After almost three years at USC, I have found it useful to reflect back on my time. Despite knowing nothing my freshman year, I found my way surprisingly well. To help you all, I have decided to compile a list of things I wish I had known coming into college.
1. Just Say Yes
The best way to make friends in college by far is getting involved in various clubs and organizations. However, the involvement fair is pretty overwhelming if you’re new. With hundreds of clubs lined up on Trousdale or on zoom, it’s hard to figure out which ones would suit you well. I think the best way to find your place in the extracurricular scene, however, is to just try everything out. Go to the involvement fair, meet people and join groups, and just see where it takes you. Don’t be scared to sign up for more clubs than you plan on actually committing yourself to. By trying each one out, you are sure to definitively find the ones that work well for you.
Me with some of my friends from the USC Climbing Team on our spring break trip.
2. Allow Time to be a College Student
While college is about learning in the classroom, you can learn a lot through your interactions with others. For me, it was hard to find this balance. My first year, almost all my time was spent doing something academic related in terms of clubs and studying. However, I think it’s really important to not lose sight of the unique aspects of the college experience – your fellow students. Seek out and allow yourself to go on a boba run or sing karaoke. The friendships you form in college are invaluable and shouldn’t be put on the backburner.
Impromptu ice cream runs before finals – a must do.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things
Many engineering students, including myself, come into college with their eyes set on learning only engineering. My first semester, I felt I had to take only engineering related courses to further my education; however, an engineering education is not just math and science. Taking classes outside of engineering helps broaden your horizons and understand the world you are engineering for. Some of my most valuable classes at USC have been philosophy and sociology. While they don’t seem to pertain to engineering, I now have a clearer idea of the challenges we face and the ethics surrounding engineering in the real world.
While there are certainly many ways to approach college, I hope some of these tips help you in the future. Wherever you find yourself, good luck and have fun!