USC is a whole new, fast-paced, and exciting world that demands acclimation. There are more opportunities than ever, more events/resources, and more people to interact with; however, you must balance it all with a substantial course load and the same amount of time as before. The transition is manageable. There are several things I did to prepare myself for a much greater independence that demanded a greater sense of organization and responsibility. By doing proper research before the beginning of classes, you can be one step ahead of everyone else and ensure a successful academic year! The first few weeks can have a tremendously positive impact on your entire college career – take the initiative! Here are a few things I recommend you do:


1. Attend the Viterbi Luau

The New Student Luau is a perfect opportunity to meet your fellow students, as well as our faculty and staff; learn about student organizations; and enjoy some island-style food. You might even win one of several great prizes! Led by Viterbi Student Ambassadors and Freshmen Academy Coaches, this event takes place in the E-Quad during welcome week, before classes begin. It is the perfect place to meet some of your very first friends at USC and within Viterbi. You will also have a chance to interact with upperclassmen who helped coordinate the event. You don’t want to miss out on the free food and festivities!


2. Attend the Viterbi Student Organization Involvement Fair

This event takes place in the Viterbi E-Quad during the first or second week of school. It is the perfect opportunity to meet with the incredibly kind and talented student leaders of Viterbi’s student organizations. Many of these orgs will showcase their achievements from the past year. They will also be looking to recruit freshmen to join their teams and help propel their club to the next level. Each org will have their own unique application system, but the biggest key is to introduce yourself at the fair and showcase your interest in their goals. The best way to do this is by visiting their websites before the fair to get familiar with their initiatives and objectives. Take notes and jot down some questions you want to ask them at their booth during the involvement fair. Show curiosity and passion and you will thrive! Some clubs are research oriented, others are entrepreneurship driven. There are also community service organizations, while some are a mixture of several of these elements. Apply to a few orgs and don’t get discouraged if you are not accepted into all your top choices. Use this as motivation to better yourself and try again next semester. This will leave a lasting impression that will not go unnoticed.


3. Don’t Buy Textbooks Ahead of Time

In your desire to get ahead, one thing you might be tempted to do is to buy your textbooks way in advance. Save yourself the effort and a lot of money – do not do this. Wait until the first week of classes to see which textbooks your professors want you to buy and which are simply recommended. Some professors may not even want you to buy the most recent edition, which could save you up to $100. You should also ask students who have already taken the class to get a better understanding of the professor’s expectations and book requirements. Once you have that cleared up, go to and enter the title or ISBN of the required textbooks. This website will allow you to compare prices between many online options such as Chegg, Amazon, ABE books, etc. Simply put, slugbooks is a tool that will save you a lot of money by listing the prices of many distributors, allowing you to pick the cheapest one. I still use it to this day!


4. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

I owe any success I have achieved to my willingness to step outside of my comfort zone and to the positive-minded people I have surrounded myself with. If I ever had questions, concerns, or doubts, I never hesitated to reach out to upperclassmen who almost always had an answer and could advise me based on their past experiences. Coupled with the myriad of opportunities at USC and Viterbi, I have been able to find my place on campus. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Not only will you be helping yourself, but you will also have the chance to positively impact our campus, the surrounding community, and your fellow peers. All it takes is some courage and the hunger to make a difference. You will meet people who will push you to new heights and inspire you to achieve big things. If you have some free time and are on the fence about attending an event, meeting new people, or embarking upon an adventure, just go for it. Why sit around when new people and life experiences await you?