USC provides avenues for self-discovery

If you’re a freshman, three months ago you were probably cooling your heels and fanning yourself with your USC acceptance letter as you settled into a relaxing, stress-free summer.

But for some, that confidence will fade just moments after arriving on campus for Welcome Week. With self-assured upperclassmen unanimously pumping the “Fight on!” sign in the air every few seconds and grinning students wearing the same ‘SC gear, it’s easy to lose your identity for a few weeks — and adapting your high school persona to a college environment might feel impossible.

Still, in all this confusion, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to have everything figured out in the next few days.

Take USC for example. Even after 132 years, this school is still defining itself, constantly seeking new ways to grow and develop. In 2011, USC accepted generous donations from the Dornsife and Price families, changing the foundation of two of its major colleges: the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Sol Price School of Public Policy.

This year, USC has updated several classrooms with new technology in order to remain at the forefront of undergraduate education. And looking ahead to the future, USC has unveiled a 20-year plan to expand student housing and generate a more “college-town” feel.

With all these changes and innovations, there is no single way to describe what USC is and what it will become. In short, USC has no one definition.

So keep that in mind as you select a major and figure out what student organizations to participate in. Even if you were a theater geek in high school, don’t be afraid to branch out and take that chemistry class that caught your eye. If you’ve never been on a sports team but always wanted to try your hand at archery or horseback riding, don’t hesitate to sign up for one of USC’s unique athletic clubs. If you’ve got a notebook full of unshared poetry, do something daring and take the stage on open mic night at the Ground Zero Performance Cafe.

As you begin to settle into freshman year, you will realize that there is no single brand of Trojan. In fact, USC thrives on the fact that there is no set definition for a USC student.

Just look at this year’s round of Olympic champions. At the 2012 London games, USC alumni won 25 medals — 12 of which were gold — but these winners weren’t just athletes during their time at USC.

Water polo player Kami Craig finished her second appearance at the Olympics but enjoyed surfing and studying sociology during her undergraduate years.

April Ross took home a silver medal in volleyball, but she also developed a love of photography and dance when she studied international relations at USC.

Before graduating in 2010, water polo champion Tumua Anae ruled the pool but majored in broadcast journalism and had a passion for literature.

Though these alumni certainly had a love for sports, they managed to take the time to explore and develop other skills. As you seek to define yourself and your experience at USC, follow what interests you — whether that means changing your major, joining a fraternity or sorority or curling up with a book from Doheny Library on a Thursday night instead of hitting Greek Row.

In the upcoming semester, USC will certainly give you plenty of opportunities for self-exploration. You might find yourself screaming at the top of your lungs with thousands of Trojan fans at the first game of the season and learning a little more about football. Attending a multitude of the 2012-13 Visions & Voices or School of Cinematic Arts Community events might help you develop a taste for the arts. Even talking with friends at the redesigned EVK Restaurant and Grill or Café 84 could help you gain respect for different perspectives and begin to transform some of your own viewpoints.

As you enjoy the way USC has redefined itself for this new school year, don’t be afraid to change who you are as well.

Let this year be about you.