Student Perspectives: USC's Vibrant Campus Life (2024)

If there’s any tagline you’re going to hear at a USC prospective student event/seminar/etc. (among many other things), it will be some form of this: “USC offers all of the benefits of a massive D1 research and artistic University with the small, personal feel of a liberal arts college.” At this point in my life, I have completed almost all four of my years at USC, and I can’t help but reflect and conclude that, while vague, the statement does hold up in a special, personal way for each individual student.

WHAT YOU’D EXPECT

It’s a simple Google search: “What are the clubs, organizations, and activities like at USC?” (or a much shorter, simple one… but I digress).

The facts: [1] USC has hundreds and hundreds of clubs and organizations where students can pursue a number of interests, from professional to academic to social. [2] There are a number of Student Equity and Inclusion Programs—also known as Cultural Centers—for students of shared identities. [3] USC hosts a ton of events throughout each semester, whether through concerts, our farmers’ market, or Visions and Voices (more on that later). [4] And nothing is quite like the community of game days and club/intramural sports. It’s a lot. It can be overwhelming. But take it step by step, find what you like and what you don’t, and keep moving forward.

MY EXPERIENCE

When I came into USC as a freshman, it was the middle of the quarantine Zoom year, meaning that I had no in person classes or chances to meet new people in this out-of-state school where I knew nobody. We did, however, have a Zoom Involvement Fair—an awkward concept for someone with social anxiety to have to click each individual club Zoom room link where one person from the club was scrolling on their phone until you cleared your throat to ask questions. I still “joined” 10 clubs. I still dropped 9 clubs by the end of the next two weeks. There are about 21,000 undergraduate students at USC and, really, what that means is if you ever have a falling out with a friend group or realize a club/group isn’t for you, you still have 20,960 other people to go meet.

Student Perspectives: USC's Vibrant Campus Life (1)

The one single group I’ve stuck with since Freshman year has been the sketch comedy troupe (think Saturday Night Live) “The Suspenders,” an ISP (Independent Student Production company run entirely by students). This is absolutely my second family and has been such an anchor in my life with amazing people. One of the funniest people I’ve ever met is an Astronautical Engineering student named Phineas, and I would have never met him without this group. By having this anchor, I’ve felt more confident checking out SEIPs like La CASA for Latine, Chicane, and Hispanic students, as well as the LGBTQ+ Student Center with some of the friends that I’ve made.

My socially-anxious self was excited to go to massive events like Conquest rivalry week concerts, with headliners like Dominic Fike. I attended a number of Visions and Voices events with speakers such as actor Mark Hamill, jazz artist Laufey, activist Angela Davis, and more. I despise American football. Yet, I have purchased a season ticket every single year I’ve been here. Gosh, the atmosphere of a game day is just so electric, with students, alumni, faculty, staff, and members of the local community gathering in support of not just our team, but each other. I never knew a game day could be anything like that, or that I could be so loudly cheering decked OUT in USC gear. You can find your people, even if it takes a bit of a leap of faith sometimes.

Student Perspectives: USC's Vibrant Campus Life (2)

And aside from myself, I have so many friends who found community in Greek Life (whether social or professional), music groups, that one engineering club where they build Formula 1 race cars, Undergraduate Student Government, club and intramural sports (shout out fencers!), business and networking organizations, the Dungeons & Dragons club, MMA groups, or just by hanging out in the grass on campus with friends.

LAST WORDS

Now, I’m also a USC Student Ambassador, and at the end of all my tours I like to give one token of advice overall; I like to live my life by the famous words of my hero Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus. “Take chances! Make mistakes! And get messy!” By trying to embrace this as much as possible, I have made some of the worst mistakes of my life—on the same level as those 6th Grade memories that haunt you to this day. Yet, I’ve also made the greatest decisions, met the best people, created plenty of memories that will last a lifetime… all of it. It is so much better to take a chance and fall flat on your face than it is to live the rest of your life wondering what could have been. That’s enough from me, though, because your life is yours to live, and your choices are yours to choose. Just remember to, wherever you end up, Fight On.

Written by: Xavier Valdez, Class of 2024

Student Perspectives: USC's Vibrant Campus Life (2024)

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