I first set my sights on traveling across the country from the Garden to Golden State towards the end of my high school freshman year. At that point I knew very little about colleges, and was tasked by my parents to get the search started early, (this was more than helpful, more on that later). So, I hit the internet, on a quest to find the best of the best for my interest of Computer Science. I saw schools that I had heard of before, all through the lists before me, but wanted to check something else out before finishing the scroll. The cinematic arts had been a hobby of mine for some time, and I thought why not add that spectrum to the matrix. Lo and behold, one school sat towards the top of both of those lists, and was cemented into the back of my mind.
High school always appeared to me like a 4×4 relay race, and junior year was undoubtedly that devilish third leg. People focus on the beginning and end, but the middle legs carry half the weight too. It serves as the last chance to set up the finish, and everyone hopes that they can go into that anchor leg with the lead. My third leg held standardized testing, a heavy course load, and narrowing my list of colleges. At this point, USC was a frontrunner, doing its own little race to the front of my mind as just the thought of applications approached. By now I had taken matters into my own hands, now personally believing in the initiative and time-sensitivity that my parents had pushed as I was watching my high school years fly by. Thus, I begged to take a trip to Los Angeles, to see the campus that I had only experienced through the computer and television. One 6 hour flight and I was there.
I can not honestly say that I felt that cliché, “I’m home”, moment then, and I’d boil it down to the fact that I was intimidated by the students inches and years above me. Still, I listened intently to the tour guide walking backwards around campus, despite a few “Fight On!” interruptions. I asked my questions when having the chance to listen to a current upperclassmen at Viterbi. I took my picture in front of Tommy Trojan and watched as dozens of other giddy high schoolers did the same.
Taking the red-eye home to make it back before school wasn’t exactly the most pleasant, but the residual excitement from the trip kept my spirits high. I was set on applying to USC, (I was a junior, not getting my hopes too high yet).
In the blink of an eye, I was handed the baton for the final leg of the race, senior year. My Common App was labored through, and I was ready for those school-specific applications. Following the trend of trying to get things done quickly, it was my goal to apply before the scholarship deadline. In the process, I tried to stay true to myself, to paint a picture of who I was, what I had done for the past four years. Yes, I was a little taken aback by the Buzzfeed-quiz-esque questions, but I answered those honestly too. The admissions staff, current students and alumni told me about the school they knew and loved, and it was time to see if it loved me back.
Or so it seemed.
I tried my hardest to never get attached to a school. No one wants to be rejected by their crush. That being said, I tried to do my part in seeing if USC was the right fit for me, and let them decide if I was the right fit for them. It wasn’t ever about love, it was a check to see if I was ready to run a new race, on their track, right after I finished those 4 laps. For many, their fit was on a different track, but I was honored to receive that call-up to cardinal and gold.
Now, I am not a college athlete, but I did run track leading up to this year. I was always told to run my own race, and that is how I handled the admissions process. You might need that kick from a coach yelling at you to speed up in the beginning, but at some point you have to take over. Its detrimental to look around at the runners around you because in the end it’s irrelevant, you are in control of your race and your race only. The finish line is different for us all, and I’m more than satisfied that mine led me to California.