FRESHMAN AT: University of Southern California,
Los Angeles, California
INTENDED MAJOR: Neuroscience
Why do you want to study in the U.S.?
I applied to schools in the U.S. because I believed they would allow me to have a more “interdisciplinary” educational experience — taking classes in a wide variety of fields as opposed to only in the field of my major — than schools in Canada would. It’s also always been a dream of mine to live in California.
How many universities did you apply to? What was the most difficult part of the U.S. application process?
I applied to 10 schools in total, seven of which are in the US. The most difficult part of the application process was studying for and executing the SATs.
Did you visit the USC campus before you applied?
I visited in April, after I knew I had been accepted.
How did you know USC was the right school for you?
After I toured the campus, I tried to be rational and made a “pros and cons” list to figure out which school I should go to. Even though USC had more cons than the other two schools on my list, I felt like it was the place for me and I couldn’t ignore that feeling. Being on the campus made me happy, and I could picture myself thriving at the school. It wasn’t a decision based on rationality, because all the schools I was choosing between had a lot to offer. It was an intuitive feeling that USC is the place where I am meant to be.
How did you choose your roommate?
My roommate is from Toronto, and we met through the Facebook group for admitted students. We started talking online and realized that we have a lot in common, so we decided to request each other as roommates.
Which extracurricular activities are you hoping to get involved with on campus – or off?
I am currently involved in an online publication for freshman students written by freshman students. I’m also planning on joining the cycling team as well as the Hillel. I’d like to do community service as well, and at some point in my four years I would love to participate in a research project with a professor.
What’s something you’re bringing with you to remind you of home?
A Canadian flag!
How often do you plan to go back to Canada?
I’ll probably come home once or twice a year during Christmas break and in the summer.
What’s the one thing about studying at USC you’re most excited about?
I’m excited to take classes that are outside my realm of knowledge and comfort and to learn about new things from classes that I never could have even imagined. For example, one of my first-semester classes is called Exploring Ethnicity Through Film.
Anything you’re nervous about?
I’m nervous about the rape culture on college campuses. The fact is that sexual assault is a disturbingly common thing at universities all over North America, but especially at large schools like USC, where Greek life is at the forefront of social life. This makes me very nervous, as well as frustrated and angry.
What are three tips you’d give to Canadian students who are thinking about studying in the U.S.?
- Don’t rule out Canadian schools as an option just because of the way that American schools are glorified. Canada has a lot to offer in terms of education, and the application process is much easier. That being said, if you have good reason to want to study in the U.S., you can keep that reason in mind as you go through the application process. Remembering why you want to do this will make it a lot easier.
- Try not to take the application process too seriously. This is not to say that you shouldn’t put in as much effort as you can, because you should. But once you have tried your best, there’s nothing more you can do, and wherever you end up, you can make the best of your four years regardless of whether it was your first choice school or your seventh.
- Use the resources that you have available to you. Ask you friends, parents, teachers and peers to read and revise your essays. Use online sources to help you study for standardized testing. Ask people that you know who attend different universities about their experiences at their schools so that you can make an informed decision. There are so many places that you can and should reach out to for help. This doesn’t have to be a decision or a process that you go through all alone.
By KENDALL GAYNES