As I began applying to colleges in my senior year, there was only one thought on my mind: I have to get out of Ohio. More specifically, I knew I belonged in California. With this in mind, I applied to many of California’s top tier schools (including Stanford, Berkeley, UCSB, UCSD, USC and UCLA). I also applied to Northwestern and Ohio State University to my parent’s request of staying closer to home. However, at this point, my heart was set on Stanford. Yet, as fate would have it, that was the only school to reject me.

I now set my sights on exploring the other schools. I had been to OSU several times and did not like the big campus, concrete jungle feel as well as the fact that it was too close to home. So, that was off of my list. Next, I visited Northwestern. While it has an amazing engineering program, it lacked a couple of things I wanted out of my college experience: a good social life, a good football team, and beautiful weather. However, I did not immediately cross it off my list as fast as I did OSU. Now it was time to explore California.

Over several trips, I was able to visit UCSB, UCSD, UCLA, and USC. All of these campuses were gorgeous and located in prime locations to explore the city around them. And all of them had good science/engineering programs. However, out of these four, USC appealed to me the most. Yet Berkeley was still on the list because I loved the city of San Francisco, the people in the area, a good social life, and I could not discount the strength and prestige of its engineering program.

So now I had to choose between USC, Berkeley, and Northwestern. When I sat down, thought about each school, and had to make a decision as to where I went, it became clear USC was the choice for me.

To put it simply, USC offered everything that I was looking for. First of all, it has one of the best engineering programs in the country. Not only that, but the engineers at USC told me how they were encouraged to enjoy other facets of USC life such as non-engineering student organizations. I felt that students here could easily pursue a minor or another major if they chose to. Here, you could usually find an opportunity to travel abroad and study, something I have always wanted to do in high school. In essence, USC had the perfect balance of education with social life for me. Throw in the generous financial aid package, the beautiful weather and the amount of things to do in the surrounding area, and you might understand why I chose this school.