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Freshman 101: Penn State Summer To-Do List

You did it. You battled the SATs, woke up at the crack of dawn every morning, completed a number of college applications, and finally made the right choice (enrolling at Penn State). You’re probably amped to be starting life as a college student this fall. For now, however, the summer is still going strong and the reality of college may not have sunk in just yet. But get ready, because even as you’re lying on your hammock and tanning the long, hot days away, there’s housekeeping to be done. Class of 2019: behold your freshman checklist. Think of it as a chore/to-do list to prepare you for the beginning of the best years of your life (it’ll be a lot more fun than doing laundry, I promise).

First Things First: Get To Know Penn State!

If you want to embrace your blue and white pride, there’s more you need to know than the fact we’re a huge university that enjoys football and THON (which is true, but we’re so much more than that, too). Example: did you know Penn State was originally called The Farmer’s High School of Pennsylvania? While you’re lazing around one of these days, read up about the university you will call home in just a couple short months.

Old Main flowers
Old Main: photogenic in any season. (Photo: Dave Cole)

Brace Yourself For The Dorm Room Life

Odds are you grew up somewhere spacious and open, basking in the solitude of your own room or sharing the space with a blood relative. Transitioning from your family’s home to one single bedroom shared with another person may take some getting used to. However, this is the price to pay for living the high energy and exciting life of a college freshman, which is totally worth it (and nothing to be too scared about). You’ll trade in your comfortable bed at home for a new, humble twin bed, your fully stocked giant fridge for a modest microfridge to share, and transition from your home’s bathroom to the communal ones. So yes, savor every last day living in luxury, but also get excited about moving into your very own place away from your parents and home town.

East Halls Stock
East Halls is a common living assignment for freshmen, whether they hate to love it or love to hate it. (Photo: Onward State)

Decorating

With this independence and acclimation to dorm life comes the power of interior decorating. Have you always wanted to hang up a certain risqué poster in your room but your mom frowned upon it? Now is your chance! Instead of waiting for the week before move in day like me to waddle frantically around Bed Bath and Beyond, Home Goods, Target, or Walmart, keep your eyes peeled every day for possible decorations and interesting ideas to pimp out your future place. Collecting your bedding, posters, and any appliances a little earlier can make your transition a lot easier.

Here are some classic (and yes, rather cliché) dorm decorations to get your feng shui mindset going. If you’re looking for more eccentric and unique ideas, check out our Penn State Cribs series.

OS Cribs Nick Towers Wall 3
These decorations could be yours! (Photo: Dana Lipshutz)

Meet The Roomie

If you’re like many students, you may have sorted through piles of fellow freshmen on the “Penn State Class of 2019” Facebook page in a desperate attempt to find the perfect roommate. Or maybe you’re taking a leap of faith and “going random,” which can be as exciting as it is nerve-wracking. Either way, get in touch with them! Don’t wait until you both parade into your room for the first time to have the potentially awkward encounter. Text them regularly, chat with them, or possibly even try to meet up with them to start feeling more comfortable before move-in week. After all, you’ll be sharing the same 100 or so square feet.

State College Study Abroad_Dorm_Morton Lin-9472
See? Roommates are fun and dorm life isn’t so bad after all! (Photo: Morton Lin)

Know Your Surroundings

University Park is not your quaint high school campus. Yes, it is gorgeous and spacious and lovely, but it takes time to get to know. I had been on campus a dozen times before beginning my first year as a student and I still found myself a bit “lost-puppy-esque” during the first few weeks. Though you may not be able to visit State College this summer, introduce yourself to the campus map. Get to know your fall semester schedule and highlight the buildings you will be walking to and from. On that note, get ready to do a lot of walking, and know you’ll need plenty of time to get to class. Don’t worry though, because within a few weeks as a student, you will feel right at home and know campus like the back of your hand.

West Halls Overhead
An overhead shot of West campus. (Photo: Penn State)

Get Techy

As a college student you will spend many hours using technology, social media, and the internet in general. Before diving into your classes we highly recommend getting comfortable with ANGEL, your Penn State WebMail, and eLion. Cms.psu.edu, better known as ANGEL, is the site used for checking your grades, classes, and assignments. Your Penn State WebMail is your student e-mail address, and you will receive many important notifications and information through it. eLion is used for various things, including your transcript, financial information, and student schedule. If you haven’t been to New Student Orientation yet, however, don’t worry: everything will be explained and you will receive your access account username and password.

webmail-2
A welcome screen you’ll find yourself quickly familiar with.

Think About Extra-Curriculars

Before starting school, do some research on potential clubs or organizations that appeal to you. Rather than just going into your first semester with the mindset “I’m sure I’ll find something,” really KNOW what will be in store for you. Make a point to attend the career and involvement fairs and get involved right off the bat. Do you have your heart set on Greek life? Look into the dates for rush week and make sure you stay on top of it. Are you interested in THON? Learn more about committee and THON org options. Information for all the clubs and organizations are available here, so take some time to learn more. Having at least a few club meetings and activities to attend during your acclimation period makes things a lot more comfortable and you will immediately start making friends and meeting new people.

Involvement Fair
The involvement fair is a great place to find the club or organization perfect for you. (Photo: Onward State)

So there you have it, some major ways to prepare for your life as a Nittany Lion. Simple things like these make transitioning into your freshman year astronomically easier, and a whole lot less intimidating. If you follow a few of these pointers during your summer break, you’ll find yourself itching to start school and ready to dive in as a real pro. But until then, keep enjoying your relaxing break (except for those hectic 17 minutes of 7 a.m. football-ticket sales), and keep your exciting future at Penn State on your mind.

About the Author

Carolyn Popescu

Current senior studying Advertising and Visual Arts, Carolyn has a passion for entertainment and music. She also loves photography, film, graphic design, social media, and all things in between. She's the current Sony Music Marketing Representative for State College, so be sure to reach out to her with any local music scene questions, ideas, proposals, or if you just need someone to geek out about music with.

(Contact her through [email protected] or [email protected])

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