Here we are finishing up Week 10 of the semester and I can’t believe how fast the weeks are flying by! As cheesy as it sounds, I’m starting to see that everyone was right when they told me that senior year would be gone in a flash. The weeks are filled and busy, just the way I like them – full of classes that are challenging me, projects that continue to grow better and excite me, club events that get me out into the USC community, and outings and hangouts with friends to recharge me. 

With the early action deadline upon us in only a few days, I know this is a time of high stress for applicants and I’m sending you all my best wishes and support! Something I knew I was curious about at this point in my college search (and honestly was still curious about up until the day I started classes) was what exactly an average day looked like in college. Was it classes all day? Studying in libraries for hours? Going out each night? I also wondered what courses and requirements as a college student actually looked like. There’s no real guide or anything to explain how university life is to a high schooler and it can be very different depending on school, major, and the individual in question. So if it is any help at all, I thought I’d just give some updates of how my weeks have looked this semester and what my “day in the life” is most days. 

Average Day-In-The-Life

Morning 

  • Wake up and work out, either at the campus gym or climbing gym (though on Fridays I have my surf class in the morning so that’s my exercise for the day)
  • Go to my morning classes —> this semester I have my general education linguistics and self-defense classes
  • Work on my Unreal Engine code outside in the Engineering plaza in between lectures
  • On Tuesdays, I have my Freshmen Academy class that I’m a coach for – basically helping run the class with the professor, giving guidance/advice to the freshmen students and running activities for them to introduce them to USC and engineering

Afternoon

  • Eat lunch at home or my sorority, pack a PB&J for the road, or grab a meal from one of the on-campus restaurants (I really like Seeds, a spot for sandwiches, salads, hot meals like chicken tenders, and great grab&go snacks/plates) 
  • Go to my Unreal Engine lecture/lab or 
  • If I don’t have class, I find a spot on campus to work for a few hours – maybe Doheney library, out on a bench, at the coffee shop near the Caruso Catholic Center, or my sorority house
  • On Thursdays, I have my Advanced Game Project course which is my senior capstone class. This is when I meet with my team for our game, Machine Heart, that we are creating throughout the year and publishing in May (you can find more info on our specific game on our Instagram). As a producer, I am in charge of the engineering and narrative groups within our project, managing all the deadlines, blockers, collaboration between teams, and general maintenance of our game progress. I have loved being able to get a glimpse into what this actually looks like in a real game industry-type scenario and have such a fun time with my team making this incredible game

Evening

  • Catch dinner with some friends at my sorority or eat a bite at home
  • Watch a movie in my cinema class on Thursdays
  • Go to a club meeting or campus event (guest lecture, Trojan Talk, performance, etc.) depending on the day
  • Run to my friends’ house nearby to do some work together and catch up on the day
  • Snuggle up in my cozy room to have a real code grind session or write an essay – gotta have the string lights and candles to make it more exciting to study 🙂
  • Read a bit of my book for fun, watch some Youtube, jump on my Xbox to play online with my brother, before heading to bed

My weekends are always a bit up in the air! Definitely some time set aside for homework, usually with friends, and fitting in fun times in between those. In the
past couple weeks I’ve gone on a nice hike in the Brentwood area, visited some hometown friends at LMU, tried new restaurants in downtown LA, gone surfing in Santa Monica, attended football games and tailgates, help run campus admissions events, travel to Boston for fall break, go to Disneyland, and random fun times in between. Each weekend I also have lab time for my game project in which we do sprint reviews on our tasks from the past week and upcoming deadlines as well as discussion on the direction of the game. 

Average Look at my Weeks

Each week seems to have the same basic structure to it for me, but depending on club requirements or campus activities and holidays the specifics can vary. Generally, I have sorority chapter meetings on Monday, Society 53 alumni society meetings on Wednesdays, VSA meetings Thursday mornings,and homework that I fit in any

Regarding CS Games in particular, sometimes there are recruiting events on campus for games companies or just general community building activities for games students. EA’s Ripple Effect visited this past week, speaking with games students about what the various positions in the games industry look like and the opportunities at their studio. Activision/Blizzard visited a few weeks ago to do something similar, as do many other AAA and independent games studios since USC’s game design program is well-known to these companies, especially as it’s a unique major in general. Rockstar also helps out our Advanced Game Project teams by meeting with each team to discuss their progress and ideas, give \
suggestions on areas that could be improved, and in general give consulting advice to help with the production of our games that will be published at the end of the school year.  

On a social level, the games student community schedules show or movie viewings together so we can all hang or even have parties/socials hosted at a student’s home to get to know one another outside of classes. Especially when a popular show is being released each week on a streaming service, there’s usually a viewing party happening somewhere on campus for games kids and with halloween this weekend, halloween parties are abound! I’ve gone to board game nights and just simple snack/boba hangouts too which are great. Overall, given the relative smallness of our major, a rather tight knit community is built which makes working with one another creatively even better! 

Gianna Beck

Gianna Beck

MAJOR: Computer Science (Games) YEAR: Class of 2023 HOMETOWN: Phoenix, Arizona PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @gianna__25 I'm involved with computer science research investigating affective gesturing in robots in the Interaction Lab along with being a Freshman Engineering Academy Coach. Outside of Viterbi, I'm a part of Greek Life, SC Climbing, the Student Alumni Society leadership board, and I am a volunteer at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

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