Former Disney Star Laura Marano enrolls at USC

After deferring a year from college, Austin and Ally actress Laura Marano is coming to USC as a freshman this fall. Her Disney Channel show will air its finale this January, cueing the 19-year-old’s up-and-coming songwriting career along with her intended major of philosophy, politics and law.

“College was always in my future since I was a little girl. Both my parents are teachers, so education is really important to me,” Marano said. “I am in the unique situation of already doing the career I want to do for the rest of my life. I feel like I should take advantage of that and get a degree in something I truly just want to learn more about.”

The Los Angeles native chose to attend the university not only because of its proximity to home and her family, but also because of its relationship with mother and USC alumna, Ellen Marano.

“My mother not only was a Trojan, but was also a Song Girl,” Marano said. “So USC was one of my top choices from the beginning. After doing a tour and talking to a few of my friends who had gone there, I knew USC was 100 percent the school for me.”

Marano not only dedicates herself to her education but also to her work as a developing performer. Fellow actress and sister Vanessa Marano stars as Bay Kennish on the ABC Family original series Switched at Birth. Both sisters started working in show business when Vanessa was seven years old and Laura was five years old. Their mother, a former actress, did not support the influence of the entertainment industry early on in her daughters’ lives, so she reached out to an agent that would presumably reject them, yet the agent hired both of the remarkable girls.

Marano believes that growing up in show business came with an accelerated upbringing. As she dabbled in normal juvenile activities, such as performing in school plays and playing on a soccer team, the child actress acclimated herself to the adult environment at work. She says her standard childhood mixed with her more serious job on set gave her “a slightly different perspective of the world growing up.”

Maintaining her normal adolescent life presented a struggle when Marano decided to put her education on hold for Austin and Ally, which was renewed for its fourth and final season on Disney Channel earlier this year. The show, which has been on the air since 2011, gave her another family and another chance to showcase her singing and songwriting abilities as she wrote original compositions for the sitcom.

“I knew for a fact that we had one more season of Austin and Ally, and I really wanted to give that all my attention,” Marano said. “It was the first time I did not have to balance both school and my career.”

After dedicating three years to the show, the 2015 Kids Choice Awards Favorite TV Actress winner parted ways with her beloved cast and embarked on her collegiate journey.

“It was very bittersweet. I think the whole cast was definitely excited to move onto other things, but we also knew how much we were going to miss each other,” she said.

According to Marano, her fellow cast members weren’t just coworkers, they were family.

Marano said, “Because of Austin and Ally, I have gained lifelong friends and a second family. Saying goodbye to seeing these people every day was extremely difficult.”

Despite taking a break from the television industry, Marano has plans to pursue songwriting as she is currently making headway in producing her first solo album.

The star, along with her sister and mother, will be touring eight Australian cities this September and October to discuss the “behind the scenes” of show business and to sing snippets of her new music.

Australia is not the only country the singer is planning on visiting for promotional purposes. She recently traveled to Dubai for Dubai Summer Surprises, an annual summer festival where families flock to for bargains and celebrity appearances.

The Ibn Battuta Mall is only one of the many venues she plans to surprise her loyal fans with live concerts.

“I have always loved to write, so getting the opportunity to actually release music is so ridiculously awesome,” she said.

As one of the newest artists under Big Machine Records, which also produces Taylor Swift and Zac Brown Band, Marano has begun her journey to international stardom with tours in various countries, all the while maintaining new duties as a college student.

Marano acknowledged that juggling a budding music career and life as a college student can be difficult.

“It is for sure challenging work, but it is so worth it,”Marano said.