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. 

Transfer Talk Tuesday: Transfer Journey – First Generation 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. 

Eliana Cotom is a junior from Los Angeles, California, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Education and Society. In 2020, she transferred from Santa Monica College (SMC) to USC. In addition to being a Transfer Ambassador for the Office of Undergraduate Admission, Eliana is also a Dornsife Intern and is involved with student clubs at USC.  

Attending USC had always been my dream, yes I know…very cliche but true. Growing up around USC, I always wanted to attend and be a part of the Trojan family.  

Like many first-generation students, I was unable to ask parents or family members for guidance on what to expect from the college application process, how to answer certain questions, or how to consider what college was the best fit – so – I heavily depended on school and outside resources for guidance. There is an extra layer of stress, anxiety, worry, and pressure that many first-generation students can resonate with. This ranges from the stress, worry, anxiety of entering the application process on your own, how to attend college without being a financial burden on family, the pressure of being the role model for those who follow, and figuring out how to apply for scholarships and financial aid without much help. I remember having to navigate the application portal and figuring out financial aid on my own. There were many questions that I didn’t even know I had until I reached an issue, because I didn’t know what to expect from the application process. I went through the first-year application process almost completely alone, and the transfer process with guidance, but even with guidance I still felt anxious, worried, and stressed.  Applying and transferring to USC was a journey of its own but attending a community college was definitely helpful in learning to adjust to college courses, gaining independence, and growing as a student and person. During my time at SMC, I had a variety of resources at my disposal and was even able to have resources from USC specifically that helped me navigate through the transfer process more easily. One tip I will give for prospective transfers is to make appointments with your counselor, get to know them, and make yourself known. My counselor was very helpful in my transfer process. Many first-gens are lost in the first-year college application process already, and the transfer process is a completely new experience for many, so reaching out to your counselor is very helpful – you can even reach out to your assigned USC Admission Counselor. Another tip I will give, especially for those attending California Community Colleges (CCCs) is to constantly look at the articulation agreements that USC has with CCCs – this document was my best friend when looking for classes. I cannot emphasize this enough for CCC students. USC also has a handful of resources specific to transferring to USC, such as the Transferring to USC brochure

Many questions and worries that first-gens have when applying, including myself, are regarding finances and affordability. I am happy to say that USC has a handful of scholarships for admitted students and provides full USC determined financial need (please keep in mind that this number is determined by USC, not the student). USC has scholarships that are geared towards first-gen students and low-income students, such as the Norman Topping Scholarship and specific scholarships based on communities that one identifies with. More scholarships can be found here. Another worry that I had (I receive a lot of questions about this too) is about inclusivity and diversity here at USC. The school has a handful of resources and student organizations that provide students a space to feel at home and find support and “your people.”  

One key differentiator that USC has is definitely the Trojan Family. The USC logo is recognizable worldwide. I have heard stories about people being in different continents while wearing USC merchandise, seeing the “V for Victory” sign and hearing “Fight On” from random people. Explaining the Trojan Family is much harder than expected because it goes beyond words but simply put, it is a family that provides connections and support.   

Before attending USC I had already heard and known about the Trojan Family, but I had never truly experienced it until I was attending USC and began telling people that I was a USC student. I would create connections with people from simply stating I was a USC student.  

Lastly, I encourage everyone to apply to USC, especially first-gen and low-income students. Entering a new environment is scary, and being a transfer student and being first-gen makes the process a lot more nerve-wracking, but this should not discourage anyone from applying. USC has a multitude of resources for its students. If you’re worried about finances, apply to scholarships both in and outside of USC. If you’re worried about whether you’ll fit in because you’re a transfer student, a first-gen student, and/or low income, there are many clubs and organizations (such as the First Gen+ Center on campus where you can find community. ) If you’re worried about being seen differently because you’re first- gen or a transfer student, believe me – you won’t. Everyone here has their own journey. My overall piece of advice is to apply, apply, apply.   

Written by Eliana Cotom, (she/her/hers), 3rd year at USC studying Psychology.


Did Somebody Say Food?

If you are like me and love food, then I bet you are wondering about our dining options (heck, even snack options). Let me break it down for you:

At USC, there is always something that is just right for you, and it’s always easy to eat well. Over the years, our campus has experienced many updates to our traditional dining halls, which include Everybody’s Kitchen (EVK), Parkside, and USC Village Dining. These three dining halls are strategically located throughout our campus to give our students convenient options just steps from their dorm rooms. The dining halls provide a wide variety of dining options including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and more!  If you have food allergies, there is the Allergen Awareness Zone in Parkside that serves food that doesn’t contain the top eight allergens. If you have the time, I encourage you to check out what is being served at each dining hall, so you can pick a place to visit and eat your favorites. You can view each dining hall’s daily menu on the USC Hospitality Residential Menu site.  

USC also has halal and kosher options for students with religious dietary needs. Kosher entrees are available at Parkside (IRC) and at Seeds Marketplace. There’s also the SChalom floor in Parkside that facilitates Kosher cooking in resident kitchens. USC has expanded kosher options in recent years, including making hot kosher entrees available daily. Places like LiteraTea have fresh kosher salads available every day, as well. In addition to on campus halal options, there are also many outstanding halal restaurants in Los Angeles, given our large Muslim population. 

In general, you’ll find that we do our best to be inclusive of all food lovers.  For the health nuts and the junk food lovers, you will find something to suit your palette on campus. With salad bars, smoothies, wok stations, waffle makers, grills, and a variety of ice cream/frozen yogurt options, there’s something for everyone. The Tutor Campus Center (TCC) offers restaurants and cafes such as Seeds Marketplace that feature grab ‘n go options, as well as made-to-order sandwiches and salads. Panda Express, Verde, and Burger Crush serve familiar fare. And of course, what campus center would be complete without staples such as pizza and coffee? Students can order salads, pastas, and pizzas at The Kitchen or order a favorite coffee or ice-blended beverage at C&G Tea Co. And to make the food search even easier, USC Hospitality now uses a Mobile Ordering app!  

There is also my personal food heaven: the USC Village! It offers such a wide range of options from delicious dining to lifestyle shopping, fitness centers, and so much more.  You could get ramen from Ramen KENJO or tacos at City Tacos. Do you have a seafood craving? I recommend the clam chowder at Oceana Seafood. Or try Cava (the Admission Office’s favorite) for delicious, create-your-own grain bowls, salads, and pitas.  Don’t forget to try a churro from Dulce, too! Finally, our newest addition to the USC Village is…Insomnia Cookies!  There are so many more restaurants I could rave about in the USC Village, but I recommend your taste buds test it out for themselves. 

With all of these options for food, there are also a ton of options for COFFEE! Last December, the Office of Undergraduate Admission explored the various cafes on campus and reviewed some favorite cozy drinks. It’s safe to say that we were fully caffeinated (maybe too caffeinated – some of us were a bit jittery).  Check out the Cozy Campus Coffee Spots blog for the full reviews! 

Lastly, a real treat that is offered on campus is the Trojan Farmers’ Market that occurs every Wednesday on the McCarthy Quad at 11am-3pm. The Trojan Farmers’ Market is committed to offering healthy food to students, staff, faculty, and surrounding community members. There are over 30 local vendors who offer a variety of locally grown produce, handmade products, and fresh healthy foods. Some favorites among us current Trojans are fresh strawberries, homemade hummus, pupusas, and fresh salsa. 

Our students truly have a large variety of options when it comes to finding brain food on campus. The next time you visit, we hope you’ll grab a snack and experience a taste of what our campus has to offer! 

Written by: 

Dylan Goodwill, Assistant Director – USC Office of Undergraduate Admission