A couple of the blogs I’ve written in the past have tackled the question of “why USC?”. As a senior now who is getting awfully sentimental about their college experience, I’d like to tackle this question from a different perspective. I’m going to address some of the worries I specifically had about college during my admissions process and see how they’ve stacked up to my lived experience to hopefully provide some more perspective for those currently undergoing the college admissions process.
1. You don’t need an engineering background to succeed
I’ve mentioned several times before in some blogs of mine, but I didn’t know anything about engineering or computer science before coming to USC. My school offered no AP computer science or engineering focused classes so I truly believed that I was going to be at a disadvantage and wouldn’t be able to keep up with the curriculum or my peers.
In reality, while it was pretty difficult to get over initial learning curves, I found many resources at USC that enabled me for success despite my lack of background. Many computer science courses had course producers, undergraduates which have taken the class before and done well, and they host office hours, a time I took full advantage of. I also attended my professor’s office hours and my professors were so understanding and never shamed me for questions that I thought were “trivial” or “too basic”. Perhaps most importantly was the friends I made within my major who were always happy to grab coffee and study with me, no matter what time of day.
Yes, while it was very hard to get a handle of my classes and their concepts at first, I found so many great resources that really enabled me to learn the most my freshman year and now, as a second semester senior with a full time job lined up, I’d like to think it really set me up for success.
2. You can find community
I had many reservations about the diversity I would find in higher education. Up until college I had spent my entire life in a community that was 99.9% latinx and I was concerned that I would lose that part of my identity when I come to a PWI (Predominantly White Institution) like USC.
However, I underestimated just how vibrant student life is at USC. There were hundreds of clubs to join right from the get go and so many of them had a focus on culture and community building. It was in the Society of Hispanic Engineers (SHPE) chapter that I built my strongest community. I found so many people that came from my same background as me and we all supported each other throughout all of our classes and general college struggles. I truly believe that I found a forever family within the club and nationally as SHPE is a national organization.
This isn’t to say that higher education (USC included) doesn’t have a lot of work left to do when it comes to diversity. But at USC I have found such rich, diverse pockets of people that have allowed me to stay connected with my culture and community.
3. School doesn’t have to dominate your life
I think there’s a big assumption that when you’re in an engineering degree program that you’ll have no free time and that everyone you would meet would be consumed in their schoolwork 24/7. While I had heard that many Viterbi students were encouraged to pursue interests outside of engineering, I was still nervous that school would dominate my life.
I have been pleasantly surprised but how true this sentiment of Engineering+ truly was. I learned to manage my time even while taking some tough classes and I was really encouraged that I get involved in things outside of the classroom, something I gladly fell into with clubs like SHPE and other technical jobs like my CP position in the EE department. My peers also reflected this sentiment; so many of them understood the value of experiences outside of the classroom and were always so happy to try new things!