California School of the Arts

USC: A college for you?

When most people think of the University of Southern California (USC), they think of football and their athletics programs, but what else makes this school stand out from the others?

Emilie Skoog, a senior studying Biology and Geology, explained, “USC is special, because it has an incredible amount of opportunities in a variety of different fields. We excel in a lot of areas, so it’s pretty cool to come to a place and know that whatever major you end up choosing or switching to (yes it’s okay to switch your major!), USC will have an incredible program with many internship, scholarship, and volunteer opportunities.”

An example of different interests was Ellen Feldman, a graduate of class 2014, who was torn between music and engineering. In the end, she chose to major in electrical engineering. However, USC still gave her the chance to continue. For three of her four years at USC, she took private piano lessons through USC’s Thornton School of Music. This meant that once a week, she had an hour-long lesson with a teacher.

The alumni stated, “This was a great opportunity, and I was glad to be able to keep playing piano and become a better musician alongside the engineering curriculum.”

Thus, USC offers not only world class education in your primary major, but also provide amazing support for other secondary interests.

How does USC compare with other prestigious private schools? Ellen Feldman was accepted to both Caltech and Harvey Mudd, but chose USC. According to her, it wasn’t because of just academics.

She said, “I believe that it’s important to pick a school where you feel comfortable. I liked all of the students whom I met there when visiting.”

Skoog added that even though USC was a considerably larger school, “it’s nearly impossible to walk anywhere on campus without running into so many people that you know. The environment is incredibly supportive; it is not a competitive or cut-throat environment. It is so easy to meet people here.”

It appears that both Trojans have agreed that USC has a very supportive atmosphere, “especially for women in STEM. USC also has a very active chapter of the Society of Women in Engineering (SWE), which is an encouraging and supportive organization,” Feldman concludes.   

In addition to students creating a supportive environment, teachers do as well. “Many of my professors served as my mentors and went out of their way to answer questions and give help,” explained Feldman.

One professor Feldman described, was Dr. Prata, who taught electromagnetic engineering. Dr. Prata encouraged Feldman to ask  deeper questions.

She continued, “Dr. Prata taught us to question our assumptions and to realize how little we actually know.This is an important lesson; especially as a grad student, I find [the] more I learn, the more I realize that I don’t know.”

Feldman aspires to be a professor herself when she earns her PhD.

USC is a place for those who are seeking other interests beside schoolwork. This can help you get accepted. Skoog further explained, “USC is looking for students who have a side passion that they pursue, whether that be putting on jump rope conventions, because you love to jump rope, or raising money for a cause that you care about.”

Being well rounded with different passions isn’t just important for getting into college, “but also for making sure that you’re on the right path towards becoming the person that you want to be,” added Feldman .

Don’t worry. Choosing a college is a difficult decision.

Skoog advised, “Do not panic if you do not know what you want to do.  I didn’t figure out what I wanted to do until right before senior year of college! You may even think you do know what you want to do with your life (like I thought I did), but be open to discovering new things. I never thought I would be where I am now, but it was all because I decided to take a class and learn about something new.”

If you already have an idea, or a study you’re sticking too, Feldman recommended, “challenging yourself to ask thoughtful questions and not to give up on finding the answers. From my experience in science and engineering, asking important unanswered questions can lead to understanding and progress if you are willing to work to find the answers.”

Feldman recalled that being at USC, “were the four happiest years of my life.”