Daniel Dorantes remembers feeling a whirlwind of emotions when he started his college career last year.
“It was hectic, for sure,” said Dorantes, a USC Price School sophomore studying real estate development. “A little intimidating, meeting all these new people. But definitely exciting at the same time.”
This month, the USC Price School welcomes 36 incoming freshmen who are likely feeling that mix of emotions as they move into their new homes. To help them get acclimated, we turned to the people who best understand what it’s like to be freshmen: sophomores.
Here is some advice from four USC Price School sophomores on how to make the most of your first year at college, from getting more time with professors to finding the best food on campus.
What I wish I knew: How accessible and helpful academic advisors can be. Just recently, I decided to graduate within three years and drop an extra major. Russ, my advisor, was so helpful and was able to make that happen. It made me realize how much control I have over my future. He was able to help me secure the path that I wanted to take.
A piece of advice: Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Everyone’s nervous. Everyone is in the exact same shoes. And no one really knows anybody coming into college. So don’t be scared to be yourself. That’s how you will meet the best people: by being yourself.
Favorite food on campus: The Fertitta Cafe.
The best place to study: I would say visit VPD [Verna and Peter Dauterive Hall]. It’s very, very modern and just a quiet place to study.
What I wish I knew: Just how available Price professors are to undergraduate freshmen. I was in Professor [Mark] Phillips’ office hours for a while just talking about economics, not even necessarily about a problem set, which is really cool. It was just really interesting to hear about his thoughts on economics and how things work and how it fits into a public policy sense.
A piece of advice: The Career Services Center is great. They do a lot and have resources for students during internship season. You can just pop in and ask any questions, have them look over your cover letter, that sort of thing. That was really useful for me.
Favorite food on campus: The Law School Cafe. They have super good salmon bowls.
The best place to study: I really like LIPA [Library for International & Public Affairs]. It is a really nice, cozy library. There are couches and comfy chairs and it’s just very relaxing.
What I wish I knew: For public policy majors, they offer four different tracks. You can go through the Public Policy and Data Analytics track, the Public Policy and Law track, the Health Policy and Administration track, or the Philanthropy, Nonprofits and Social Innovation track. I think it allows you to study a broad range of areas.
A piece of advice: USC has free events throughout the week. Sometimes they have carnivals, little events where they give you free merch, or fairs like internship fairs and career fairs. I didn’t take advantage of those opportunities, but now I’m more willing to do so because even though you’re just going to a concert you meet so many new people. Some of the people I met at the Welcome Week concert are still my friends to this day.
Favorite food on campus: I really like Seeds. It has very nice food.
The best place to study: Towards the end of last semester, my friends and I started studying in SCA [School of Cinematic Arts]. It’s super pretty and very calm and quiet there.
What I wish I knew: For me, it was most important to just let myself talk to the other people in my class, and not be afraid of people not getting along with me or just being nervous in general. I think talking to people next to you and engaging with your class and your community is the most important, especially at the beginning.
A piece of advice: Just try to stay calm through it. Use your reasoning and common sense and just keep studying and having fun.
Favorite food on campus: I think it’s really valuable that we have Trader Joe’s right nearby. I think my go-to is a frozen meal from there.
The best place to study: I like to study outdoors in the shade. There are some really nice trees all around campus and benches. But I also think you should make your dorm really comfortable. If you prefer to stay and study in your dorm, that’s totally fine. Make it a place where you can be productive.