Freshman 101: What To Expect From Summer Session

Whether you’re an incoming freshman or an upperclassmen trying to earn a few extra credits, summer session at Penn State is undeniably one of the best times of the year. There is a lot to look forward to, but not much time to prepare for the semester that starts in two months.

To help you get ready for your first college experience, we compiled a guide to taking on Penn State for the first time…in June.

The Same Classes Every Day

When you schedule, you’ll notice that classes are held every day during summer session. This is different from the traditional college schedule, where most classes have either a Monday-Wednesday-Friday or Tuesday-Thursday rotation.

While it can sound mundane to have the same classes every day, most students only take one or two courses over the summer. Instead of having to worry about five classes with finals, you’ll only have to worry about two, so it isn’t nearly as stressful.

My advice is to make sure you schedule classes back-to-back. It may sound dreadful, but trust me, it’s worth it when you’re finally done class and have the rest of the day to yourself. Even though you’ll have to go to the same classes everyday, the class environment is less intense and you’ll have a lot of free time once you get out for the day. Speaking of free time…

Plenty Of Free Time

No matter your class schedule, you’ll have a lot of free time during the week. Sure you could use this to nap or watch Netflix, but you also have to opportunity to explore State College, hit the gym, or just walk around campus to get a feel for everything before the hectic fall semester. There’s also events held on campus and in State College to check out, including 4thFest, Arts Fest, and State College Spikes’ games.

Once you get a feel for campus, consider taking some of your time to venture outside the world of Penn State. You can go out to Mount Nittany or explore one of the many other hiking trails within reasonable distance of campus. There’s also the movie theater and the Nittany Mall if you want to get away from school for a few hours but still do something familiar.

There Aren’t Many Orgs On Campus

If you’re planning to come to Penn State and hit the ground running by joining all kinds of clubs and organizations, you’re going to have to wait until the fall. Most of the clubs aren’t really active over the summer and Greek life doesn’t host rushing for summer pledge classes. The clubs that do meet over the summer are more interested in catching up or planning ahead than they are beefing up their general body attendance or bringing on new members. There are still parties and events, you just have to work a little harder to find them.

Summer session is an opportunity to get extra classes in while still having time to relax and enjoy summer. When it does come time to find the right clubs for you in August, you’ll already have a leg up on those who didn’t do Summer Session. When other freshmen are going to be pulled in a million different directions all while trying to find their way around campus and figure out how college classes work, you’ll be able to focus on joining the perfect org(s).

Campus Is Completely Different

The weather is nice, things are more relaxed, and campus is so different than it is during the school year. You might not recognize this until everyone comes back for the fall and brings with them hectic days and heavy foot traffic, so take the time in the summer to appreciate the atmosphere.

Summer session also gives you a lot of time to get accustomed to college life without having to deal with an overwhelming campus environment. For many students, coming to Penn State could be the biggest decision of their lives because of the large campus, but summer makes college less of a culture shock. Even though Penn State is a big campus, the population of students is a lot smaller during the summer; nowhere near the 40,000 undergrads that take over the rest of the year.

Professors are also different during the summer. A number of instructors are graduate students or new professors and sometimes use summer session as their first opportunity to teach a Penn State-level course. Even the more seasoned professors understand that it’s summer school and aren’t as intense as they might be during the year.


These are some of the general things to expect, but Summer Session is really what you make it. Can it suck when your friends are all lounging on the beach while your sitting in class? Sure, but if you love Penn State or are looking for the opportunity to get ahead, Summer Session is a unique way to experience school for the first time. But enjoy it while you can, because come August it’s a whole other ball game.

Anything you’re still wondering? Ask us in the comments!

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About the Author

Jacob Abrams

Jacob Abrams is a sophomore from Oxford, PA, majoring in Management in the Smeal College of Business. Jacob is the President/GM of The LION 90.7 FM along with being a play-by-play commentator and sports talk show host. He is a sports fanatic, and strongly supports the Philadelphia Phillies, Flyers, Sixers, and the New Orleans Saints. He is a first-generation Penn Stater, and in his free time he likes to play sports and sing. You can follow him on Twitter @jake_abrams and contact him at [email protected]

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