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Freshman 101: What To Know For Summer Session

Summer session at Penn State is an exciting time for incoming freshmen. You have only two classes to worry about, and there’s plenty of time to explore State College and enjoy the warm weather (just don’t get too used to it).

However, to make the most of your first taste of campus life, there are definitely things you’ll wish you had known before coming to State College. Here are a few things to keep in mind this summer.

Campus Isn’t As Chaotic

This shouldn’t be that surprising, but even with a few thousand students on campus, it’s strange to see a campus that contains 46,000 students during the school year look so quiet.

Part of what makes Penn State exciting is the amount of people. When 99 percent of the student population is not on campus, it can be underwhelming for students who want the big school feel. Sit tight for a few weeks, that desire will satisfied in no time.

What’s LEAP?

The Learning Edge Academic Program (LEAP) helps students adjust to college life with the help of an upperclassman mentor while taking smaller-sized classes.

Each mentor plans events for their group that are centered around the group getting to know each other and acclimating to campus and State College. Events can include meeting for group study sessions, hiking Mt. Nittany, and taking trips to the Creamery.

Students in the Outdoor Orientation groups go on a camping trip at the end of the six-week program.

State College Weather Is Unpredictable

One minute, there’s not a cloud in the sky, and then the next minute, you’re caught in the pouring rain. You check the weather app on your phone, and it’s still calling for a beautiful summer day.

State College weather is unpredictable, and unfortunately, it’s an all-year round ordeal. Always be prepared with an umbrella or rain jacket in your bag, unless you want to walk back to your dorm looking like you just took a shower.

Things To Do Off Campus

State College isn’t the largest town, but there’s plenty to do. From hiking Mt. Nittany to eating breakfast at The Waffle Shop, there are always different things to to try. However, it’s hard for incoming students who aren’t townies to know what to try and where to go.

Tussey Mountain hosts free Movies on the Mountain every Friday night among many other events. You can catch a State College Spikes game at Medlar Field right next to Beaver Stadium. Events like Arts Fest and Central PA 4th Fest are also some highlights of being in State College for summer.

If you’re here for the summer, ask around for suggestions of what to do. Take the chance to explore everything before the chaos of the fall semester begins when you won’t have all the time in the world.

Summer Hours Downtown

State College is a college town so naturally, its businesses thrive from late August to early May. But once the majority of students have gone home for the summer, businesses shorten their hours. Makes sense.

While it only affects students and locals, it still puts a damper on any potential plans you’ve made if you can only make it at certain times.

Summer Session Is Different From The Regular School Year

Being away from home for the first time is tough, but the good thing about summer session is it allows you to get used to college life in a calmer setting. To say that life will be perfect because you’re not in the thick of college life yet is a lie.

Just know that because summer session didn’t work out as you originally thought it would doesn’t mean that fall semester will turn out the same way. The regular school year is more stressful than summer session, but it’s also more exciting with football, THON, and much more to do.


Summers in State College are the perfect time for incoming freshmen to adjust to college life, but it’s still essential to know what to expect if you’re going to be spending six weeks here.

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Mackenzie is a sophomore majoring in English and one of Onward State's news editors. She is from Minersville, PA and is always trying to explain exactly where that is. She loves Broadway musicals, volleyball, and Irving's. Email all compliments to [email protected], and follow her on Twitter @MackenzieC__.

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