As USC has mostly transitioned to an in-person learning format, the struggle to adjust from over a year of online and remote learning to in-person is well felt within the student body. One of the hardest adjustments for myself and other students I have talked to is time management. While time management during remote learning was a struggle and adjustment, time management for in-person classes has always been a struggle and an especially big adjustment for freshmen and other first-year students. I’m going to share some tips for time management that I find helpful and hope they either can be of use to you or serve as a source of inspiration to form your own time management habits.
Taking a bit of time to thoroughly plan my days out as much as I can has served me well when it comes to exams, assignments, club and organizational activities, and other deadlines that I have to meet. I usually do this by making to-do lists on my phone notes app and calendar, putting down the time and length for each task (emails, homework, study, etc). I even put planning and random tasks such as grocery shopping and grabbing a coffee, which I find to be super helpful.
While taking the extra bit of time to thoroughly plan out your daily school and extracurricular activities can be extremely beneficial, this will not get you very far if you are unable to stay focused. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about attaining an all-day hours on end laser focus; everyone has different attention spans, so it’s about getting to know your own attention span and things that help keep your focus. For me, I usually like to get my work done in my room or if I do have to be on campus, I usually try to find a quiet place outside or in classroom halls (still hesitant to use the libraries due to COVID). I also find that I usually have to take short breaks in between studying and working. Other things that help my focus include pairing tasks with a particular time of day. For instance, I prefer to study for exams or complete assignments first thing in the morning or late at night. During the afternoon time, I find I am more productive at emails and extracurricular work. I also find that music helps me attain my focus, particularly pop and rock music.
As a transfer student and a spring admit, I understand what it’s like to feel out of place at USC. You can feel a bit like a fish out of water, unsure about SC life and the opportunities available to you. Many students are from the LA area, or elsewhere in California, but some of us have homes that are thousands of miles away. I’m originally from Chicago, so I may not understand homesickness on an international scale, but I still miss home a lot. So here’s what you can do to combat homesickness and adjust to campus.
Besides just studying all the time and going to classes, you have to make time to do something fun that doesn’t involve sitting in your room watching HBO. Go to fun events and see what’s happening on campus. There’s almost always something to do, no matter what day it is. So keep an eye out and go ahead and have fun. You may even make a new friend! I went to Spoiler Alert’s comedy show at Tommy’s Place. Spoiler Alert is one of USC’s improv comedy groups and they perform a hilarious set!
2. Join clubs!
When I first got to USC, I knew exactly what kinds of clubs I wanted to join. Going in with a couple of student organizations that interest you in mind will be helpful so you don’t get too overwhelmed at the Involvement Fair. I usually pick 3: one that is an activity that I know I like and have done before; one that I have always wanted to try, but never got around to starting it; and one that never even crossed my mind, but hey, it might be fun! For me, this was theater, Science Outreach, and boxing!
Whether you end up in overwhelmingly large lectures or in a dorm where everyone seems to be doing different things, finding a community on campus can be challenging. In high school, I was only involved in one club because of my busy schedule and I figured college would be even busier. With this in mind, I wasn’t sure if I would have time to be committed to a club. However, I’m glad I didn’t let this concern stop me. Clubs have heightened my college experience by introducing me to people I would have never met otherwise. Being of mixed race and raised by a mother who didn’t pass on the Japanese language to me, I have felt very disconnected from my ethnic identity.
Joining Nikkei, social and cultural Japanese club, was my first attempt at connecting with my lost culture. “Nikkei” means Japanese emigrants and their descendants; and the name is appropriate, as I have met many great people with varying degrees of connection to the Japanese culture. In addition, I joined Mixed SC which is a club for people of mixed race. It was so refreshing to see a room full of people that somewhat looked like me. One topic of discussion was which race we identify with more, if it is equal, or if we feel like either. I usually don’t have these types of conversations so I was excited to find a space where I could. Unfortunately, not every ethnicity is represented in the clubs available on campus. I have friends who are in this boat and it can feel isolating. On the upside, every club, including those of a specific ethnicity welcome students of any background with open arms. For instance, I have been going to a Filipino club with my friends, one of whom is Filipino, this spring semester. The first time I went, I had this feeling that I shouldn’t be there. However, by the end of the meeting, I realized how approachable and accepting everyone was. No matter what, people are just happy that you want to be there.
It is also valuable to not shy away from clubs you wouldn’t join at first glance. One day I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw a post for free boba at a club meeting. To be honest, I did not notice what the club was and was only motivated by the boba to attend. This club turned out to be IVTCF or Intervarsity Trojan Christian Fellowship. My family, myself included, has never been religious and I have in the past labelled myself as atheist and then agnostic. By the end of the meeting, I found that I had never met more friendly people who were accepting of the fact that I wasn’t religious. I am still a part of the club to this day.