For the high school overachiever who juggled five or six extracurriculars along with multiple AP and IB classes, coming to college can be a bit of an adjustment.
Hectic class schedules don’t always allow room for active membership in many organizations, and a difficult college course can leave students feeling depleted and unable to garner enthusiasm for anything outside of weekend partying.
But even for those who won’t be struggling with a demanding schedule, finding a niche in USC’s large but diverse community can take some time. Selecting a degree from 20 schools and more than 120 majors and minors in the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences alone already provides enough of a challenge, but with 750 student organizations thrown into the mix, the possibilities for involvement can be a bit daunting.
So here’s a guide to make the transition a little easier and help you plan your first semester at ’SC.
Whether you’re a wannabe Matt Barkley or just looking to get fit, USC athletics has a team to cater to your interests. In addition to possessing a variety of unique sports organizations like the Trojan Judo Club and USC Fencing, USC also has the ever-popular intramural sports leagues.
In addition to hosting a variety of sports such as Ultimate Frisbee, golf, volleyball and tennis, USC athletics further divides its intramural teams into separate leagues, including all-university, coed, womens and fraternity and sorority. The signup for intramural teams usually takes place at the beginning of every semester at the Lyon Center or on its website.
Another option for getting involved athletically is joining one of ’SC’s niche organizations. Harry Potter fans should take advantage of the Quidditch team, and beach-lovers eager to get off campus can sign up for the USC Surf Club or the SCuba Club.
With over 150 different athletic organizations, USC has plenty to offer students eager to stay in shape.
Though the Daily Trojan, Neon Tommy and El Rodeo might immediately come to mind for students interested in creating stories and designing layout, USC has other organizations that involve chronicling and documenting college life.
POSE, USC’s student-run fashion magazine, offers writers, photographers and designers a chance to generate online and print content involving global style and trends in fashion, music and the arts with an on-campus twist. Described as “USC’s antidote to Fashion Fever,” POSE is published twice a semester and provides a hip and modern way to explore the college literary scene.
For those looking for a more intellectual outlet, SCribe, run by the Dornsife College, blends academia with the literary world and allows writers to submit politically and socially driven articles. Though most of the online magazine’s content comes from papers carefully crafted in Writing 340, students are welcome to submit their own high-quality creative and nonfiction pieces for evaluation and publication by a team of student editors.
If you’re interested in covering community news stories in South Central, check out the online publication Intersections South LA. With a variety of journalistic mediums like video, photography and opinion-based articles, Intersections provides a variety of ways to explore the art of reporting.
Even if you don’t have time to add vocal performance as a second major or pick up a minor in jazz studies, the Thornton School of Music is home to a variety of performance groups that meet a couple of times a week for jam sessions and concert rehearsals.
Singers should take a look at one of many a cappella groups, such as the award-winning SoCal Vocals, or opt to join a chorus like the University or Concert choirs. Instrumentalists can choose from several jazz ensembles or chamber orchestras, or can take private lessons with a university instructor. Most of the groups hold auditions during the first few weeks of every semester and hold multiple concerts throughout the academic year.
But the opportunities for involvement don’t just end with the many on-campus ensembles.
Many of the School of Dramatic Arts musical performances require orchestral talent, so paying attention to the call board and auditioning for a specific show is a great way to showcase your instrumental chops while underscoring some of USC’s stellar onstage talent.
Either way, there’s no reason for that instrument you lugged all the way to college to sit untouched in the corner of your dorm room.
community service fanatics
Though many sororities and fraternities organize their own volunteer events, USC has a few programs and organizations whose sole purpose is community service.
Taking an alternative winter or spring break trip is a great way to get involved in a global project without having to worry about a class schedule. In previous years, alternative break programs have focused on children’s issues, poverty and women’s empowerment in countries like Thailand, Guatemala and Honduras. If you’re not too eager to head home for the holidays, keep an eye posted on the Volunteer Center’s webpage to find out information on trips for this school year.
For those lacking wanderlust, the USC Helenes and Trojan Knights, “the official hostesses and hosts of USC,” provide volunteer opportunities for service on and off campus. As the two of the oldest service organizations on campus, the Helenes and Trojan Knights have worked with disabled youth in Los Angeles, assisted with Relay For Life and Swim With Mike and hosted President Barack Obama when he came to give a rally speech in 2011. Though the both have rigid eligibility requirements that may involve careful attention, they represent a diverse population of students all united by a common interest in community service.