As Los Angeles County gradually recovers from the pandemic, USC announced that it plans to bring students back to campus during the fall semester of 2021. This will be a significant semester, as most returning students have not walked on campus for over a year. Even more important, USC will have two undergraduate classes that have neither been on campus nor experienced actual college life.
While the administration is on track to provide a series of welcome experiences to the incoming freshmen, it should also consider organizing special events and providing guidance to rising sophomores to begin their on-campus life smoothly.
Since the Class of 2024 has been taking online classes remotely for a year, it will be challenging for them to step foot on campus and experience everything in person. They have already lost a year’s opportunity to form friendships, deepen their bonds with classmates and professors and navigate campus. They have also missed the series of fun and exciting activities the University usually organizes for new students.
In previous years, new students participated in a wide range of activities when they arrived on campus in August. They first attended a special convocation, where they wore black robes and got inducted into their schools. After that, a series of events took place throughout seven days.
The RecFest features recreational sports and has a combination of competition, cheerleading, live entertainments and giveaways on Brittingham Field. There are also roller skating nights, group trips to Santa Barbara and the Trojan Splash Bash at the Lyon Center, a special pool party for students to dance, swim and have fun.
Throughout their first school year, freshmen will live in residential colleges on campus and participate in events to win the Residential College Cup. All of these activities are ingrained with USC spirit. While some of these activities were moved online due to the pandemic, the in-person experience was unable to be replicated.
After resuming normal campus life, rising sophomores may need time to explore and get used to all corners of campus and USC Village. They will find a college lifestyle that is different from that of “Zoom University.” They may spend more time socializing and begin to worry about dorm issues, homesickness and time management.
The administration should consider hosting special orientations, bonding events and contests for the Class of 2024 to help them become immersed in the University environment. Even though some of the events may have limited capacity due to health reasons, the class of 2024 should be able to receive guidance and assistance through attending these events. This will make them feel more closely connected with the University and foster a deep love for the cardinal and gold.
Many students within the Class of 2024 had an abridged senior year in high school and still know little of USC’s campus even as they finish their freshman year in college. Providing them extra help by organizing special events and activities will enable rising sophomores to have a better on-campus experience and less bewilderment in this coming fall semester. This will also help the students to see their next three years at USC as living at “a home away from home.”