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Freshman 101: What To Do If You Didn’t Get Into Schreyer The First Time

Thousands of applicants dream of attending Penn State as a Schreyer Honors College student. Unfortunately, earning that acceptance letter is extremely difficult — the good news, however, is that you still have a chance to participate in the program once you actually begin your classes at Penn State. There are two programs to consider if you still want a shot at graduating from Schreyer.

Paterno Fellows Program 

Students who apply to enroll in the College of Liberal Arts can gain admittance to Schreyer by completing the Paterno Fellows program track. And here’s the good news — joining the Paterno Fellows program is based solely on your own judgement. If you think you’re up for the challenge, you have the freedom to give this academic track a shot. When you first decide to embark on this journey, you’ll become an “Aspirant.” From then on, you must follow a specific track dependent on your major of choice in order to make sure you officially graduate from the honors college.

Participants can look forward to a variety of honors classes, internship experiences, and research opportunities from the program. Paterno Fellows students can also receive funding through the College of Liberal Arts for these programs.

The deadline for meeting each individual requirement is the end of a student’s sophomore year, but if you officially complete all prerequisites from your individual major, you can officially become a Schreyer Scholar after only one year. It’s important to note that you need to keep up at least a 3.5 GPA if you want to take this route. For those interested, here’s some more information about what to expect when enrolling in Paterno Fellows.

Schreyer Gateway Scholars Program 

As long as you’ve finished one semester of courses at Penn State, you’re eligible to apply for the Gateway Scholars Program for direct admittance into Schreyer. The Gateway Scholars program is a fantastic way to let yourself get settled into a college environment before deciding to take on the challenge of an honors program. Transfer applicants can also request to apply credits obtained from a previous institution toward their application.

Unlike the Paterno Fellows program, there is a specific application for this program with various requirements. All applicants must have at least a 3.70 cumulative undergraduate GPA. Rising sophomores must have a 3.70 semester GPA at the time of the application, and rising juniors must maintain a 3.50 for that semester. Accepted students also must also attend an orientation at the beginning of the next fall semester.

Whereas Paterno Fellows students generally focus their education on liberal arts-based majors, applicants from all majors can choose to apply as a Gateway Scholar. Although gateway students don’t receive an Academic Excellence scholarship from joining the program, Schreyer still offers plenty of the standard benefits that typically come with being enrolled in the honors college. If you’re looking for a way to expand your resources and engage in extra academic opportunities, this program is worth looking into. For more information, reach out to a professor or advisor, and make sure to check out the Schreyer handbook.

Other Tips

  • The Paterno Fellows program and the Gateway Scholars Program are generally mutually exclusive. To avoid the extra stress, try not to join Paterno Fellows if you think you might want to be a part of the Gateway Scholars program, and vice versa. If you’re not sure which program would be best for you, have a chat with your advisor to figure out the appropriate path.
  • Perhaps the most important distinction between the two programs is that Paterno Fellows is geared toward students in their first half of college, and the Gateway Scholars program targets students who have already begun at least one year of their college career. Though you can enter both programs after you’ve already begun your college courses, you should keep in mind that it becomes increasingly difficult to enter Paterno Fellows as you progress throughout college, as the program has a very rigid set of honors course requirements throughout all four years (not just the final two). Make sure to plan ahead if you have a specific preference for either of the two programs over the other.
  • Requirements are often major-specific for both programs. These extra rules center around every aspect of the application, from GPA requirements to deadlines. For example, although the Gateway Scholars application is available starting at the same time each year, not all majors have the same submission deadline. Some majors also have restrictions on when you can and can’t apply based on how long you’ve been enrolled. Make sure to check in with your advisor to confirm the specific requirements for your degree.
  • Minimum requirements are exactly that — minimums. Just because you have the required GPA to apply, this doesn’t mean you should just coast for the rest of your time at Penn State. Keep your grades as high as you possibly can (while still keeping your sanity), and make sure to branch out when it comes to participating in activities around campus. Any college honors program seeks well-rounded students, and Schreyer is no exception.
  • If you’re even considering applying to Schreyer, don’t ever put your grades on the back burner. Especially in your first half of school, one grade can make a major difference in your cumulative GPA. If you’re not yet positive that Schreyer is the best choice for you, you’ll still want to give yourself the best chance at success if you do decide to apply.
  • If you enroll in either program, congratulations! But keep in mind the journey doesn’t end here. Your grades will still be of the utmost importance in order to stay in Schreyer throughout your time at Penn State. You definitely don’t want to lose a privilege you’ve worked so hard to attain, so make sure to keep track of major-specific requirements for this aspect of the program, as well.

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About the Author

Claire Fountas

Claire Fountas is the student life editor for Onward State, as well as a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and psychology. She lives in a suburb of Chicago and strongly disagrees with anyone who hates the Cubs or the Blackhawks (so, pretty much anyone at Penn State). You can follow her @ClaireFountas or email her at [email protected]


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