campus, I knew I was home. I knew I could picture myself living here and being happy and fitting with the Viterbi culture.
Maybe you don’t have that feeling about any school yet, maybe you have it about another school, and maybe you feel that way about SC too! The best advice I can ever give you on picking your school is to not make a decision until you DO feel that way about a certain school, SC or otherwise, and then you need to go there. At the end of the day – numbers mean very little. Rankings are a little arbitrary or irrelevant, many schools cost about the same amount now, and counting the number of students per class is a meaningless metric. It’s about the intangibles – the professor you liked talking to, the student who was so enthusiastic about his major, the place on campus where you just KNEW you wanted to study right away!
Best of luck to all of you in your decision-making process! I’ll be back after spring break in Disney World and Universal Studios with my family (and I’ll also be playing Mass Effect 3, finally!)