Transfer Talk Tuesday: Expectations vs Reality 

Transfer Talk Tuesdays are a series of personal blogs where current USC transfer students dive deeper into their real-life stories, perspectives, and experiences in transferring to USC. Note that each transfer application is unique and there are no guaranteed paths to transfer. For guidance on how to put together a competitive transfer application, please review our Transferring to USC brochure. 

Hi everyone! My name is Savanna Fakhoury, and I am a current junior studying Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. I was born and raised in Southern California, and I come from a very large and fun Jordanian and Syrian family. I enjoy traveling, spending time with family and friends, going to the beach, reading, listening to podcasts, baking, going to concerts, and watching reality TV. I hope to one day become a physician and work in underserved populations, specifically within displaced refugee groups. My journey to USC was quite an interesting one, and I am excited to share a bit about my experience and what I have learned so far.  

I went to an all-girls Catholic high school and was a part of the choir group at school. Our choir group was invited to perform at USC’s Caruso Catholic Center – my first-time setting foot on what I had not known would become my home. I remember telling myself not to get too attached to the school because I did not think USC would be an option for me. That was my first expectation that was far from reality. Little did I know, I was offered an opportunity to apply to transfer to USC for my sophomore year. Although I knew for quite some time USC was for me, I was worried about not assimilating into the school well. So many questions were at the forefront of my mind. I did not know what to expect, but as I have been here for a few years now, I thought I would share some things I learned along the way.  

Expectation #1: “It’ll be hard to meet people and form connections, especially due to the pandemic” 
Reality: This is SO not true. USC has more than 1,000 student organizations and so many opportunities to find people and organizations you mesh well with. I found my home in many different places: Keck Student Ambassadors, the American Medical Women’s Association, through my research on prostate cancer at the Keck School of Medicine, and with my fellow ambassadors at the Office of Undergraduate Admission. College is what you make of it. Put yourself out there, and wonderful experiences and people will come your way.  

Expectation #2: “USC is a big school, will I get swallowed in the crowd?”
Reality: No! Professors and the university really foster a welcoming environment and give many opportunities for us students to make connections. Class sizes are smaller, and our personal educational experience is of great importance to USC.  

Expectation #3: “It’s tough finding people who have similar interests and goals.” 
Reality: Not at all! USC aims to have a very diverse and inclusive environment for all students. The 1,000+ student organizations help students find a group with similar interests and goals.  

Expectation #4: “If I struggle in school, I am on my own.” 
Reality: This is so not true! There are so many resources USC offers to give us students support. Professors host weekly office hours, many classes offer free supplemental instruction, and we have the Kortschak Learning Center to help guide and support us through our academic journey.  

Expectation #5: “It will be easy to take a full course load, be involved in many organizations, and have lots of free time to spend with friends and family.” 
Reality: In all honesty, I thought I would be able to do it all. I have since concluded that academics at USC are very rigorous, and organizations require time and commitment. I have learned that the key to balance is time management. With a calendar, planner, and an optimistic viewpoint, college life will be very fulfilling and balanced. It’s all about being open minded!  

In conclusion, we all have expectations about what an experience will be like and how things will turn out to be – in every situation, even beyond college. Expectations are comforting, as they help us mentally plan for the unknown ahead, but they are also limiting.  

There is no standardized formula to have the perfect college experience because the college experience is different for everyone. Everything that occurs is unique to our own stories and paths, in order to help form us into the humans we are meant to become.  

Attending USC has been the best decision I have ever made. I have had many expectations, some aligning and some not aligning with reality. My advice to you: just go with it and enjoy all that is to come! 

Written by  Savanna Fakhoury, (she/her/hers), 3rd year at USC studying  Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. 



Transfer Talk Tuesday: Research as a Transfer Student 

Transfer Talk Tuesdays are a series of personal blogs where current USC transfer students dive deeper into their real-life stories, perspectives, and experiences in transferring to USC. Note that each transfer application is unique and there are no guaranteed paths to transfer. For guidance on how to put together a competitive transfer application, please review our Transferring to USC brochure. 

My name is Darya Esmaeilshirazi, and I’m a senior at USC studying Health and Human Sciences on the pre-dental track. I transferred from El Camino College, and I want to be an oral oncologist working in underserved community dental clinics. I transferred to USC in fall 2020 and started my journey at USC during the COVID-19 pandemic. While my journey of adjustment to USC and being on the pre-dental track could’ve been challenging, I still truly felt that I received the whole Trojan experience and explored USC via research and other meaningful extracurricular experiences.  

My decision to apply as a transfer student at USC started with a four-day program at the USC Ostrow School of Dentistry called the Pre-Dental Explorers program. While I was among the few community college students attending the program, I felt a true sense of support and community amongst the students. With guidance from the faculty, I decided that I’d like to transfer to USC for my undergraduate studies. Initially, I was concerned about the cost of attending USC and finding extracurricular opportunities given the big student body of the school. I was contemplating whether attending a smaller school would allow me to explore more close relationships with my professors. I thought it would be easier for me to do research and other activities if the school size was smaller. However, through asking friends I made during my dental internship program and my conversations with my Admission Counselor, I realized that there is a ton of support for all students despite the size of the student body. Now that I have been a Trojan for two years, I can say that the individual support and attention I received were impeccable, and I’m so glad I decided to attend USC despite my initial concerns.  

Once I started at USC, as a first-generation student on a pre-health track, I felt as though I had to do everything. My first semester was filled with volunteer activities, clubs, and other extracurricular activities. However, I honestly struggled to find a research position – specifically a research position that was meaningful and rewarding to me. Most labs, if not all, were not taking students due to COVID-19 restrictions, and I remember many failed trials to find a lab or a professor that allowed me to do research with them. I explored various ways to find volunteer positions. Initially, I started by reading the research work of the faculty in the Psychology department, and I began by ‘cold’ emailing the professors whose work was interesting to me and explained to them that I’d like to do research with them. They all were very supportive and told me with regrets that they wouldn’t offer me a position due to COVID-19 restrictions, but that I can email them back again in a few months. I then started to ask my friends and other professors about positions if they knew of any. Finally, I was able to apply for a position at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA), which I learned about through the Instagram page of the psychology department. While doing my research at CHLA, I learned about a short-term position at the Social Psychology department through a professor whom I expressed interest in researching with months ago.  

My best advice to find a research position at USC as a transfer student is not to give up and explore all means of resources! The process of transferring and finding meaningful extracurricular experiences is a little challenging. However, I genuinely believe that there is an experience for all types of interests at USC to be explored and with patience and hard work, finding those experiences is possible!  

Written by Darya Esmaeilshirazi (she/her/hers), 4th year at USC studying Health and Human Sciences. 



Transfer Talk Tuesday: Relationships with Advisor/Faculty

Transfer Talk Tuesdays are a series of personal blogs where current USC transfer students dive deeper into their real-life stories, perspectives, and experiences in transferring to USC. Note each transfer application is unique and there are no guaranteed paths to transfer. For guidance on how to put together a competitive transfer application, please review our Transferring to USC brochure. 

Hi, my name is Ellie Chen and I’m currently a junior transfer student majoring in Business Administration and pursuing my master’s in Finance as part of USC’s Progressive Degree program. For those who are not familiar, the Progressive Degree Program offers selective master degrees to undergraduate students who want to pursue a master’s while still being an undergraduate. (For those who are interested in learning more regarding the Progressive Degree Program, click here). I transferred to USC after my freshman year at a smaller private university and spent my sophomore year online. As a junior, I’m so grateful to finally be on campus and I currently work in the USC’s Office of Admission as a Transfer Ambassador, which helps prospective community college students. 

Throughout my time at USC, my academic advisor has been so helpful with planning out my classes, exploring different minors, or discussing different upper-division classes to take. When I first transferred to USC, I wasn’t sure about which classes to take as a sophomore and the different career options within such a broad major like Business Administration. However, my Marshall academic advisor reached out to me the summer before my first semester to help me pick courses for the upcoming school year and create a tentative schedule of classes to make sure I fulfilled all of the requirements. On top of this information regarding classes, she also gave me tips on how to explore my interests within the realm of business both inside and outside of the classroom. As the semesters progressed, my advisor updated my class schedule and, if I had any problems, it was easy to schedule an appointment with her to get advice regarding which upper-division courses best fit my interests, whether or not to take some of my classes Pass/No Pass, or any other academic problems I faced.  

On top of guiding students with their academics, advisors are also incredibly knowledgeable in all of the resources offered by USC. For example, when I was first considering whether or not to apply for the Progressive Degree Program, my advisor encouraged me to schedule a one-on-one chat with a Marshall career counselor who is informed on the topic. (For more information regarding the Marshall Career Center, click here). The chat ended up being really helpful and, when I decided to pursue the program, my advisor worked with me to create a course plan that fulfilled both my undergraduate and graduate degree requirements.  

All in all, my advisor made such a big difference when it came to my transition to USC as she relieved so much stress I had regarding course scheduling and transfer credits. I’m so grateful for my advisor in supporting and guiding me in my academic journey here at USC and maximizing my college experience.  

Written by Ellie Chen, (she/her/hers), 3rd year at USC studying Business Administration.