STUDENT BLOG: What I Wish I Would Have Known Freshman Year

getting usc ID cards

          You’re a freshman right now (or about to be), and you are wondering what you can do to make your first year in college as awesome as possible while looking as fabulous as possible. You arrive on campus with expectations of what you want out of your college experience. Well, everyone’s time here at USC is different, and there simply is no single manner of “doing college right.” So, take all those preconceived notions of what you believe college life will be and throw them out of the window of the eighth floor of Pardee Tower.  And just do you.

          Fortunately for all of you reading this, you are in luck, because I want to hook you up with the 411 on what you should know during your freshman year. I will give you some advice on what I wish I had known during my freshman year here at USC, as well as debunk some myths.

1) You aren’t the only person who doesn’t know anyone.

          One of the most exciting and terrifying parts about being a freshman is that you don’t know anyone. It is time to start anew! One of the great things about not knowing anyone is you can be whoever you want to be. Perhaps you were holding back in high school because you were worried about what your friends would think. Well, now there is no reason to hold back since you don’t have any friends! Just kidding, you are going to make more friends than you ever thought possible. Remember, you are the star of your own reality show, and it’s your time to shine!

2)   You don’t have to become best friends with your roommate.

          There is a chance you are paired with your dream best friend, and everything is perfect and you live happily ever after. Sometimes, though, that is not the case. Just because you sleep in the same room as someone else does not mean that you must become best friends with that person. Having a roommate is more like signing a business contract, in which you both agree to certain conditions and live harmoniously by following the rules you both established. The pairing process helps to ensure that you and your roommate are compatible, but do keep an open mind and remember you are not forced to become best friends.

3)   You don’t have to be involved in Greek Life to have a social life.

          Contrary to popular belief, only about 20% of USC students are involved in Greek life. There are many different student organizations on campus and nontraditional fraternities (professional fraternities, service oriented fraternities, multicultural fraternities, etc.) you could join. It’s totally awesome to get involved with, but don’t feel pressured to because it’s not for everyone. You can also decide later– it is super common for many students to go through the recruitment process their sophomore or junior years, once they are certain they really want to get involved.  Personally, I am not involved in Greek Life, but many of my friends are, and they love it!

4)   Attend your professors’ office hours and make an effort to get to know them outside of class.

          In high school it may not have been cool to get to know your teachers, but it’s a whole different story in college. Professors appreciate when students show genuine interest in the subject material or even stop by for a chat. They are an excellent resource for homework help, research opportunities, and can help find you an internship. It may seem scary the first time, but trust me, it gets easier.

5)   Being uncertain about your major is probably a requirement for graduation.

          Practically every college student, at some point or another, considers switching his or her major (and some do, multiple times!). This is simply because, as cliché as it sounds, college courses change your perspective on life and can expose you to opportunities you never knew existed. I personally switched my major a few times (yes, during my freshman year!) until I finally found the right one for me. Talk to your academic advisor; they are here to help you and will give you extensive feedback and guidance.

6)   It might take a while to adjust to the differences between high school and college.

          A month. A semester. Maybe more. Although it is common to hear people say that you will have a lot more free time in college, you will also have a lot more homework, reading, and out of class activities. The key difference between high school and college is knowing how to manage your time because you don’t have a parent with you at all times to do that. With some smart time management, you can ensure a happy and healthy balance of academics and extracurricular activities.

7)   Just do you.

          Do you while here at USC. If you could only take away one thing from this blog, make sure it is this: just do you. As I said earlier, you are the star of your own reality show, and I really mean it. At the end of every day, if you can go to bed (and hopefully you will because you finished your Writing 140 paper way in advance…) knowing you put an honest effort into everything you wanted to, you will have a positive outlook and never wonder “what if”.

Follow these tips, and you will exude such confidence people might just think you’re a senior.

Fight On!

The International Community of USC


          Here at USC, we pride ourselves on being reflective of the diverse metropolis that houses us: Los Angeles. When you come to USC, you will be surrounded by students and faculty members alike from all over the country and from all across the globe. In fact, there is no ethnic majority at USC, and ten percent of last year’s freshman class was made up of international students.

          Within the United States, the most represented geographic areas at USC are California, Texas, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Washington. Outside of the U.S., the most represented areas are China (including Hong Kong), South Korea, Canada, Taiwan, India, and Mexico.

          Joseph Harari, a current sophomore from Mexico, shared his experience as an international student at USC:

                    Every day, you are surrounded by students from countries all over the world. I currently live with four other students from Latin backgrounds, which has allowed me to learn more about Panamanian culture, Guatemalan culture, etc. As a business student, we have a lot of interaction with our classmates. The other day in my Macroeconomics course, there was a girl from Dubai in my group, which was helpful because she was able to bring first-hand knowledge about the United Arab Emirates’ economy. Having other international students around is also good because we can help each other with paperwork, finding internships, and other logistical things like that. You meet so many people from so many different backgrounds; it really opens up the world for you.

          Having students at USC from all over the world adds to both the academic and social experiences of all students. Kristen Chang, an Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admission and an alumna of the University, describes her positive experience:

                    In a single day, my morning would be spent at my on-campus job with my coworker from Dubai; my afternoon was in a discussion section with my classmate from Melbourne; in the evening I would hit the Lyon Center with my workout buddy from Munich; I would then eat dinner with my roommate who was from Japan. In other words, I would travel the globe in a day, and these encounters only enriched my time spent at USC by allowing me to experience different cultures and perspectives to which I may not have otherwise been exposed.

          At USC, one can have a truly global experience without even leaving the walls of campus!

And They’re Off!

Decision letters are out today! Read the blog below written by our very own Dean of Admission, Tim Brunold, as he reflects on this year’s file review process and gives a statistical overview of the admitted freshman class.


          We began reading applications 149 days ago and finally wrapped up our deliberations within the last twenty four hours. Moments ago, we loaded trucks with more than 45,000 pieces of mail, and over the next few days, USC’s admission decisions for the class of 2017 will be revealed.

          As I reflect on our work, I become aware of just how quickly the tables have turned: high school seniors have been waiting with nervous anticipation to hear from us, now we’ll be anxiously waiting to hear from them. We know that the students we’ve admitted are among the best in the world. All have many excellent options for college and we can hardly wait to find out who will accept our offer and join the Trojan Family.

          Getting our decisions in the mail is the culmination of many months (and tens-of-thousands of hours) of work. I am incredibly proud of the entire USC Enrollment Services team—for its dedication, effort and professionalism. The group of students that we have identified for admission is the best in USC’s 133-year history!

          And speaking of incredible students, here are just a few details about this year’s admitted freshman class:

• 19.6% of applicants were admitted
• More than 3,100 different high schools are represented
• Our admitted students come from every U.S. state, the District of Columbia and 79 different countries
• Outside of California, the five most represented states are Texas, Illinois, New York, Washington and Massachusetts
• Outside the U.S., the most represented countries are China, South Korea, India, Canada and Singapore
• 1-in-9 is the first in their family to attend college
• 64% are students of color
• 17% are international students
• The typical admitted student has an un-weighted high school GPA of 3.8. With weighting, the GPA is well over 4.0.
• The typical admitted student took 6-8 AP courses (assuming they were available at his or her high school)
• 75% of our admitted students have standardized test scores in at least the 95th percentile

          Thank you for coming on this journey with us. Regardless of the outcome, we have certainly enjoyed getting to know each and every applicant over the last year. On behalf of all of us at USC, I want to wish every prospective student the best of luck as they begin this next exciting chapter of their lives.

Fight On!

Timothy Brunold
Dean of Admission

P.S. Don’t think for a moment that any of us is going on vacation anytime soon! Between now and May 1st, we are hosting fifty different admitted student events, many miles to travel and many thousands of students and parents to meet. And then there are those 8,000+ transfer applications; they aren’t going to read themselves!