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Freshmen 101: Sylly Week Survival Guide

Syllabus week, known as “Sylly Week” to many of us, is the first taste of college for most freshmen. But it’s not quite the same as a normal week during the semester, since homework isn’t as plentiful and exams are far on the horizon. Starting the semester off right is important for any student, and for the freshmen, it all starts today. Finding the balance between work and play can seem daunting to new students, so we’ve made a guide to get you off on the right foot.

Explore campus and downtown.

This is crucial. Our campus is huge — it has tons to offer and loads of new places to explore. Take a walk and check out campus landmarks like Old Main, the Berkey Creamery, and the Lion Shrine. You can find just about anything you want in State College — you just need to get out of East Halls and find it.

Try hard not to pig out on ALL of the food options before you.

Downtown State College has dozens of food options. Although pizza for $1 a slice is tempting, try not to make it a staple of your diet unless you’re looking forward to the Freshman 15.

Party it up.

This is the lightest your workload is going to be for the semester, so take advantage while you can! Syllabus Week is a good opportunity to meet new people and try new things (read: Jungle Juice. But, you know, be careful).

Don’t skip your classes. 


This may seem tempting since there isn’t much work assigned the first week. Ultimately, you’re just doing yourself a disservice; you’ll be lost once the real work starts.

Befriend your neighbors and roommates.

You’ll be stuck living with your roommates all year, so now is the time for great first impressions. If you’re like most freshmen, you’re living with someone random. Try to get past the awkwardness of living with a complete stranger and form a friendship with your new roommie. Neighbors make great friends, too!

Don’t try to navigate campus without a map. Or an app.


The campus is huge, and in all likelihood, you’re going to get lost a few times. Find your classes ahead of time and mark your route on a map so you don’t end up late on your first day.

Introduce yourself to your professors.


Now that you’re in college, your professors are no longer just teachers — they can also act as mentors or even future employers. Having a good relationship with them is important for your education and career, so take them time to introduce yourself the first week of class and make a good impression.

Don’t skip dorm events.

Going to socials and events for new students in your dorm or other campus spots is a great way to make new friends. You may think the events your RAs have put together seem lame, but so does everyone else who is in attendance, so you’re all lame together (which means none of you are lame at all!).
Decide which clubs and organizations you want to join.
Penn State has more than 1,000 clubs and orgs for you to check out. No matter what you’re interested in, there’s something that will pique your interest. From the Cheese club to the Furry Club, you’re bound to find something you want to get involved in.
Actually read over your syllabi. 
They don’t call it Syllabus Week for nothing! This week is important because it’s the only time you have to check out your classes before the add/drop period ends. The quickest way to get a feel for a class is to skim over the calendar in the syllabus. If you see something you really don’t like, now is the time to get the hell out of there.
Resist the urge to argue with the Willard Preacher.
For those who are unfamiliar, the Willard Preacher is a campus staple. It’s impossible to miss his “preaching” if you walk anywhere near the Willard Building. But no matter what he says that may bother you — do not engage. You’re not going to convince him of anything.
There you have it — a freshmen guide to navigating Sylly Week. Upperclassmen, feel free to leave more tips for the new kids on campus.

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About the Author

Sarah Caskie

Sarah is a senior majoring in Journalism. She can usually be found at Saint’s looking up cat videos, or writing about music and stuff. She can be reached on Twitter at @classycaskie or via email at [email protected]

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