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Life has been a roller coaster over the last few weeks. Between starting school, going back to club meetings, and trying to catch up with all of the friends you hadn’t seen all summer, I bet you are exhausted. I would know – I am too. The first few weeks of school are always a time best spent calibrating to the workload and social calendar that you have to adhere to for the rest of the summer. However, trading out the chill summer mindset for one more conducive to a busy school life can be a challenging task. 


Over the last few weeks, I felt like my life has sped up infinitely compared to the summer days on the beach. While it has been super exciting to be back and experience the start of a new school year, I’ve run out of the initial back-to-school adrenaline rush and am now trying to figure out how to sustain my schedule for an entire semester. Knowing that my experience is not a unique one, I thought I would detail 3 pieces of some “settling-in” advice.

  1. Find a Scheduling System the works for YOU With so much going on all the time at USC, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of events you need to or want to attend. Trying to keep it all in your head is enough to drive anyone crazy. Consequently, it’s important to find a way to keep track of all of your commitments that works for you. The most popular ways to do this involve using a digital planner (such as Google calendar), but I personally like to use a physical notebook… whatever method you use to keep everything straight is awesome as long as it works for you.
  2. Build your schedule based on the hierarchy of commitments
    While the last piece of advice was somewhat basic, this is a piece of advice that has helped me do my planning throughout my life. When I sit down to plan my schedule, the very first thing I do is decide which of the events I want to attend are the most important. During the school year, the bones of my schedule are often class and work – these are the events that I cannot miss, and as such I have to plan the rest of my life around them. By laying this groundwork early, I can take a step back, begin to understand how much free time I may have, and try to plan the rest of my schedule accordingly. Understanding your mandatory obligations first can help relieve the stress of planning later.
  3. Don’t forget to save time to just have funThis is perhaps the most cliché, yet most important bit of my advice. We all have limited time to spend in college, so it’s important to make the most of it. While engineering can certainly be very stressful and time-consuming, the memories you take away from you 4 (ish) years at USC will not be memories of the library. They will be the memories you create by hopping on the Metro bound for Santa Monica on a Friday afternoon, by deciding to a random Open Mic Night at Ground Zero, or by cheering on the football team on a Saturday afternoon. The time you spend making friends and creating crazy memories will never be time wasted. While we all have plenty of work to do, it’s important to enjoy yourself too. You have earned it!
Timothy Harrington