I cannot believe my second year as a USC student has finally begun! Although I’ve nearly completed 41 units, 12 classes, and over ¼ of my undergraduate career, it feels like it’s gone by in the blink of an eye.

The purpose of this blog post is not to tell you step-by-step about my experience as a student last year. I want to give my 5 biggest pieces of advice to incoming freshmen based off my experiences throughout the year and based off of what nobody told me.

Camping with some friends from freshman year!

  • Be open to making new friends! As amazing as it is to start anew in college, it can be a very daunting experience to try to make new friends. Don’t try to force friendships, and don’t be afraid to branch out. Most of the friends I have made this year do not live in the same building as me and aren’t in the same major. In fact, many of my closest friends aren’t even freshmen. For the most part, my friends came from similar classes and from student organizations (which I will talk about below).
  • Get involved! As cliched and obvious as that sounds, getting involved in organizations is very important in college. Not only does it help add some structure to your schedule, but it also helps you find that perfect community and make the closest friends. USC has an undergraduate population of 19,000 people, which is pretty substantial. But by joining the Admission Center and Climbing Team, I have found the people I can truly relate to and have found the communities that make our student body feel much smaller and warmer.
  • Try new things! College is not just about education, but also about personal exploration. For me, it was joining the Climbing Team. Before joining, I had only rock climbed once… as a third grader at a friend’s birthday party. My friend Emily convinced me to try it out, and by joining the climbing team, I not only found a fun exercise routine, but I also found a very supportive community.
  • Remember why you’re here! One of the biggest worries incoming students (including myself) have when entering college revolves around the supposed never-ending stream of homework. I know at my high school, many teachers would assign a ton of homework in order to “prepare” students for what happens at the university level. In truth, I quickly found out that the homework and classwork load isn’t as big as one would expect so long as you find balance and prioritize what matters most. Unfortunately, I can’t provide that perfect “one size fits all” solution (or believe me, I would market and sell that to make a fortune). It’s about an initial period of trial and error to find that work-life balance, admittedly putting academics at the forefront. The one tip I can give: trying to cut that nasty procrastination habit will definitely give you a head start.
  • Remember why you’re here! There is a second meaning to that phrase. When you attend a university (USC or otherwise), it means they chose you to be there because they knew you have what it takes. That is a really important thing to remember when life becomes hectic and the inevitable chaos of midterms and finals season hits. When the stress of studying for exams, writing papers, and preparing presentations overwhelms me, I always take a five minute break and some deep breaths so I truly remember: I picked USC for a reason. USC picked me for a reason. I deserve to be here.
Nick Bortolon

Nick Bortolon

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2022 HOMETOWN: Alamo, California PRONOUNS: he/him/his INSTA: @nick_bortolon On campus I am a Student Ambassador (better known as a Tour Guide) and I am part of the USC Club Rock Climbing Team. In my free time, I like to ride roller coasters, compose music for piano, and explore Los Angeles.