Transfer Talk Tuesdays: Expectation vs. Reality 

Hello! My name is Dalay Buenrostro, I am a junior studying Psychology and also taking the pre-dental route. I grew up in Southern California all my life and it’s been the best. Growing up here, my dream was to attend USC. From a young age, I knew it was attainable. I just didn’t know how much it would take to get here. Nonetheless, I was ready to do whatever I had to in order to get accepted. Fast forward, here I am at the best university in the world. 

As we all set our goals along the way we begin to think, “What expectations do I have to meet?”  Most of us have some expectations in our mind, but sometimes they are far from reality. With USC being such a prestigious university, I often found myself really questioning whether I would get in or not. I believed in myself wholeheartedly, but I always thought of the magnitude the school held. However, once I was accepted I realized that the expectations are only as real as you make them out to be.  

Expectation #1: “There are too many students, I’ll never get the chance to speak with my advisor as often as I would like.” 

Reality: Definitely not true! Yes, there are a lot of students, but there is a great amount of support from advisors. Personally, I like to meet with my advisor regularly to check in on my progress and it has never been a hassle to secure an appointment.  

Expectation #2: “Everything is about academics, there are no interesting organizations I can possibly join.” 

Reality: Of course there are plenty of great organizations one can join! There are over 1,000+ recognized student organizations open to anyone. We all get stressed out with school work, so what better way to relieve it than by making new friends and taking interest in new things! Here is a list of clubs/organizations on campus. 

Expectation #3: “I’m going to get very overwhelmed and I’ll have no support.” 

Reality: There are so many mental health resources available to students. We all understand that there are times where situations may become overwhelming, and there are plenty of resources to lean on. Mental health and the well-being of all students is a priority at USC. There are counseling services as well as therapy groups available. Here are Mental Health, Well-being and Support Resources for Students.  

There is no step-by-step manual book to follow, and that is what makes everyone’s experience at USC unique. I had a number of expectations upon stepping foot onto campus, many of which have exceeded. My time at USC has been a rollercoaster, but knowing that there are people, support programs, and more, has allowed me to grow and not limit myself. Expectations aren’t always negative – they can be helpful too, as they can provide insight to what should be expected from an experience. In short, relish each moment and take it all in. 

Written by Dalay Buenrostro, 3rd year at USC studying Psychology Pre-Dental 

Transfer Talk Tuesday: Resources for Transfers

Eliana Cotom is a senior from Los Angeles, California, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Education & 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 Psychology Student Ambassador and is involved with student clubs at USC.   

As transfer students, there are so many worries that can creep into us, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the changes. There are social, academic, and even environmental changes that transfers have to get used to in a short amount of time. Transferring to USC is an adjustment, and it can take a while to fully adjust to life as a USC student – it’s a normal part of being in a new setting. I had many worries when transferring. I worried about being “behind,” I worried that people had already found their community, that people had already adjusted to USC while I was barely starting, that I would be behind academically, and that I would be behind in my career development. To anyone feeling this way…your feelings are valid. Once I arrived at USC, I quickly realized how much I had available to me, which eased my transition and minimized my worries. USC has so many resources for its students, ranging from academic support and career opportunities/development to social and cultural spaces. 

I want to give a big shout-out to the Student Equity and Inclusion Programs (SEIP). Office. These programs are priceless, fostering community spaces for students to feel welcomed. SEIP also hosts welcome events for all new students, including transfers! SEIP programs include: 

  • Asian Pacific American Student Services (APASS) 
  • Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs (CBCSA) 
  • First Generation Plus Success Center (FG+SC) 
  • Latinx/Chicanx Center for Advocacy and Student Affairs (La CASA) 
  • LGBTQ+ Student Center 
  • Middle Eastern & North African Student Lounge 
  • Native American & Pasifika Student Lounge 
  • Student Basic Needs 
  • Veteran Resource Center 

The First Generation Plus Success Center (FG+SC) provides support for first-generation students, transfer students, former foster youth, and undocumented and DACA students. The FG+SC truly cares about the physical space that it gives to transfer students. It hosts workshops and has resources for transfer students, such as collaborating with the Transfer Student Assembly and developing a Transfer Student Handbook, providing information about how to understand your transfer credit report (TCR), USC terminology, contacts for departments and resources, and more. As a first-generation Latina and transfer student, these programs made a significant impact on my experience at USC. I remember being welcomed by La CASA and the First Generation Plus Success Center. When I first entered these spaces, I immediately felt an overwhelming sense of belonging.  

USC’s Career Center provides many resources for job opportunities and career development as well. The Career Center is home to ConnectSC and the host of our semesterly Career Fair. Services that the Career center provides include career advising, career development tools, and workshops ranging from career exploration and help with resumes/cover letters, to interview preparation and offer negotiation. Individual academic departments also have their individual career centers that are open to their students such as Dornsife Career Pathways and Marshall Career Services

Academically, USC has many support programs for its students. I want to preface this by saying that using these resources, regardless of whether or not you’re struggling, is definitely the way to go. One of the most well-known academic resources is Supplemental Instruction (SI), which is an academic support program for students in traditionally difficult courses. SI is completely free and consists of students who have previously taken and passed the course they are providing SI for. Other academic resources include the Math Center and Writing Center. I personally love the Writing Center because they provide services that can go beyond helping students on a paper or assignment. They even help out with personal statements for scholarship applications and graduate school applications – anything that involves writing. Fun fact: they helped me with my graduate school applications! 

Another resource that I would like to highlight is the Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity. I learned about the Kortschak Center during my first semester here at USC and still use their resources. The Kortschak Center provides academic coaching and hosts events and workshops to promote and facilitate creativity and academic excellence by supporting students regardless of learning differences or preferences. I love the Kortschak Center because it provides resources and tips on how to manage my time. I have used their semester calendar since my first semester, and it’s made all the difference in how I organize my assignments, projects, and exams. The Kortschak Center also provides resources on organization, prioritization/productivity, self-care, classroom success, and more – it even has a computer lab and quiet study space.  

There are so many resources available here at USC that it is impossible to list them all! But here are some links to additional campus resources:  

Feeling nervous about transferring and getting used to so many new things is normal. USC supports its students, both first-year and transfer students, to adjust to their new environment and make the most out of their time here. 

Written by Eliana Cotom, Class of 2023

Transfer Talk Tuesday: Research as a Transfer

Jaqueline (Jackie) Lutz-Hibbard is a senior on the pre-med track studying biological sciences at USC. In her junior year, she transferred to USC from Sarah Lawrence College, a small liberal arts college in New York. When she is not studying, she works as a student lab research assistant at USC Keck, in addition to serving as a Transfer Ambassador with USC’s Admissions Department. 

Research as a Transfer Student: Jackie Lutz-Hibbard 

By just being a student at USC, hundreds of doors have opened, seemingly all at once. The possible connections are endless, and the volume of options can feel overwhelming at times. 

The sole reason I transferred to USC was to gain access to undergraduate research opportunities; in fact, I framed my entire personal statement around this goal. Although I was eager to begin searching for a research position immediately, I realized I needed time to settle into being a student at USC. I needed to figure out what time commitments I could agree to, and to settle into the rhythm of being at a new school. This included taking the time to make personal connections. I started searching for opportunities halfway through my first semester and starting at the USC Keck lab in December of that semester. 

With research, especially at a huge institution such as USC, the number of opportunities is almost overwhelming. As a pre-med major, I am most familiar with medical-based research, which I will focus on for the rest of this article. However, there are also immense amounts of research available for other interests! 

As I began my search, I first decided on what kind of research I was interested in. While I looked at a variety of labs, I knew I wanted to work in a clinical setting and focused my search there. 

Opportunities for research can be found in email newsletters, advertisements posted to message boards, and offered by professors both in and outside of class. I started by simply searching “clinical research for undergraduates at USC” online to look at all the possibilities and decide what I wanted in a lab. Through this simple Google search, I found the lab I was interested in, which focused on nicotine and tobacco addiction. The application process for each lab is different; mine required sending in a resume, answers to short questions, and a series of interviews. Within a month of submitting my application, I had completed my interviews and been accepted and began as a Student Research assistant. 

Overall, your journey will be unique to you, and while other people’s timelines can be helpful to look at, do not compare your own journey with others. Remember to give yourself grace and time. 

Written by Jaqueline (Jackie) Lutz-Hibbard, Class of 2023