In only a few months, you will be starting your first year of college. Let that sink for a second. Now, this does not have to be a scary thing. This new chapter in your life can be very exciting. Whether you traveling across town or across an ocean, college is very different than high school. You begin to have more independence, you begin to manage your own schedule, and you begin to discover how you will live the rest of your life. Maybe by discussing my experience freshman year, I can offer up some advice, and get you as excited for freshman year as I was.
I dont think that this can ever be over-emphasized – YOUR ROOMMATE MATTERS. This does not mean that your freshman year will be meaningless if you end up not liking your roommate. My point is that you should try and take advantage of USC’s housing website. When you apply for housing for your freshman year, you fill out a survey that asks you about your living habits and personality. I think that this survey is very important, because the website then tries to match your results with the results of other freshman. One thing to keep in mind when you’re filling the survey out is to answer honestly, and not wishfully. It will only be to your disadvantage if you create an image of a person who you not are. I was somewhat lucky in that my freshman roommate ended up being a great guy who I am still friends with now. You might end up being lifelong friends with your freshman roommate, so don’t blow this off!
When I mean “organization”, I don’t just mean keeping your room tidy. I mean learning how to organize your work inside and outside of class in order to be successful. When I was in high school, class was the same hours every day and work seemed to keep a very routine schedule. However, in college, class might be once a week, or twice a week, and every day will probably a somewhat different class schedule. Also, you might have class from 9:00-11:00 in the morning, and then have a dead period until 2:00 before your next class. What are you going to do with those 3 hours? Nap? Eat? Work? Hang with friends? All of these choices are legitimate, and there are times when each of these takes priority. However, I would say that if you are choosing to sleep every time, you might want to refocus your priorities. This is a learning process during your first semester, and it will take a while to organize when you will do homework, when you will nap, when you hang out with friends, etc. I did not personally get in to a groove until my second semester, and I still turned out fine! (I think…)
Meeting New People
Now, I know that you will inevitability meet new people during your time at USC. However, I challenge you, during your time in college, to meet people different than you. Going from your hometown to a world-class university puts you in a community of people from around the world. People from around the world bring different experiences, perspectives, and cultures to USC. I thought it was really neat as a freshman to meet so many people from all around the world. In my 8 person suite that I lived in during my freshman year, I lived with someone from Nebraska, Chicago, Beijing, Vancouver, Connecticut, and Los Angeles. As the year went on and I got to know them better, I got to learn a lot what life is like in the midwest or along the east coast or in China. I think its important for a college student to be aware of other cultures and societies when they graduate, so they can go on to a productive citizen of the world. I personally believe that this process starts informally during your freshman year by meeting people.
The other note that I am referring to is meeting people within your major. During your first or second semester at USC, you will take an introduction course to your major. In this class will be the other students that you will trudge through four years with. It might be a little weird introducing yourself to people you don’t know, but it will be worth it. Once you get to sophomore year, you will take Thermodynamics, which is the first real taste of what a chemical engineering class is like. It is a very difficult course with long homework sets and confusing concepts. I challenge anyone to do well in that class without any help. Finding friends within your major will be extremely helpful as you move along through your four years. You will learn to rely on others for help and working with other students on homework sets and studying for exams. I was fortunate to find a great group of people that I have worked with in my chemical engineering classes over these past four years. And the good part is that I actually like them too;)
Quick note: In my four years, there have many friendships that I have let fall by the wayside. If you have a great friendship with someone during your freshman year, don’t let that go. You’ll regret it down the road.
I know that this is a lot to take in, and you definitely do not have to worry about all of this now. Most of what I am saying will come naturally and if you decide on coming to USC, I know you will find some great friends and a great community within Viterbi and USC. I know that the college decision process can be very difficult, so I wish you all the best in finding the best school for you!