Life at college is everything the movies make it out to be – you make some amazing friends, have a lot of fun on the weekends, and still find the time to do well in class. Here are some things that will make your freshman year at Penn State everything it’s made out to be.
1. Get involved!
Although it sounds cliche, getting involved is the key to making your freshman year be amazing. The involvement fair is always during welcome week at the HUB, with everything from university-sponsored clubs to Greek Life and everything in-between represented. The clubs and organizations all WANT freshman to get involved, so don’t be intimidated! You never know who you’ll meet in the orientation meeting for a club you signed up for, give it a go!
2. Going off that, don’t be afraid to try new things.
Even though you may have been all about sports in high school, it doesn’t mean you have to stick to club and intramural sports in college. Try things out of your comfort zone, it may surprise you what you end up loving. There’s a club for everything here so the possibilities are endless.
3. Get season tickets to the football games.
Football is a way of life here in Happy Valley, and your freshman year at Penn State will improve so much by going to the games. Not only is it awesome to be at such a huge event, but it’s also a bonding event. You’re surrounded by fellow students, all who are cheering for the same thing as you, and what grade you’re in doesn’t matter. All that matters is you’re spirited, happy, and ready to cheer on the one and only Nittany Lions. Make sure you have a couple white t-shirts for the last-minute white out games!
4. Make sure you eat at every dining hall.
Although it seems far in the future, when you move off campus you’re going to miss how readily available all the food was on campus. That being said, there’s so many different options to choose from that you have to give them all a shot. From the brand-new East Food District to the infamous West cookies, you’ll miss out if you don’t make a lunch trip with your friends to all the dining commons here on campus (that includes the HUB, too!).
5. Yes, take class seriously.
Since there’s so many different extracurricular activities on and off campus, you may want to put that as your number one priority going into your first semester. Don’t do this! As important as getting involved and making friends is, class is more important. Your GPA counts from the very first semester, so give it your best effort. So make sure you go to class your freshman year at Penn State! Once finals come around, you’ll be glad you did.
6. Embrace dorm living.
College is the only time in your life when you’re going to live surrounded only by people your age. Especially if you end up in the one and only East Halls, embrace the fact that you’re surrounded by people in the same boat as you – probably homesick, nervous, but excited for a great year. I know dorms can seem horrible, but if you make the best of it it’s truly not a bad experience. How many other times in your life do you get to live in a small room with a stranger? It makes for great stories and good memories, I promise.
7. Don’t be upset if you don’t meet your lifelong best friend in that freshman dorm.
A lot of people meet their lifelong best friend in that cramped double room and they never separate. However, if you don’t become besties with your roommate, that’s okay! Don’t feel like you HAVE to become best friends with your roommate. Sure, it helps, but really all you need to do is coexist in order to have a good living situation. You can meet your best friend from class, clubs, football games, you name it. Don’t stress out if you don’t see yourself being with that first roommate forever- there’s over 40,000 people on campus, I promise you’ll find that person!
8. Take advantage of student discounts and free events.
One of the main perks of going to a large school is having large events stop on campus. In the past year, we’ve had Kanye, Florida Georgia Line, All Time Low, and DRAM perform. As a student, you can get discounted concert tickets for the BJC for every show that stops here. Also, sometimes the school offers free concerts (Movin’ On at the end of the year is not to miss!) that you won’t get anywhere else. Take advantage of these cheap and free events! When’s the next time you can see a headlining act for $1?
9. Go to office hours and free study groups.
A lot of places downtown like LionTutors and Nittany Notes will offer paid study guides and tutoring for some of Penn State’s most popular classes, like Stat 200, Math 140, and Chem 110. Even though this seems enticing, go to the free options that Penn State provides. A lot of times, the TA’s have seen the exams and can guide you through some of the trickier aspects of the exams that downtown tutors can’t. Professors also genuinely want to help you; if you make yourself known to them, it could seriously help you out come finals time. Your professor knowing you by name is never a bad thing, and your professor will see the effort you’re putting in and be willing to put effort in, too. A lot of them are good people and funny outside of class if you get to know them.
10. Get involved in THON (or at least attend.)
In case you don’t know, THON is the world’s largest student-run philanthropy event in the world. It’s a 46 hour no-sitting no-sleeping dance marathon that raises money for kids with cancer. It’s an incredible event that thousands of people are involved in every year. You don’t have to be a dancer to get involved; there are committees, THON orgs, dancers, Greek Life is a large part, and general attendees who help raise money. The sense of community you get no matter what aspect you’re involved in is unbelievable and you’re really making a difference to families and children across the country. No matter what it is that you do to help out THON weekend – do something. You’ll regret it if you don’t do this your freshman year at Penn State.
11. Make sure you get a picture at the Lion Shrine.
It’s cheesy, but it’s true. You’re going to want a picture next to the second-most photographed location in the state of Pennsylvania your freshman year. You’ll also want one your senior year so you can see how much you’ve grown (you will have!) in the past four years. A picture at the shrine marks the beginning of your Penn State journey, so don’t forget to take one before four years have flown by.
12. Eat all the iconic foods.
Penn State has great foods to offer both downtown and on campus that you have to try. Make your way down to the Waffle Shop (stand in line, it’s worth it) for brunch with your friends. Try a grilled sticky from The Diner. Order Pokey Sticks one too many times. Get Canyon on a Saturday night. Try every creamery flavor. You’ll find your favorite, but make sure you try them all.
13. Show off your school pride.
Nobody does school spirit quite like we do, so don’t hold back. Whether it’s buying every t-shirt you can, cheering loudly at every game for every sport, or having a “We Are” flag hanging up in your dorm, show off your school. McLanahan’s downtown has $8 t-shirts and usually gets new ones before and after big football games and events- buy them. You’re going to want a t-shirt for just about every event, and you’ll get use out of all of them. Come senior year, you’ll have more Penn State memorabilia than you know what to do with, but that’s what happens when you go to the greatest school in America.
14. Take risks.
Go to the career fair even though you’re nervous for it. Interview to be a tour guide, a THON captain, an employee, and everything in between. Rush a sorority or a fraternity. Start a conversation with the girl who sits next to you in English 15. Apply for your dream internship. Let strangers throw you into the air after a touchdown at the football games. Go out with your friends on a Friday night even if it’s not your thing. Sign up for that club you have secretly liked the idea of but were too embarrassed to sign up for. Penn State has so much to offer you, that you’d be silly not to take advantage of it all. Don’t be afraid of what people think of you! You’re going to be judged no matter what, so might as well be judged doing something you love.
15. Take pictures of everything and have fun.
Another cliche, I know, but also true. You can’t have too many pictures of everything that you do with your friends and all the experiences you have. You never know, twenty years down the line, the picture of you at the Ohio State football game with your at-the-time best friend might make your day to find. College is one of the most fun times in your life, so make sure you document it (print your pictures!) and enjoy every minute of it. It goes by fast, but its a good time.