THE INITIAL APPEAL
My parents started hassling me to make a list of things I wanted in a college at the beginning of my junior year. This was not something I had thought about and I didn’t really know what I should have an opinion about. Like most families I know, we had one of those 500 page books filled with facts about universities all of the country… which I did not care to tackle.
Eventually I figured out what I thought I wanted, and this list continued to grow as a visited more and more schools the Spring semester of my junior year. I knew I wanted warm weather- so that negated all schools above my extended Mason Dixon Line. But, I didn’t want to go to college with half my high school so I started looking out of state. Next was reputation, I wanted to go to a prestigious school, but one that wasn’t all about academics. Another thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to be an engineer and I was sort of interested in computer science. With that short list of criteria, I made a very long list of potential schools and started visiting. I thought about UCSD, UCLA, UT, A&M, UNC, GT, and on a whim, USC.
I soon realized that growing up in Texas had made me a bigger football fan than I would admit- so having a football team, as silly as that sounds, was added. I wanted school spirit, where students proudly wore their school colors and wanted to attend the sporting events.
After visiting my older brother at Georgia Tech, I eliminated all Tech schools. Though I was interested in engineering, I wanted a diverse student body. I wanted to see campus plays and performances, be in an area where I could do fun things off campus, and take classes with non-engineers.
As long as I can remember, my picture of an ideal college was an esteemed university with an enclosed campus, a diverse student body, and lots of school spirit. USC had all of these things. Great weather, great location, accessible to plenty of fun events, and I really liked that the CSCI department was in the engineering school.
VISITING THE SCHOOL
I visited lots of schools that fit my above criteria but didn’t feel at home until I came to USC. I loved the feel of campus and was quickly sold after my 50 minute tour of campus. I felt like I stepped into a dream world. Seeing California for the first time, I was starstruck and the campus was like I had always imagined college would be. Big brick buildings, tons of students, no cars driving through campus, students riding colorful fat tire beach cruisers, palm trees, people studying outside, and the most noticeable factor was the amount of people wearing USC gear casually around campus. All of the staff I interacted with were knowledgable and impressive and the students seemed to genuinely love USC, going out of their way to make sure my parents and I felt welcome.
THE FINAL DECISION
Something that was really important to me in choosing a college was that I find a place where I would work hard and be successful. Worded differently, I wanted to be in the upper middle of my class- not working my butt off to just pass, but also not coasting either. The partial scholarship I received was a good indicator of where I would stand in my incoming class and was a big reason why I finalized my decision to attend USC.
In addition, I was not positive about my major – in fact, I applied as a different major to every school. So the ease at which I could change my major at USC was appealing. From the strong Trojan family network of alumni and students on beach cruisers to the huge school spirit and interesting variety of classes offered, it was exactly what I was looking for.