Category Archives: Adult Responsibilities

Emerging Adulthood

By Elizabeth Goodman

Going away to college whether it is close to home, across the country, or across the world presents an exciting and challenging time in any student’s life. For some, including myself, it is their first time living away from home where a newfound sense of independence and responsibility are formed. It’s an exciting, stimulating and fun time, but also one that can be characterized by anxiety, insecurity, and depression, making for a complex stage of life. This marks the beginning of a unique stage that was recently identified in 2000 by psychologist Jeffrey Arnett called, “Emerging Adulthood,” the period between adolescence and young adulthood, respectively (Arnett 2000). Its concepts and features are fascinating and applicable to almost all USC students, as this new stage concerns 18-25 year olds. As emerging adults, it is important to learn about this period in your life to fully understand the steps to becoming an adult in American society.

Emerging adulthood is characterized by five features: self-focus, instability, possibilities/optimism, identity exploration, and feeling in-between (Arnett 2014). Self-focus means this is a time where it is all about you and you have fewer ties and obligations to others. Instability in all facets of life is feeling like you are supposed to have a plan, but also knowing it will be revised many times. Optimism is feeling like anything is still possible at this time. Identity exploration is about asking yourself questions such as “Who am I? What do I want to be? What kind of person am I looking for romantically?” (Arnett 2014). Feeling in-between means not feeling like an adolescent, but also not feeling like an adult just yet (Arnett 2014).

As an aspiring Occupational Therapist, I am intrigued by development. As an emerging adult, I am especially interested in learning about this stage of life. Dr. Kim Morris-Eggleston is teaching her first semester of a two-unit course she created called, “OT 280- Essential Occupations of Emerging Adulthood” under the USC Chan Division of Occupational Therapy. The course is designed to, “Analyze the “emerging adulthood” stage of development in American society through an occupational science lens that includes sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics, and business” (Morris 2017). The course also focuses on themes in occupational therapy such as how to improve the health and wellness of emerging adults.

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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!

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Five Tips for Filing Your Taxes

By Colette Au

Since taxes aren’t due until April 15th, 2018, filing your 2017 fiscal year taxes might seem a long way away, but I’ve already started preparing for it. I’m in charge of USC Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), a student-run club that is part of a nation-wide IRS volunteering program. We provide free tax preparation services to low- and middle-income individuals and families, including international students and residents living in the neighborhood around USC. If you’re like most students, you probably haven’t needed to file your own tax return (or perhaps your parents did it for you). Although I’m not allowed to give tax advice because most advice is very situational, here are a few tips for students doing taxes for the first time:

  1. If you’re working an on-campus job this year, look out for a W-2

Form W-2 is a slip of paper that employers give you that lists your wages and any taxes withheld for the year. You’ll need this information to input on your tax return, so make sure you save it when it comes in the mail (usually in January or February). For students working on campus, you can elect to download a copy from Workday. If you work multiple jobs, you will have multiple W-2s. Note: if you’re self-employed (for example, doing some freelance work on the side), you’re still supposed to report income, even if the transactions are in cash.

  1. Keep track of your educational expenses

Did you know that it’s possible to lower your tax bill by deducting the cost of required textbooks? Make sure you save your receipts from the Bookstore, because you might be able to shave a couple hundred dollars off of your taxes if you owe anything. However, the tuition and fees deduction isn’t available for people that the IRS calls “non-resident aliens” (most international students). There are also education credits for people who are paying tuition out-of-pocket, and USC will send you a form called Form 1098-T so you can report that information on your tax return.

  1. There are different returns for residents and non-residents

If you’re an international student, don’t make the mistake of not checking if you’re a resident or not. Most international students are considered “non-resident aliens” because they are “exempt individuals” (IRS jargon) and have a different set of tax forms. The IRS uses a residency test to determine if you’re a resident for tax purposes, which you can read more about here.

  1. You might not have to file! But you need to check if you do

Generally, if you’re working an on-campus job, you are only required to file if you make more than a few thousand dollars. Even if you don’t need to file, you should consider filing a return in order to get a tax refund. The IRS has an article called Publication 501 about filing requirements here. If your employer deducts more taxes from your paychecks than you owe at the end of the year, you can get your money back!  

  1. Take advantage of USC resources

If you don’t want to put in the time and effort to learn how to do your taxes on your own, save yourself the hassle. If you meet the income limits, you can get your taxes done by free by students! Most students working in the VITA program are accounting majors like me, and some of us actually enjoy learning about the American tax system.

In summary, filing your taxes in the U.S. can be very complicated. There are exceptions to almost every rule so you have to be careful and assess the facts of your own financial situation before you can correctly file your taxes. If you’re feeling lost in the tax system, it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, it’s better that you do because that last thing you want is the IRS coming after you for filing your taxes incorrectly.

Originally from Portland, Oregon, Colette is a junior in the Leventhal School of Accounting and Marshall School of Business. Born to immigrant parents from mainland China and Hong Kong, she is no stranger to bridging lingual and cultural gaps. As her high school offered an international boarding program, she made friends with classmates from all over the world. At USC, Colette participates in several service-oriented clubs on campus, including as president of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and an e-board member of Project 32 Tutoring. Singing, playing piano and guitar, and eating all kinds of foods (especially dessert) are some of her favorite hobbies. In summer 2018, she will be interning in San Jose at Deloitte, a public accounting firm.