Student Life

A Fall Semester at USC Like No Other

USC starts the 2020-21 school year with a renewed commitment to learning, student life and well-being as the world grapples with a pandemic.

September 29, 2020 Elisa Huang

It’s far from the start of college life that any of USC’s first-year students could’ve imagined, but 2020 will still be a year they’ll never forget.

we are SC logo

To support public health efforts, most students are learning at home instead of in the classroom. USC educators designed more than 8,000 courses to be delivered online. Student spirit groups and clubs reimagined activities. Networking events traded the usual warm handshakes at receptions for warm smiles on computer screens.

Through it all, USC is rallying together with a spirit the university calls “We are SC.” Here are just a few of the ways We are SC in an age of outdoor-only dining, face coverings and social distancing.

Sook-Lei Liew
Sook-Lei Liew teaches occupational science and occupational therapy remotely. (Photo/Courtesy of Sook-Lei Liew)

Let’s Talk Tech

Major technology investments across the university ensure students have access to Wi-Fi hotspots and laptops. Many classrooms got audiovisual upgrades so professors can offer high-quality lessons remotely. Hundreds of in-demand classes have been adapted for student participation across time zones.

Research Ramp Up

Scientists at the Molecular Pathology Laboratory at Keck Medicine of USC
Scientists at the Molecular Pathology Laboratory at Keck Medicine of USC analyzing COVID-19 test samples. (USC Photo/Ricardo Carrasco III)

From discoveries in biomedicine to innovations in engineering, researchers continue their work ?in USC labs. Rigorous rules — ?a 30% occupancy capacity limit, ?daily deep cleanings and worker health screenings, to name a few — ensure safety as essential research progresses.


Incoming first-year and transfer students were welcomed to the Trojan Family with a full schedule of special programs, starting with an online convocation celebration for new students. USC’s Welcome Experience events included virtual meetups with faculty, scavenger hunts, and karaoke and craft nights. Another major highlight: a Trojan spirit rally with Traveler, Song Girls and the band.

United We Stop COVID

USC Student Health Safety Campaign
USC Student Health safety campaign

Posters, ads and banners of students and faculty sporting “Fight On” face masks remind everyone in the community that we’re in this together. Designed as part of USC Student Health’s safety campaign, the messages reinforce the three most important behaviors: wash your hands, wear a mask and stand apart.

Top Teaching

Thousands of professors signed up for the USC Center for Excellence in Teaching’s intensive training sessions that helped them reimagine their courses for an online world. Science educators have assigned virtual labs and mailed kits for students to run science experiments at home. Other professors created their own animated videos and brought in sought-after speakers to talk with students.

Experience USC Online

USC Visions & Voices - The Arts and Humanities Initiative
(Image/Courtesy of Visions & Voices)

Visions & Voices, the university’s signature arts and culture series, is just one of the ways students can get the most out of their time at USC. Now they can learn about Visions & Voices events and more through Experience USC, an online hub for students launched this fall. With information on student clubs, networking events, recreational games and concerts, the portal keeps students connected to USC and to one another.