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International Student Services


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Technology and Communications

In the modern world, much of our communication is now electronic. Once you arrive, you will find that technology is one of the most common forms of communication at our University. As a USC student, you will often be asked to participate in certain class assignments online. Whether you need to set your student email, purchase a cell phone, or contribute to an online discussion forum for class, you will be expected to engage with others through technology during your time at USC.

When you first arrive

There are a few things you will definitely need to set up or have access to when you first arrive on-campus. Be prepared to spend a little money for a cell phone or computer if you are not bringing one from home. USC offers free on-campus wireless internet that you can use with your student login information. Make sure you set up your student account before you arrive on-campus for the first time.

Setting up your student account

When you are first admitted to USC, you will be given two student ID numbers: the VIP ID and the USC ID. The VIP ID is 8 digits long, and the USC ID is 9 characters long and begins with a letter.

Once you have this information, you will be able to login and set up your student account. First, you will need to visit Self Service Carolina to set up your VIP ID password. Tutorials for setting up your student account are available through University Technology Services.

If you have trouble setting up your password, you may need to try a different variation of your last name. For example, if your surname name is "Al Jabri," you may want to try another version of it, such as "AlJabri" or "Al-Jabri." If you are still unable to login after trying a different version of your name, contact International Student Services. We will be able to look at your record and see if there are any obvious errors that we can help you fix. If the issue is beyond our ability to provide advice, we will then redirect you to USC's Service Desk.

Once you have logged in successfully to your student account, you will be able to obtain your network username, create your login password, and set up your student email account. A helpful tutorial about doing this is available through the USC Registrar's Office. It is important that you do this before you arrive at USC so that you are already familiar with the database before classes start.

Self Service Carolina will give you access to your student portal information. You will use this site to update your personal information, setup your passwords, and register for courses. However, you will not be able to register for courses until you have attended International Student Orientation and submitted your required immunizations to Student Health Services.

Obtain a Cell Phone

While you are a student at USC, you will most likely need to have a cell phone. Text messaging is one of the most common forms of communication on-campus. Additionally, cell phones are good for emergency situations when you may need to call for help.

If you already have a cell phone that has sim card capabilities, we recommend that you set up an account through Campus Sims. The SIM cards for Campus Sims are available in the ISS office. You can pick one up when you are first arriving on-campus.

Another option would be to go to a cell phone provider in Columbia to have them set up an account for you here in the United States. International Student Services has good relationships with the following providers:

If you already have a cell phone, the providers mentioned above can set up an account on your phone so that you can use your phone in the U.S. Additionally, if you wish to purchase a new phone, these providers also have many options available.

Purchase a Computer

If you do not bring a computer with you from home, you may just want to use one of USC's Thomas Cooper Library Computer Lounges when you first arrive. Though these computers are convenient, most students eventually choose to purchase a computer.

Many students purchase a laptop or tablet computer online through websites such as Amazon or Apple.

Columbia also has many stores which have laptops, tablets, and desktop computers available for purchase. There are many nearby stores, such as Target and Walmart, which offer affordably priced electronics. International Student Services offers weekly shopping trips to Target or Walmart so that you can buy electronics, groceries, clothes, and other living necessities during your time at USC.

If you wish to go to a store which specializes in electronics Best Buy is also a popular choice. If you like to "test drive" a computer or tablet in the store before you purchase it, Best Buy is a good option. They have many experts in the store, too, who can help you find the computer that is right for you.