When I was deciding where to go to college (which is so much harder than the application process), I made a list “Must Haves” of what I knew I had to have in each school. For me, I knew I wanted a medium sized school with a good engineering program, strong athletics, and a study abroad program doable for engineers. Since I was deciding between most of popular schools in California (UCs), all the schools had the components in my list of “must haves.” Therefore, I had to look deeper, and try to figure out where I could see myself striving. The deciding factors that made me choose USC were the following:
1. Engineering Student Involvement
In high school, I spent a majority of my time doing extracurriculars, and I knew I wanted to continue that in college. I had heard the rumors and stereotypes of “engineering majors not being able to have time to do anything out side of school” or “engineering majors can’t have lives” but after coming to visit campus and talking to current engineering students I realized how much of a misconception that was at USC. Even since being here, I don’t know any engineering student that just does school work. Everyone is doing something, whether is a student organization, sports, social organizations, or part time internships. From talking to students as a prospective, I quickly realized that I can have a life as engineering student at USC and get involved in all that USC has to offer.
When older siblings would come home from college on spring breaks, all they would talk about is midterms and finals, and the curve and the competition, and I was so afraid to get caught up in the competition of a class. I didn’t want to be put against my peers. I knew I worked better working with other people and I didn’t want that to come to an end. USC Viterbi has a completely collaborative environment. Students aren’t pitted against each other to get the only 5 As in a class. Classes aren’t graded on a curve (at least none that I’ve taken or heard of). For the most part, the average grade on a test is brought up to a B- (80%) which tends to always help students. There are never a cap on As and all students have the possibility of getting one if they put in the appropriate effort.
3. Small Class Sizes
I wanted to be able to get to know my professors. I didn’t want to just be a face in a 200 class room auditorium, and I knew choose a medium sized private school such as USC would be able to offer that type of atmosphere for me. I have yet to be in an engineering class with more than 50 people, and especially in my major of 17 people, I rarely will ever have a class over 25 people!
4. Overall Campus Atmosphere
The first thing that ever stuck me when I visited the campus was the look of a campus and how the students on it look. USC was such a beautiful campus that I could very much see myself walking around, and everyone on campus was smiling and stopping to chat with friends. From seeing the atmosphere and feeling the vibes of campus, I knew I’d be able to fit in at USC.
The greatest take away from this, is make a “must have” list of things you know you must have. (Make it pretty general knowing where you actually got accepted) and then go from there. Visit campuses and talk to students in your intended major or department (not just the tour guide). Try to figure out where you would see yourself fitting in and then make your decision based on that. You’re about to decide on the next four years (give or take if you decide to do more or less) and make sure you know you will be happy and strive where ever you choose to go. If you can’t make it to USC, check out all the content on Viterbi Voices and see what current students are doing and if you could see yourself here!