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So far, I’ve spent more time on campus as an eager sophomore, a stressed junior and an accepted senior, than I have as someone who has just completed their freshman year, but I truly would have it no other way.

Surprising? Probably. But honestly? Absolutely.

I was lucky to have visited the schools that I was interested in before the world shut down, and this meant flying across the country in January towards better weather and other prospective students. At ExploreUSC, I met with faculty and other current Trojans who tried their best to paint a picture of the college experience and wow us all the way to Los Angeles. Long story short, it worked.

Fast forward a few months of anticipation, and we never get the go-ahead to come together on campus. Naturally I was disappointed, but I trusted that I would still enjoy my first semester. Through what turned into two semesters from home, I’ve gathered a few takeaways regarding USC from Mount Laurel, NJ, something I wish was different, that I loved and that I look forward to.


  1. Zoom Lectures

There is no perfect substitute for in-person learning. Us students, teachers and parents have seen this throughout the past year, but live conference call classes are the closest that we can get. I wish that I could be there to meet the incredible people I’ve virtually sat next to, but that will have to wait. However dull it may seem, Zoom classes were not really that bad. They allowed for the few minutes before and after class socializing with your classmates and professors, there was ample opportunity to ask questions when something didn’t click, and lectures were still engaging and informative.


A screenshot of a NSBE zoom meeting

  1. My Trojan Family

One of the first things that alumni will tell you is how strong and connected the Trojan Family is while you are on campus, and for the rest of your life as an alum. Even online I’ve immediately felt the welcoming atmosphere that everyone works so hard to foster and perpetuate. During my first semester I joined two student organizations, BSA and NSBE, and strengthened my ties to my Trojan family. With both of these clubs I looked forward to the next day we would meet each week as soon as that week’s meeting was done. I felt the support of upperclassmen especially who put aside the fact that they were missing out on their final years, to ensure that us freshmen still had the best beginning possible.

  1. College Food

While food is one of the most complained about things on nearly every campus, I still am looking forward to eating on campus. Some of my favorite memories through school have come in the middle of a noisy cafeteria, taking a break from classes and laughing while forgetting that my sandwich isn’t a filet mignon. I have enjoyed being able to sit through Calculus eating breakfast, but nothing compares to the experience that is socializing with people from Annenberg to Kauffman to Viterbi and all in between. Clearly this social aspect can be replicated outside of a dining space, but I truly am heavily anticipating those McCarthy crepes.

My freshman year was not what anyone imagined it would be, but it was just as pleasantly unforgettable as I knew that my first semesters would be. Right now I’m at the airport soon to depart to LA, where I’ll be meeting even more extraordinary people, enjoying my meals and cheering alongside my classmates physically instead of like Flat Stanley.

Timothy Harrington