10 Things I Learned in my First Semester at USC

By Esther Cha

Whether you’re here at USC as a freshman or Graduate student, your first year on campus is a time for exponential growth. In my first semester here, I learned a lot in my classes, but the real learning (about life and being on my own) came from outside the classroom. Here are some things I learned in my first semester that I know will help me survive college. Perhaps they can help you too!

  1. Don’t be afraid to say hi

Remember that everyone is in the same boat as you. College can be nerve wracking but a smile and a hello can go a long way. Who knows? The random stranger you say hi to in math class could potentially become your new best friend.

  1. Don’t buy your textbooks full price

Textbooks costs ADD UP. Be smart with textbooks and wait till the first week of classes to make sure you actually need to buy them. (Sometimes professors do not require them even though they are listed in the syllabus). Amazon and Chegg.com offer textbooks at significantly lower prices for rent and will save you a ton of money. Another option is to see if the libraries have the textbooks or required books you need and if they do you can borrow them for an entire semester at no cost!

  1. Be active and take advantage of your gym membership

Don’t forget to take care of your physical health by staying active! Not only will the endorphins make you feel better you will feel healthier and cleaner. Your tuition pays for a gym membership so take advantage of the great gyms we have on campus. The new village gym has great equipment and classes that you don’t wanna miss out on!

  1. Go to more events on campus

Join all of the facebook groups like your class page, USG, USC Events page to keep up to date with all of the exciting and cool events on campus! There are always so many cool speakers and guests on campus that you can meet if you take the initiative. Last semester I got to hear Danny Trejo speak and even see Brittany Snow (from Pitch Perfect) at Bovard for an Acapella concert.

  1. Be aware of the Freshman 15

Two Words: Unlimited Swipes. As a freshman with an unlimited meal plan, it can be very tempting to eat ice cream for dessert after every meal and indulge in the famous EVK chicken tenders. Make sure to keep a balance and eat vegetables and fuel your body with nutritious foods. You are what you eat after all.

  1. Google Calendar is your new best friend

College can get very hectic with so many events, classes, and appointments. Google Calendar helps to keep you organized and sane. Having a planner or calendar in college helps keep you organized and on top of your assignments and meetings. Don’t let that midterm or paper creep up on you; use Google Calendar to plan ahead!

  1. Go to office hours

USC has some of the most renowned professors in the nation and they are YOUR professors. Really try to get to know them, even though it can be intimidating. They are there to help you and actually want to get to know you as well. Talking to my professors one on one helped me have a deeper understanding of course material and get advice from seasoned professionals.

  1. It’s okay to get a B

College is hard; that is a fact. It’s great to aim high but don’t be discouraged if you get a B. Your grades in college will not be like the grades you got in high school and that is okay. College is a time to grow and learn and not a time to be defined by a letter grade. Just do your best; that is all that matters.

  1. Call your parents often

Your parents are your biggest fans so don’t forget to call them often. There were so many days when I felt so alone and stressed in college and talking to my parents made me feel instantly better. Update them on your life and ask how they are doing as well. They probably miss you a ton and want to stay updated with your new college life.

  1. Your mental health comes first

Treat yo self. Don’t be afraid to stay in some nights and just take care of yourself. All nighters are not a good idea and you should try to get good rest every night. College can get overwhelming so it is extra important to make time to spend by yourself and focus on your health!

I am so excited to learn and grow even more in the next few years I have left at USC. Overall, my first semester of college was a time of growth and new experiences that I am very grateful for. Fight on!

Esther is a sophomore in the Marshall School of Business majoring in Business Administration. She is originally from Dallas, Texas and is very grateful to be studying in sunny California. She was born in Seoul, South Korea but moved to the US when she was three years old and understands the difficulties of adjusting to American culture. Esther loves traveling and recently went to Thailand and Vietnam as an English teacher for the summer. She has also worked at Gideon Reading and Math as a tutor for young students. She has a true passion for education development and hopes to work in education administration in the future. On campus she is involved in choir and sings in the Thornton School of Music’s Concert Choir. Esther loves singing and music with all her heart.