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14 Tips For Smeal Freshman

Here are the top things to keep in mind going into your first year at Penn State. Most of all... enjoy every second.

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1. Go to the involvement fair

The Involvement Fair is by far one of the best opportunities to get involved at Penn State. During the fair, hundreds of student organizations are showcased allowing students to learn more about them. This year, the Involvement Fair will take over the HUB Lawn on August 23, 2017, from 11:00am to 4:00pm. Be sure to check it out! Finding your niche can make a big school feel small!

2. Rent, don't buy

Everyone’s favorite college expense: textbooks. It’s no secret that textbooks can get expensive FAST! However, with a little price shopping, it’s not hard to save a few hundred dollars. Instead of buying your books from the bookstore on campus (although very convenient), try to rent them from The Student Bookstore on College Ave., or buy them online for MUCH cheaper.

3. Always carry an umbrella with you... always

Sunny and 70 one minute, rainy and windy the next. You never know what you’re going to get here in Happy Valley, so be prepared!

4. Download the CATA app

There is nothing worse than running after the Blue Loop (trust me). Get the CATA app so you always know when the bus is coming!

P.S. NEVER get on a CATA bus using the back doors. ALWAYS enter through the front doors!

5. West cookies = best cookies

During your time here at Penn State, eat healthy! However, every now and again, treat yourself to a chocolate chip cookie from West Commons. While chocolate chip cookies are offered at most of the dining commons on campus, everyone knows that West = BEST. The cookies are kept in a warming compartment, so they are always soft, warm, and gooey!

6. Start planning early if you want to study abroad

If you are interested in studying abroad during your time at Penn State, be sure to meet with your academic advisor to discuss your options ASAP! Don’t miss on this opportunity.

P.S. Expert tip for out-of-state students: For most study abroad programs, you will be charged IN-STATE tuition. Yet another great way to cut down on your college expenses.

7. Stay on top of your schoolwork

College is certainly a huge lifestyle change. With more free time and no parental supervision, it can be tempting to procrastinate. DON’T LET THIS BE YOU. Buy a planner to keep track of your assignments and complete them ahead of time in order to save yourself a lot of stress.

8. Go to Penn State football games

Looking to experience the best atmosphere in college football? Well you have certainly come to the right place! There is nothing more exciting than getting together with 107,000 of your closest friends to watch Penn State take down the competition. If you don’t have season tickets but still want to experience a game, you can purchase single game tickets on the Penn State Ticket Exchange in the weeks leading up to the game.

P.S. Whatever you do, NEVER leave a Penn State football game early. You never know when Ohio State might get whited out. #B10CHAMPS

9. Don't fall victim to the HUB

Chick-fil-A. Panda Express. Starbucks. The HUB is certainly what dreams are made of when it comes to food. However, if you don’t want to go broke, don’t eat every meal there. Meals at these vendors are more expensive than the dining commons and can burn through your meal points fast.

P.S. Aside from the HUB and the dining commons, your meal points are also accepted at Beaver Stadium and the various convenience stores on campus.

10. Keep your dorm room door open

The people you meet in your building freshman year are friends that will always be there for you throughout your time at Penn State. Be bold and open your door to meet people during that first week!

11. See your academic advisor BEFORE the scheduling rush

Plan ahead for reviewing your schedule with your advisor before everyone realizes last minute that they need to make an appointment. Schedule a time slot early, write it on your calendar, and come prepared to the meeting with your current schedule, planned schedule, and any questions you may have!

12. Make relationships with your professors

Believe it or not... professors want to help you and see you succeed. They are a great resource to have for advice, help with courses, and future letters of recommendation. Don't be that person who never talks to a professor then asks for a letter of recommendation... no professor likes that person.

13. Explore Penn State

There are so many hidden gems around campus. Take time after classes to walk around, go new places, and don't bury your head in your phone when you're on campus!


Keep in touch with your mentor! You never know what kind of great advice they may have!

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