I can’t believe it’s been two years since I committed to USC. The month between learning about my acceptances and finally choosing a college was unexpectedly the most stressful part of my college application process. I had multiple college options I was super excited about, including USC, so one of the ways I tried to narrow down my options was creating pros and cons lists. As I’m finishing up classes my sophomore year, I thought it would be interesting to revisit my pros and cons list for USC and see how true it has been to my experience.
Pro: The Trojan Family
The storied Trojan Family! The Trojan Family was one of the aspects of USC that I heard the most about when applying, and through attending admissions events I was sold. Getting to talk to current students and learn about their experiences in clubs, at career fairs, and even at football games made it abundantly clear to me that the USC community was amazing.
After my first two years at USC, I would definitely say the community here has made my experience super fulfilling. Even in my online freshman year, I was able to connect with numerous alumni who spoke at panels or came to speak about their careers and companies. Even within current students, the clubs and organizations I have joined, like the National Society of Black Engineers and Makers have been extremely welcoming and helpful in getting acclimated to USC. Furthermore, my peers and upperclassmen at USC have really looked out for me and encouraged me to be involved and take on leadership roles. It is comforting and encouraging to know I have a community that not only wants me to succeed, but is excited to help me do so.
Con: Super Close to Home
My hometown of Inglewood, CA is ~20 minutes away from USC on a good day. Having attended many USC events, football games, and summer camps, I was worried that USC wouldn’t give me the independence and new experiences I wanted in college.
Throughout this year, I’ve come to accept that maybe I don’t know as much about LA as I thought I did. Older USC students have told me about all these eating places or other fun things they like to do around campus, and I honestly haven’t even heard of most of them. It’s been fun to continue to explore the city I grew up in and try new things. Plus, I’ve been able to have these experiences with my new college friends. Finally, I have serious doubts I would’ve enjoyed snow and cold weather anyway.
Pro: Viterbi Resources and Opportunities
When researching USC, I learned a lot about the resources and opportunities at Viterbi from undergraduate research, the Career Center, design teams, to study abroad. All these different opportunities seemed really exciting to me.
I am still discovering new resources and opportunities at USC that interest me. From makeathons and hackathons, talks with different companies, fellowships, research presentations, to panels on sustainability, there is so much to explore at USC. There are so many programs at USC and Viterbi that give students unique experiences, like the WVT Rusch Honors Program, the Engineering in Society Program, and the Grand Challenge Scholars Program. Also, a lot of companies recruit at Viterbi. I’ve been able to form relationships with a lot of recruiters and get a lot of tips on professional development.
Con: Huge School
USC has an undergraduate enrollment of around 20,000 and coming from a high school with an 80-person graduating class, I was definitely a little intimidated.
I have definitely been surprised with my class sizes during my time here. All of my engineering classes this year have been 30-80 people, and I know a lot of my classmates now. Even more importantly, all my professors have been super accommodating and accessible. Additionally, a perk of such a big school is being able to meet and interact with so many different people with different interests and goals. The diversity has made my college experience so much more fulfilling.
The concept of Engineering+ was something that I really found was unique to USC when I was deciding. I’m super interested in mechanical engineering, but also wanted to be able to explore other things I enjoy like electronics, movies, sustainability, design, and policy.
Throughout my time at USC, I have been able to expand on my interests both in and outside of class. I have been able to take classes about design, classics, sustainability, and satire and attend events about sustainability, robotics, mental wellbeing, and comedy. Even though the amount of options is sometimes overwhelming, it’s been super fun to have the flexibility to explore, even without declaring a minor.
As I’ve said throughout this blog, I am extremely grateful for the community, resources, and opportunities USC has given me. I have been able to grow personally and academically and have a lot of fun at the same time, which is exactly what I wanted from my college experience. I’ve had access to research, internships, friends, leadership opportunities, mentors and more and I haven’t even lived on campus. I have no regrets about choosing USC over my other options.
I’ve learned so much about USC since first deciding to commit here. I hope my reflections about my time at USC are useful in helping you evaluate what you want from your college experience and how you can find that here.