It is the peak of midterm season and my brain is fried, like deep fried and covered in powdered sugar. It is the time when my brain starts to physically hurt because of the sheer amount of material I have to cram into my head. 

Two weeks ago, I had two midterms. Okay, but not impossible to manage. This previous week I had one. Not bad at all. This week, I have two on the same day, and a lab quiz as well. I am taking that as a sign from the universe that I am just a very unlucky person, or a normal college student.

Regardless of what your midterm schedule looks like in college, the key to doing well is making sure you understand the material and are studying everyday rather than just the night before. But these also means that you need to be taking care of your mental health as well. 

At USC, there are several amazing resources to help students manage their academics as well as their mental health. 

VARC – Viterbi Academic Resource Center

VARC is located in RTH 222 with private tutoring rooms as well as a study lounge in the back. VARC is where you can help get for any of your STEM classes (not just classes in Viterbi but chem and physics too). They offer tutoring sessions with students in that major. You can make appointments for a specific class with an upperclassmen tutor through the MyViterbi portal. VARC even offers help with writing classes and papers.

 I use VARC on somewhat of a regular basis. A huge thanks to my MATH 225 tutor Lynne! I find that VARC is really helpful because sometimes I am too intimidated to ask my professors for help. Other times, my professor just isn’t the best at explaining concepts, so it’s nice to talk to a student who’s already succeeded in the class. This way, they can speak at my level of understanding. VARC even offers tutoring sessions for all of the ISE courses I am currently enrolled in. Click here to find out more.  

SI – Supplemental Instruction

Certain classes at USC are difficult, and there is no way around it. They just are. So, the Dornsife school of Letters, Arts, and Sciences has created Supplemental Instruction for these classes. For some math, physics, chemistry, econ, and biology courses, you will have an SI session. This means that an upperclassmen who has already done quite well in the class will lead an SI session two or three times a week to go over the week’s material in depth. These are great because the sessions are usually 10-15 people from your class so you’ll get the chance to ask questions and truly understand the material. Also, whenever midterms and finals come around, the SI leaders will organize a review session or two for the upcoming exam. 

SAL Computer Science Center

This is for computer science mostly, but SAL is open to all. With CS courses, they are structured so that you have a lecture section and a lab section. Most of these lab sections are held in SAL. On top of that, for your classes, your course producers will hold office hours in SAL as well. The best way to get help with homework or general confusion is to find a nice spot at SAL and get comfortable. You’re going to be there for a while. SAL is open 24/7 I believe, so it’s a nice place to do some programming on the weekends as well. However, I don’t recommend staying there for 24 hours. See the world. Spare five minutes. 🙂

Engemann Student Health Center

The best realization I had about college is that if I wanted to do well in my classes, I needed to make sure I was taking care of myself mentally. For me, that means a couple of really great friends to talk to about my struggles and ups and down. Miranda is one of those people, and I love her to pieces! Meaningful relationships like this make all the difference. I also call my parents at least once a day (usually twice), and I continually check in with professors and advisors about my academic progress.

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But, the reality is, for many students their mental health takes a serious decline in college. And that’s because we are dealing with our social life and our academic life independently. What’s really great about our Student Health Center is that there is an entire floor dedicated to psychiatry and therapy. Engemann also offers group counseling and group therapy sessions.  

Kortschak Center For Learning and Creativity

If I had to choose only one resource at USC to continue to use for my next two years – this would be the one. The Kortschak Center is one of the best things that USC has decided to implement. The Center (KCLC) located in the Student Union, is an academic coaching service. Students can either go to drop-in hours for quick help or dedicate time to an academic coaching program that can focus on time management or approaches to studying, test-taking strategies, and even goal-making strategies. 

These skills will help you become a better student overall – these are lessons you can carry with you through your entire academic career.

The Math Center

Math courses are offered through Dornsife, but they are an integral part of any engineering student’s education at USC. Math is also difficult, confusing and frustrating sometimes. (All of the time, actually, if you’re like me.) So if you aren’t able to go to VARC for tutoring or if it is just a quick homework question, go to the Math Center. The Math Center is located in KAP and is a large open space with several smaller study rooms. Graduate students and faculty have open consulting hours in the Math Center, and there are some particularly there to help you with your course. Whenever you need help – just ask! It’s as easy as that. 

Overall, USC and Viterbi offer a lot of resources to help you achieve your academic goals. There is more hours of academic help than anyone could ever need. The key to being success here academically is that you take advantage of these resources. They will be here for you, but you need to put the effort into utilizing them.

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As always, if you have any questions, leave a comment below or feel free to reach out to me via my instagram @mahimavara!

Mahima Varanasi

Mahima Varanasi

MAJOR: Industrial and Systems Engineering YEAR: Class of 2022 HOMETOWN: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @mahima On campus I am part of OWN IT, a women's leadership team who plans an annual summit based on amazing women helping each other out. Outside of Viterbi, I am involved in political campaigns.