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Five Freshman Seminar Alternatives

Welcome freshmen! I see you’ve survived your first month here as a Penn State student. By now, you’ve undoubtedly Instagrammed a photo of Old Main, argued with or watched someone argue with the Willard Preacher, eaten a West cookie, and told 13 different people the same uninteresting story about just how drunk you were last weekend and how much you can’t even (don’t worry, we’ve noticed your progress). Staples of your first month in Happy Valley, no doubt.

Are you familiar with State College? Maybe. Are you masters of State College? Hell no. But! No fear, Penn State Lives Here and gives you the godsend course to help you adjust to “the high expectations, demanding workload, increased academic liberties, and other aspects of the transition to college life”: your First-Year Seminar (Kudos to the people that found a loophole out of it. LEAP/English 015S all the way baby). Even if you’re not a freshman, take note! Some of these classes could help people who never learned them in a freshman seminar and have yet to pick up on them.

Now, I’ve stood behind enough of you walking on Pollock and watched you cower in fear of opening one of the six HUB front doors to see that there’s a glaring need for some improvement in what Penn State is teaching you in these seminars. And I’ve grown so pissed off passionate about it that I’m coming all the way from the photography department to help. So I present to you my five suggestions for freshman seminars, Penn State University Bulletin style.

And trust me. All of you need every single one of them.

PSU 001 Theories and Applications of Using a Door

This course is designed to mitigate the long lines of people that are formed whenever someone doesn’t go through the unused door in front of them and would rather wait three years for the other one. Previous assumptions about door usage and a more general survey of why the hell you are waiting for the left side door when the right side door is not being used will be the focus. Particular attention will also be paid to those people who try to slide through a door before it closes and end up running into the person on that side, because there’s another damn door, and you should just use that one instead.

This course contains assignments dealing with:

1)      Right side doors.

2)      Left side doors.

3)      That’s it. That’s literally it. There are two.

Note: Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will not vary. Everyone will be forced to take this class or get the hell out.


PSU 022 The Sidewalk and You

Based in both principles of pedestrianism as well as survival theory, this class will serve two purposes: to help students understand that there is, in fact, a right side of the sidewalk to walk on, as well as how to cross major roads without being plowed over by someone that probably isn’t even going anywhere important. Highlights of The Sidewalk and You will include the debunking of the rumor that walking in the middle of the sidewalk playing Candy Crush is a great way to exist, as well as the lesson on why standing five bros wide coming down Shortlidge and shouting about how swoll you feel after your White Building workout is unnecessary. This course will also feature many trips through campus to experience the death trap that is Pollock Road in the middle of the day and the proper ways to cross it without standing in the middle of the road waiting for bikers to pass and looking awkward.

The course contains assignments dealing with:

1)      Walking while texting.

2)      Walking on the right side of the sidewalk.

3)      Crossing Pollock & Curtin without being flattened by the bikers on their own Tour de France.

4)      Learning to not be a biker on the Tour de France; you’re already going to get to class before everyone else, Lance. Chill.

Note: Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary based on how many people run into others and have no excuse other than “Oh, my bad dude.”


PSU 040 The CATA System

A very high demand course for first-year students, this class will focus exclusively on how easy it is to ride the CATA bus and how first-year students inevitably do everything in their power to make it a lot more difficult than it has to be. A special segment of the course will deal with all the ways to properly enter the bus, including: the front door, the front door, the front door, and any door that isn’t the back door. Other areas of concentration: how to treat the drivers with respect, what to not bring onboard, and the rehearsal of popular cheers such as the We Are chant, Zombie Nation, and “We’re not that drunk.”

The course contains assignments dealing with:

1)      Not getting in through the back door.

2)      Not bringing drinks onboard.

3)      Not getting in through the back door.

4)      Standing behind the yellow line.

5)      Using the front door to get in. Not the back door.

Note: Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary based on how many people get yelled at by the bus driver on a typical Friday night at the East White Loop stop.


PSU 060 Acceptance vs. Being Awkward

This course will offer a broad survey of typical first-year behavior and how to avoid it and not be awkward all the time.

The course contains assignments dealing with:

1)      Not wearing lanyards at all, to anything ever.

2)      Not saying that you’re actually a sophomore because you came in with AP credit. The lanyard you’re probably still wearing around your neck speaks otherwise.

3)      Not hooking up with people on your floor unless you want to live in a puddle of awkwardness the rest of the year.

4)      Realizing that HUB Late Night is only a thing if you get discounted Burger King. But mostly it’s just not a thing at all, ever.

Note: Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary based on how many people go ahead and hook up with someone on their floor anyway.


PSU 101 How to Succeed at Penn State Without Really Trying

Perhaps the most crucial seminar available, PSU 101 deals with the daily struggles that a student may encounter not just in their first year, but in all their time at Penn State. This course draws attention to some of the most important aspects of succeeding in these four years, including: getting involved, talking to new people, and doing things you never thought you would do before. Particular interest will be paid to not caring what other people have to say. It’s your tuition and your four years.

The course contains assignments dealing with:

1)      Forming a relationship with your advisor.

2)      Joining a club that suits your interests.

3)      Joining a random club.

4)      Debunking the “I never studied in high school and still got straight A’s” mentality. Studying in college is a thing.

5)      Getting outside of your comfort zone and finding out what makes you happy.

Note: Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary based on the number of people who won’t realize how lucky they are to have four years of Penn State ahead of them.

So head on out of your dimly lit dorm rooms and start making good on some of these suggestions. The rest of the Penn State population will thank you.

Just please use the right door.

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About the Author

Sean Gregory

I take photos of things, and write the occasional article for the #folks.

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