I first visited USC my junior year of high school for a home football game and was overwhelmed by USC’s school pride and spirit. Having grown up in the Bay Area and being the daughter of two Cal alums, I was ironically there supporting the opposing team, and was disappointed (my father heartbroken) after the game where USC destroyed Cal.  Nevertheless I was enthralled by the contagious energy among USC students and compared this energy at every other college campus I visited.

During my senior year at Explore USC, I saw Viterbi’s commitment to its students in research and academics.  But equally important, 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.

Once I heard back from all the colleges I had applied to, it was time to make a decision.  My 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.

So what other factors did I start to consider next? 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, competiveness 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, but overall it came down to that overall feeling about the school.

Location—being from the Bay Area, I was a California native but I had applied to and was considering schools literally all across the country: west coast, Midwest, and up and down the east coast.  Looking back, I probably should have given more consideration to weather since I’ve realized that the weather really does influence my outlook on the day.  Also, had I gone back east I’d probably have lost a toe or two to frostbite (and me stubbornly trying to wear flip flops in the snow), and I will always argue that a beach day is better than a snow day. I couldn’t be happier living in sunny Los Angeles!

Size—I really liked that USC had a large diverse student body, but that there were many ways which made the school feel smaller and tight-knit through class sizes, student organizations, residential halls and joining a sorority and Greek Life.  The Viterbi Engineering School also gives students that extra sense of belonging and from the classes my first semester, I met a ton of other freshmen engineers in my Intro to Biomedical Engineering class and my Freshman Academy class.

Great academics outside of 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, and kinesiology that interested me.

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!

Student Body—I 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 mt 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