Amid the sea of flashy USC lanyards and twin XL packaged sheets, the end of August will bring a wave of new faces to campus. Being thrust into a completely new world that has its own ins and outs, secret language and way of life is intimidating. But for the first semester, students have the ability to choose which facet of USC to absorb.
The spirit of the Trojan Family manifests itself in different ways for each person. Some people feel it standing in the bleachers with hundreds of their classmates, while others feel it working in the Daily Trojan newsroom late at night. Some people feel it in the streets of Los Angeles, while others feel it in their classrooms or libraries.
USC is known for the diversity of talent within the student body. Internationally recognized athletes sit in the same seats as professional actors, computer scientists, entrepreneurs and musicians. Frequently, names will appear in publications celebrating a student at USC, routinely reminding the community that there is much to learn from every single person who walks through these doors. Achievements are celebrated in diverse ways and platforms are provided for students of all abilities to shine.
The most special thing about USC is its ability to allow students to mold their experiences into something entirely different from that of the person sitting next to them. One student can spend their entire college experience buried deep in the depths of Leavey Library, while another can choose to study the nooks and crannies of Los Angeles. Some can find their way to parties every weekend, while others can find themselves on the stage in McClintock Theatre. There are few schools that create such a strong sense of unity while allowing individuality to bloom so prolifically.
There is no “guide” to succeeding at USC, because every day you have the freedom to make your own choices. There is no secret formula to having the “most USC” time because there is no one thing that defines the experience.
There are some things that seem universal: the struggle of finding a table at Leavey Library during dead week, the choruses of groans and grumbles about EVK food, the sweltering mid-September heat. However, you might just meet a senior who has yet to step foot in Leavey, someone who will defend EVK food to the death or someone who moved from somewhere bitterly cold just to sit in that harsh Southern California sun.
The USC community has a long way to go before it can truly call itself inclusive. Part of being in the Trojan Family is recognizing the faults of the community. Students can then take it upon themselves to bridge the gaps that they see, in the places they are passionate about. But this school has also come a long way in developing opportunities, presence and accessibility to become a university that allows different types of students to thrive. USC’s strength comes from its diversity, and the school can and should only improve on it as it continues to develop and grow.
There is no secret formula to success at USC, but students who get the most out of their experiences are the ones who are resolute. At a place where there are unlimited paths, students must be careful and thoughtful in the choices they make, the classes they take, the clubs they join and the people they befriend.
As all the choices reveal themselves during the first semester and beyond, there is no “right” path. The ability to explore and take risks with a safety net is what college is for, and USC gives students enough independence to learn and grow while they weigh their options.