There is so much our school has to offer, especially for newcomers. To help you start off on the right foot, here are 20 tips for freshmen at Penn State.
1. Take a chance to explore campus (and don’t be afraid to get lost).
The best way to get to know a place is to get lost in it. Plus, there are plenty of staff and students around that are more than willing to help anyone find their way. Take advantage of the campus maps located all around University Park’s campus.
2. Go to Rally in The Valley.
This is a great start for freshmen at Penn State. We are not just known for our academics, but also our sports program and our insane school spirit. Rally in The Valley is there for incoming students to get to know the school’s fight songs and chants, and meet some of Penn State’s spirit squads, such as the PSU Cheerleaders and the PSU Lionettes Dance Team.
3. Take full advantage of the healthy lifestyle Penn State provides.
If you are health nut like I am, there are plenty of ways to keep up the healthful habits. There are three gyms on campus – White, IM and Rec Hall – that your gym membership gives you full access to. There are free yoga classes in the UHS building, and club sports and health clubs, such as Charrg, powerlifting, and dance.
4. Use the dining halls, meal points, and buffet style to your advantage.
I highly recommend going to any of the five dining halls provided on campus at least once a day. There are so many options to choose from for such a small price. There’s an Italian selection, a salad bar, fruit bar, dessert, array of drinks and a grill.
5. Get season tickets for a sports team.
There are so many season tickets for football, basketball, and hockey. I recommend getting season tickets to at least one sport. Why? This is one way you can get the family experience and school spirit Penn State provides. The feeling is indescribable.
6. Study and work hard.
There are a lot of resources for freshmen at Penn State, such as Boucke Building tutoring, your class TAs, and professors. Study in groups, study in the library, or study by yourself. Just study and get your work done, because procrastination is not key (at least not in college, and definitely not at Penn State). As freshmen at Penn State, you can start early and it will pay off.
7. Get out and do things.
There are so many opportunities to get downtown and off campus to explore the college town. There is also the CATA bus that takes you to Mount Nittany to hike, and surrounding towns to visit. No one said we had to stay on campus for an adventure.
8. Be cautious when buying books.
You do not have to order books at the bookstore on campus; that just gets too pricey. Take a trip downtown to The Student Bookstore, or shop online for some of your books at Amazon or Chegg. This will save a ton of money.
9. Invest in yourself.
This is a very important one. College is the time for you to become who you are meant to be. It’s okay to make mistakes, as long as we learn from them. This is the time to be selfish and focus on you and what you want from yourself and life. Take advantage of it. You will not be the same person the day you graduate from Penn State. You will be much better.
10. Study abroad somewhere you have always wanted to go.
Do you have a favorite foreign country like Italy, Spain, or Ireland that you have always wanted to go to? This is your chance to go, so go! Penn State provides us students with many opportunities to travel abroad, either for credit or internships. This will be one of your MANY favorite memories from Penn State.
11. Get involved.
There are so many clubs and activities here for freshmen at Penn State, from frats and sororities to academic and hobby clubs. Go out and try something new. Luckily for us, there is an involvement fair held in the Hub during one of the first few weeks of school. Getting involved gives you lifelong friends, makes a big campus small, and looks great on resumes.
12. Take interesting General Education classes.
Since we are paying for our education, we might as well take interesting and lively gen eds. Some courses to check out are PSYCH, WMNST, KINES, CMLIT, and PHIL. Go into the most dreaded LionPATH and look through some of these courses. You are bound to find one you will want to take.
13. Talk with your advisor.
They have the answer to everything. They are like magic genies. I suggest going at least twice a semester to keep up with your course load and to know you are on the right track. They can even help with internships and study abroad programs. Your advisor is your starting point for anything major or school related. Use them.
14. Be open minded.
This is just as important as investing in yourself. Being closed off as freshmen at Penn State will destruct what you are working towards. Open minds are the key to success, especially at such a large school with so much diversity and variety in the campus and culture. Be mindful and respectful of everyone you meet.
15. Explore minors to add to your major.
This helps differentiate you from another when applying for jobs. What do you have experience in besides your major? What are you passionate about besides what you are majoring in? It’s an incredible learning experience.
16. Call your loved ones.
Family is number one, and when you are away at school you WILL miss them, even if you do not want to admit it. After a phone call with your mom, dad, grandma or grandpa, you will feel so much better, especially when you are stressing about an upcoming exam. Ask your parents to send daily photos of your pets too! It helps to get through the tough times.
17. It’s okay to change your major more than once, twice, or even three times.
IT IS OKAY! You are only 18 or 19 years old; you will find things you like more or less, and that will change what you want to do with your life. I changed my major twice and am a lot happier with my choice to change than I would have been if I did not change. Explore other majors, do what you love, and be happy – no regrets!
18. Take a lot of pictures and annoy your friends back home who hate Penn State.
You are going to have the best years of your life here, and that means memories and lots of friends. So, take photos and post them. Document your time at PSU. You will not regret it. Take photos of things that are what make Penn State what it is. This is my school and I love it with all that I am! Appreciate the fact that you get to go to school here; it’s not easy and you will get to experience so much more than some colleges. Be grateful and love every second of it.
19. Whatever you do, get involved with THON (or at least go to THON).
THON, of course, is not for everyone; and whether you decide to do THON or not, you are still a Penn State student and still carry the pride and strength with you. But, I can say THON has changed the lives of not just the kids, but the students as well. It’s a great cause and is the largest run student philanthropy in the world, helping raise money and awareness for the fight against childhood cancer. The final four hours are something you cannot miss; this is the time where all the tears start flowing. It shows what all of our hard work is going towards and who we are helping. It is incredible. There are plenty of ways to get involved through committees, THON orgs, Greek life, 46 LIVE, clubs, and many more. So, please consider this amazing opportunity.
20. Make a bucket list.
There are so many things you can do here at Penn State, so why not make a bucket list? It’s not just any old bucket list; it’s a Penn State bucket list! What are some things you want to see, do, or experience? Here is your chance to do them! Get a photo with the Nittany Lion, go to a wrestling match, get Berkey Creamery ice cream, try a Canyon Pizza, or get an apartment with your closest friends. The sky’s the limit for freshmen at Penn State!