Make The Most Of Happy Valley: Greg Schlosser’s Senior Column
Three years ago, I sheepishly walked into my very first Onward State meeting. At the time, I was just a wide-eyed freshman with very few friends and no real sense of where my college career would take me. I had previously tried to catch on with various clubs within my major during my first semester, but I never really connected with any of them and ultimately struggled to make friends. So, with nothing left to lose, I decided to join Onward State out of the blue in the spring of my freshman year.
I can’t say I remember any specific details from my first OS meeting other than volunteering to write some bullshit story about Faculty Senate because I wanted to make a good first impression. (Life tip: Don’t ever volunteer to write about faculty senate. It’s boring.) However, what I do remember from my first meeting was that I felt like I fit in with a group of people for the first time ever at Penn State.
152 stories later, I can now say that my OS career is coming to a close. They say there are three inevitable certainties in life: Death, Taxes, and Graduation. Or at least I think that’s the saying, anyway. Regardless, it’s time for me to graduate, which means it’s time for me to write my final story for Onward State.
Senior columns are strange, because I’m supposed to either reflect on my time at Penn State or grace you all with some life-changing advice about college, life, or what have you. In reality, I’d wager that 98.7 percent of you don’t care about my *~personal~* college experience and my advice is usually mediocre at best. But alas, for the sake of reaching a decent word count and stroking my own ego, I have one piece of advice for you lucky kids that aren’t graduating:
Don’t be the guy that says a diploma was the only thing he got out of four years at Penn State.
I will forever be grateful for all the experiences I had at Penn State. Joining Onward State and eventually UPUA was the best decision I’ve ever made, and I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. I traveled to away football games, covered the hockey team during its first year at Pegula, and met two university presidents. I also ate pizza with Herb Hand, learned a lot about Penn State history, and met tons of amazing people along the way. Most importantly, I found a great group a friends that made the last four years absolutely incredible.
And that’s the great thing about Penn State. There are so many opportunities here to make the next four years some of the best years of your life. My path was Onward State and UPUA, but maybe yours is THON, Greek life, or the board game club. Maybe it’s (God forbid) the Collegian. The point is, Penn State has something to offer for everyone, and it’s absolutely foolish to go through four years in Happy Valley as just another face in the crowd. You owe it to yourself to make the most of Penn State and your college career. As cliche as it sounds, college isn’t just about classes; it’s also about the experiences you have and the people you meet.
When I look back on my four years in State College, I can’t help but feel sad that it’s all over now. Sure, there’s no more studying, no more tests, and no more long nights working on lab reports in some depressing computer lab. I’m extremely excited to begin the next chapter of my life, even if it means being uncomfortably close to Columbus, Ohio. But graduation means no more spontaneous trips to the Phyrst, no more hungover Pizza Hut meals with my roommates on lazy Sunday afternoons, and no more sunny afternoons with friends on the Café 210 patio. Sure, I’ll be back to visit as much as I can, but it’ll never be the same once I graduate in two days.
With that in mind, my parting words to you are this: Make these four years count. Go out on a Tuesday. Go to a concert at the BJC even though you have a test the next day. Join the club that has no relation to your major. Apply for that officer position that sounds interesting even if you know it’ll be time-consuming. Just do something that immerses you in the Penn State culture and makes you a better person. I promise you won’t regret it.
But, for the love of God, avoid those Faculty Senate meetings.