Somehow my Senior year here at USC is coming to a close, and its amazing how fast the past four years have gone by.  Four years ago, as a Senior in high school, I was struggling to imagine where I would end up in the fall and spend the next four years of my life–the classes I would take, the friends I would make and the experiences I would have on campus and beyond.  I thought the answer would be clear and simple, as my high school senior-self was convinced that there was only one school that I was supposed to fall in love with, and that the decision would be an easy one. But I found myself torn between some great universities, many of which were like USC being top-ranked research and engineering schools including Cal, UCLA, Wash U St Louis, Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins, and Cornell.

I made a full spreadsheet on the plane after visiting one of my many schools that looked at a ton of factors including finances, engineering ranking, overall university ranking, competitiveness vs cut-throat atmosphere, sports teams, location, size, weather, research opportunities and even the school colors and mascot.  There were point totals and certain categories that I weighted differently (is it clear I liked math and thought that this was the best method? haha).  But I soon realized that my spreadsheet alone couldn’t give me the answers I was looking for.  So what other factors did I start to consider next?

I had been on campus and talked to students from each of the seven universities, and as I had seen at Explore USC, I knew each of those universities would provide me with a solid engineering education.  But what about beyond the material? What would my classes be like? Would I get the classes I not only needed but wanted? And beyond classes, I wanted to know about things I could get involved beyond just engineering.   Equally important to Viterbi’s commitment to its students in research and academics, I talked to engineering students and learned first hand how well-rounded and balanced its students were in their classes, social life, student organizations and other activities.

So what was I looking for exactly?  While a mix of what I knew I wanted at the time and what I have accomplished now, these are some of the many reasons Why I Chose USC:

  • Study Abroad: Yes, engineers can study abroad and are encouraged to do so, while other universities didnt seem to offer the same enthusiasm about this.  As evidence I studied abroad in Paris for 7 weeks through the Viterbi Summer Overseas Program between my sophomore and junior year and had the time of my life.  I also had the opportunity to travel with Engineers Without Borders during Spring Break two years ago to Honduras.
  • Weather and Location: There is SO much to do within Los Angeles whether thats checking out cool restaurants, going to the beach, heading to a concert and even exploring the great outdoors.  And I’ll be honest, sunny weather and wearing shorts in February just makes my day that much better when I hear its freezing and snowy for my sister (a freshman at Notre Dame) and its 80 here. 🙂
  • Research: something I knew I wanted to do and it actually seemed possible at USC! Starting my first semester here, I got involved with research and working in the Biomechanics lab on campus–definitely an opportunity that I don’t believe could have happened so soon had I decided to go to another university!
  • More than Engineering: Another thing that drew me to USC beyond the excellent academics within engineering, were the academics outside of engineering.  I knew if engineering ended up not being what I wanted to do, that USC had a bunch of other strong academic departments.  As an engineering student I’ve had the chance to take classes outside of my major that interested me through my GE requirements, and other classes in business, accounting, kinesiology, film, and sailing that interested me. Plus I’ve been able to make a lot of friends in addition to my fellow engineers all across the university!

I’ve loved USC and the students here because everyone I talked to was involved in one way or another and the energy on campus was on a constant high. This is where the importance of that gut feeling kicks in—visiting campus was a huge influence on my decision, because I realized how many fun things there are to do in LA and how many ways there were to get involved on campus.  USC became the school where I knew I could get a great education while having a wonderful undergraduate experience—a combination unparalleled and something I’ve come to love and value.  I’ve met amazing friends, peers and students through my classes, student organizations, research, sorority, Greek Life, dorm, and many more through different ways I never could have imagined.

If you have any other questions about why USC or why Engineering at USC feel free to message me or check out my twitter (@clairevc511) or other blog posts!



Claire, Class of 2012

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