A Sense of Purpose

One of the greatest challenges for every human is to find meaning and purpose in our lives, and it is important to today’s students. “This generation is among the first to want to connect the personal and professional—to find meaning and purpose in their careers, not just in their personal lives, said Varun Soni, PhD, JD, director of the Office of Religious Life.

Soni aims to help students live an authentic life, whatever that means for each individual. “Students want their career to be aligned with their personal aspirations and dreams, but we all struggle with how to do that. It’s something I challenge students to think about,” he said, with ORL programs such as “What Matters To Me and Why.” “That process of asking those big questions should start in college,” Soni said.

The Office of Religious Life (ORL) also provides a portal to students seeking religious spiritual community. With over 50 chaplains available at USC, students can find spiritual support or guidance in any imaginable faith tradition. “We see student religious groups as a way for students to feel connected and fulfilled,” said ORL dean Varun Soni.

Visit ORL in URC 106 (University Park Campus) and McKibben Hall 160 (Health Sciences Campus).

A great way to build toward that authentic life is to start using the services at the Career Center early, rather than waiting until you might be ready to find an internship. The Career Center can help with developing skills like interviewing and resume writing, but the staff also helps students to assess their interests and skills, and how they might make the best choices along the way for the career of their dreams—to connect with that sense of purpose.

Visit the USC Career Center in STU 110 or make an appointment at (213) 740-9111.

Another way to set yourself up for academic success is to visit the Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity (KCLC). In addition to providing support for students with learning differences like dyslexia, the KCLC holds a treasure trove of resources available to all students, from one-on-one academic coaches to workshops aimed at building skills like note-taking and avoiding procrastination.

Visit the Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity in STU 311.

Students with disabilities can find support for their academic and personal success and independence in Disability Services and Programs, located in GFS 102.

Making and keeping social connections and building relationships can protect us from some of the worst effects of stress. And at USC there are literally hundreds of opportunities to connect with your fellow students. Over 800 student organizations ranging from Adventure Gurus to Zion Fellowship are available for students to connect with their peers. Some are based on recreation or religion, while members of other groups might share political or professional interests. There are even more opportunities to get involved beyond student organizations, such as participating in the cultural centers, student government or media, or joining an intramural sports team.

One of the most rewarding and effective ways to find purpose and community is to volunteer. The Center for Service Programs offers many opportunities, including its Alternative Break program, in which students travel on spring or winter break to volunteer abroad or domestically, focusing on important problems like poverty and health care reform.

Visit the Office of Campus Activities and Center for Service Programs in SKS 410 for ways to get involved and volunteer.

Self Discovery

Congratulations – you are a college student! But now there’s much more to experience than creating a class schedule and making plans for Thursday night. This is your opportunity to explore what inspires you, drives you, and gives you personal satisfaction and a sense of achievement. Not to mention finding a community that shares your interests. Set aside some time to:

  • Explore subjects: take a class outside your major, just out of curiosity. You may discover a passion for the oboe, or a knack for number theory you never knew you had.
  • Learn the home court advantage: Los Angeles has a scene or meetup for pretty much every interest, ranging from sand volleyball to opera, both on campus and off. Get to see our city, not just as a tourist, but as a participant. Volunteering at nonprofits or civic organizations is a great way to become a part of the fabric of the city.
  • Just show up: You don’t need to make a reservation, know someone who knows someone, or slip a ten to a bouncer. Student organizations host events all over campus, and yes, you’re absolutely welcome to attend.
  • Remember: wellness is about finding the value in the complexity of living.