When people come into college, they have different attitudes towards their experiences.  Some people come in sure of what they want to study and get involved in, while others have no idea of what they want to do.  When I started school as a Freshman, I had a clear plan.  I knew I wanted to be a Mechanical Engineer, I knew I wanted to be Pre-Dental, and I knew I wanted to get involved in x y and z organizations.  I thought I had to stick to the plan, and for my first semester, I didn’t stray from it. As I spent more time at USC, and I met people who inspired me, went to hear speakers who introduced me to new ideas, and as I learned new material in my classes, I started to realize that my initial plan might not be the best plan.

If I could go back, I wouldn’t have such a concrete plan, because the only part of my plan that hasn’t changed is my initial choice of major.  I would go into school with the mindset that it is important to have some idea of what I wanted to do, but not imperative that I stick to that idea.  When I decided I did not want to be Pre-Dental after my first semester, it was a really hard decision for me to make, not because I was giving up on something that I wanted, but because I was straying from my plan.  I wish I had come in with the mindset that it is okay to change my plan, because that would have saved my struggle.

The best thing that you can possibly do as a Freshmen is keep your mind open to any and all opportunities available to you.  Once I realized I did not have to stick to my plan, I started to explore.  I began to find inspiration in places I never expected, to learn from other students and their respective interests, and to pursue a completely different path than I predicted.  I have become involved in a research laboratory, the SC racing team, and in student film productions and a professional cinema fraternity, which were never a part of my plan.  These have been some of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had, and they have not only changed my career goals from being an Orthodontist to being an Imagineer, but they have allowed me to grow academically, professionally, and personally.


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An open mind is the key to growth in college.  I have kept an open mind in my classes, which has allowed me to learn new things.  I have been open to working in groups and to receiving help when necessary, which has helped me to succeed in classes.  Beyond that, I have been open to meeting people completely different from me, and they have opened my eyes to new passions and interests that I may never have discovered otherwise.  All of these things have turned me into a better version of myself, and my growth is not yet over.

Samantha Kaplan-2015

Samantha Kaplan-2015

Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2015, Learn more on her profile here!