As I reach my last couple weeks at USC, it is a very bittersweet feeling. While I am excited to begin this new chapter of my life, I have loved my experience and will miss both the experience of being a student as well as all the friends I’ve made along the way. As my final blog post, I wanted to discuss some tips and advice as someone who has made it through 4 years of engineering school, and thrived!
Apply for Scholarships! Many times your USC email will be flooded with different opportunities and activities. Scholarships are one of these. One of my biggest regrets is letting these scholarship opportunities pass me by and not applying. Most only require some form of short essay and/or resume and by applying you can raise money for many of your needs in college, such as tuition, housing, or materials.
Understand its okay to struggle. Many students, myself included, came to USC with straight-A highschool transcripts. You will quickly realize that the engineering program here is rigorous, and an “A” becomes not a standard, but an achievement requiring very hard work. I personally struggled with the course load in the beginning, both because of the rigor and also because I didn’t fully understand how to manage my time. It’s important to understand you are not alone in feeling this! Many students struggle, and over time you will learn to manage your time and improve your grades, just as I did.
Extracurriculars! Another shift from highschool to college is the importance of GPA. I don’t want you leaving this blog claiming GPA is not important at all and you can fail your classes, I’m not saying that. However, GPA does have diminished importance in relation to extracurriculars in terms of your career. Companies have hired me for internships because I participated in engineering design clubs and therefore have practical experience, and didn’t even glance at my GPA! I highly encourage joining the many extracurriculars USC has to offer. And not just engineering-related ones as well, but also anything that piques your interest.
Embrace the community. Starting college can be very intimidating and lonely, as it was for me. However, as I mentioned before, it is important to know that you are not alone. Many freshmen also came to USC with little to no friends and are open to making new ones. As easy as it is to hermit yourself, I highly encourage you to put yourself out there. Ask that person sitting next to you in class if they wanna grab lunch, or knock on your neighbor’s door and ask if they want to watch TV. More often than not, they will welcome the interaction.
Maximize the Fun. I know the parents won’t love this tip (my dad sure didn’t), but remember there are two facets to college. Yes you are ultimately here for the education, but college is a great stepping stone in your own growth to becoming an adult. You have the freedom here to determine your identity and relish in your independence. And I highly suggest taking advantage of that. Yes your course load will be busy and you will skip out on social events for your academics, but don’t place social interaction and relaxation time so low on your priority list. Use these 4 years to explore downtown Los Angeles, or go to Santa Monica, or just for activities that broaden other aspects of your life besides your education.
These are all conclusions I came to throughout my 4 years, and I wish I had them in the beginning. So as I impart them onto you, I hope that they help with navigating the chaotic times of being a college freshman. Fight on!