To Be, or Not to Be, a Trojan
October 10, 2019
As students begin to apply to different occupational therapy programs and the Chan Division’s November 30th deadline creeps up, one of the most common questions I’ve been receiving is, “why did you choose USC?” “Is it worth it?” A former student ambassador wrote a blog that briefly shares her reasons for choosing USC and it also has helpful tips on how to finance. Graduate schools are not cheap and it’s no secret that even among them, USC is on the pricier side. I understand that finance is a huge factor for everyone when making decisions about their future and no one looks forward to the multi-digit loans they’re about to take on. The financial burden was an immense worry for me as well, and it still is. However, there are pros and cons to everything in life. It helps to weigh both sides and look at the bigger picture. So, to answer your question, attending USC has been worth it for me personally and I’ll explain my reasons why. Before I do that though, I’d like to note that everyone’s situation is different, everyone’s values are different, and only you can make the best decision for yourself because ultimately, you’ll thrive most in an environment that you’re whole-heartedly committed to.
- The school itself, the students, and its faculty
There’s a reason that the Chan Division has been ranked as one of the top OT programs in the world repeatedly. There are numerous, cutting edge research projects going on at any given time and graduates of the program go out to be leaders in the world of OT every year. Being in an environment like that, where I’m surrounded by intelligent, motivated, passionate, and dedicated students and faculty, I’m inspired to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone to be the best OT that I could be. The professors that I have met are all so personal and genuine. I can sense that they truly care about my learning and success. Despite the large student body compared to other OT programs, I feel that my individual needs are heard and met and that I am fully supported in my education.
While some people may prefer a small class of 25 students, I appreciate the fact that there are 136 other students going through the program with me at the Chan Division. It has given me the opportunity to meet a variety of people with different passions and styles. Personally, the big class keeps things interesting because each individual brings a new perspective. Each graduating class is also divided into 3 cohorts of about 40-45 for most lectures and in labs, the cohort is further split into 2, so I still get the benefits of a small class like individualized attention from professors and close relationships with classmates as well.
The resources and connections
As you already probably know (because I mentioned it in my first reason), USC Chan’s faculty is pretty amazing. The researchers, educators, and clinicians are all passionate about what they do and they’re respected across California, the nation, and even the world. Now imagine being able to walk into any of their offices and start a casual conversation. All of the faculty have an open door policy, where students can seek for guidance, mentorship, or just a fun conversation. It’s incredibly comforting to merely know that I have access to all faculty with an array of different experiences within and outside of the profession of OT. Furthermore, students have resources outside of the division. Every fieldwork site I’ve been to, there has been at least one USC Chan alumnus working there. As soon as I say that I’m from USC, their eyes light up and I instantly feel a connection as “a fellow Trojan.” They willingly share with me about their career path and any advice they have. Because OTs can work in such a vast range of settings, everyone’s story is unique and insightful. Speaking of fieldwork, USC has connections to over 950 sites nationally and internationally. The possibilities for your professional development is endless!
With all that being said, I can’t stress enough that this is just my own experience. Everyone’s priorities are different and what makes USC worth it for me, may not be important to you. In addition, I have only experienced USC’s OT program, so I can’t compare it to other schools and speak for it. In the end, any school will be what you make of it. Talk to the people around you that know you well and can help you figure out whether what USC has to offer is what you’re looking for in a graduate program. An application process can be a stressful experience and it involves some big decisions, but I’d be happy to be a resource so don’t hesitate to shoot me an email! You can also sign up for one of our info sessions. Just remember, you’re not alone in your concerns. Good luck!
*a little disclaimer in case you were wondering: everything I’ve written is my honest opinion and I was in no way required or encouraged to say positive things about USC 😊