I’ve talked a lot about all the cool things I’ve gotten to do in my time at USC and how much I love it here. Truthfully, deciding to come to USC was definitely not a very easy decision for me to make — I was on the fence for a while before submitting my intent to enroll. I know how big of a decision it is to decide at the age of 17(ish) where you’re going to spend 4 years of your life, and where you’re going to get your degree from. Now, almost 3 years later, I can definitely say that it was the right decision. If you’re wondering why I chose USC, these are my top 3 reasons:
- One of the things I love to do is travel, so I knew that I wanted to be able to study abroad as an engineer. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be 20
years old and not have lived anywhere but California. So, if I decided to stay in California, I knew that I wanted to be able to get international experience. I went to a session in San Mateo for admitted students and learned about the Viterbi Abroad program over the summer and heard that one of the places we got to go to was Madrid, and I was so excited. Spain, Italy, and England are some of the places I really wanted to travel to in Europe and knowing that I might have a chance to go there was incredible. I did the program after my freshman year and I have to say it was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. Check out more about it here, and here.
- I have the ability to customize my degree and my experience. I always knew that I wanted to study engineering, but also knew that my interests don’t just lie in the sphere of engineering and tech. I love literature, I love law, and as much as I love the discrete-ness of computer science and computer engineering, I like having abstract conversations with people with different views and being able to learn from them. I knew that wherever I decided to go to school, I would want all those things to be accessible to me. I’ve been able to add a minor in entrepreneurship, do thematic option (which I talk more about in this post…and this one) and have a pre-law emphasis. Yes, my schedule is pretty cramped, but I can still do all the things I want to do. Every CS kid has a different experience at USC, and every CECS kid will have a different experience within that, it just depends on what your passions are and how you choose to follow them at USC.
- One of the things that I noticed at USC that was so different than all the other schools I looked at was the culture of collaboration at Viterbi. I can’t lie – engineering is competitive. Unless you’re 100% on top of your game always, you’re probably going to spend a few nights every semester staying up late to finish your work. But that’s the case everywhere. The thing about USC is that even when you’re up at 2 am, eating hot Cheetos and ice cream from the tub, trying to figure out why in the world your code isn’t producing the right output, you’ll have friends there in your position. They’re going to be willing to help you, or just jam out work by your side.
- You have the opportunity to get involved in research from day 1. Getting involved in research, whether you know anything about research in your field of study or not, is so great for that reason: you learn what areas outside of the theoretical practice your classes apply to. It’s a great way to explore different approaches, applications, and methods of engineering you might be interested in, or you might have always wanted to learn about, but haven’t found the right class. It’s a very different experience than being in a class, since it’s all hands-on learning, rather than 50-50 split between that and the theoretical.
And now that I’m here at USC, these are the things that would have made my decision.
- In my 6 semesters here, I’ve gotten to know some of my professors really well. I know I’ve mentioned this before in my blogs and on live chats, but if you put in the effort to go to professor’s office hours, they’ll get to know you. I have professors who I’ll get lunch with, who remember me from freshman year. Making those connections early really helps make those first few semesters a lot less rough. In general, professors are really there to help you. They know how to succeed in their classes, and they can offer you the help and information if you attend their office hours.
- You get to meet all kinds of people — even if you wouldn’t be leaving the state, or even if you wouldn’t be moving more than 40 miles away from
home to go to USC, you’re still going to meet people from all around the united states and every pocket of the world. USC has a really high out of state and international population, so that’s cool. You won’t just hang out with friends from high school no matter where you’re from. You also get to meet people who aren’t in your major. Don’t think that going to school as an engineer means you’re going to be siloed into a single “engineering” box, where all the people you interact with are engineers. My best friends are different types of engineers, bio majors, and international relations majors. I live with a communication student and a film student
- Although it seems like a minor perk, the weather is always amazing, and truthfully, the weather really actually does make a pretty big impact on your day-to-day life. I’m from a part of California where it really never gets below 65 degrees, and where I’ve got a range of comfortable temperature from 65-75 degrees, so being able to live somewhere where the sun is almost always out is so nice.
- The social aspect -It’s very easy to find the kind of people that you vibe with and mesh well with, whatever that kind of person is. A lot of people seem to think that being social in college means that you have to be involved in Greek lives, but the truth is that people do have social lives without being in fraternities and/or sororities. I personally am not in Greek life, but I have friends in and out of engineering who are, and they’re all very down-to-earth, friendly people.As I mentioned, you can find a solid group of friends in so many ways, whether that’s through the student orgs you get involved in, your freshman dorms, and your classes and design teams.
I hope this helps you guys! I would definitely do your research and check out schools (and their websites, especially if it’s not possible to tour) so you have a better understanding of whether you’ll be able to do all the things that you want to be able to do in college. Check out the other blog posts that my friends have posted here about why they chose to come to USC. Good luck with your decisions — it’s a big decision, but just make sure you choose what’s the best fit for you! I hope to see you here in the fall!