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So You Got Accepted To Penn State: FAQs For Admitted Students

As the fall semester draws to a close and the holidays creep ever closer, it’s officially college acceptance SZN. For our teenaged readers or those some years removed from the college admissions process, this marks the time of year when high school seniors seriously start stressing about perfecting those college essays and applying for scholarships.

Making a decision about which college you want to go to is never easy. Even if Penn State is your dream school (as it should be), you undoubtedly have tons of questions because making adult decisions can be scary as hell.

We’ve all been there. We all took that first tour with our pair of Lion Scouts, sampled that first bite of Creamery ice cream, and witnessed the insanity of our first football game. Despite how incredible of an experience this all can be, it’s also incredibly overwhelming.

As you start receiving your acceptances and making decisions, it’s important to understand as much as you can about University Park. From an accepted (and current) student’s perspective, here’s what you need to know.

Is the campus really that big?

Short answer: Kind of.

Long answer: People who go to small schools like to criticize bigger schools because they think it’s too big to get to know your classmates and professors. This just isn’t the case. Depending on your major, your classes will probably be in a certain area of campus, like in Chambers if you’re an education major or on West Campus if you’re an engineer.

While those gen eds in Thomas 100 or the Forum are going to be pretty big, as you move towards your major, class sizes dramatically shrink. If you have a class that’s on the opposite side of campus from your dorm, hop on the Blue Loop or White Loop — the free campus/downtown bus system — and you’ll be good to go.

Plus, one of the benefits of going to a big school is the seemingly limitless number of opportunities available to you. Once you join a club and get involved, it becomes next to impossible to walk around campus or downtown without seeing someone you know. Seriously, it’s crazy how often you’ll run into the same people.

Is the dining hall food actually good?

The food is generally pretty good, but the trick is not to eat in any one place too many days in a row. There are so many options to choose from whether you decide to go to North, South, East, West, or Pollock dining halls. Each one has something unique and exciting to offer.

South makes kick-ass paninis and sells wings on Tuesdays. Pollock has an unbeatable brunch buffet on the weekends. And West’s chocolate chip cookies are divine.

There are also on-campus Panera locations near center campus, and HUB dining is great too if you’re on the go (just be sure to avoid the lunch rush). On-campus convenience stores are clutch for stocking up on dorm room snacks or getting a quick milkshake.

Basically, even if you get sick of the dining halls, there are always other options. We pay way too much in tuition for the food to be crap, so you’ll definitely find something you like.

How can I make friends in a school so big?

The thing about freshmen is that they’re all in this simultaneously exciting, yet overwhelmingly terrifying position, just like you. You’re all starting the next phase of your life together, so don’t worry about looking desperate for friends because everyone is.

Go to the Involvement Fair at the beginning of the semester and sign up for anything that looks even remotely interesting to you, even if you’re scared. You don’t have to join every club, but go to at least one meeting to find out which one is right for you. You may meet your new best friends. Talk to the people on your floor and invite them to dinner or study.

Put yourself outside of your comfort zone. College is a chance to figure out who you are and completely reinvent yourself, so don’t overthink it and Just. Do. It.

Should I buy football tickets?

Yes. One-thousand times yes. Even if you hate football, even if sports are totally not your thing, you must buy football tickets.

When the first game rolls around, all of the people on your floor will be making plans to go together, because they won’t know anyone yet or have any tailgates to go to, and no one will mind if you ask to tag along.

This is the easiest way to bond with the people on your floor and get to know them a little better. Plus, how can you brag to your friends about the insane football school you go to if you don’t have pictures to post on Instagram?

Buy those season tickets, make plans with everyone, take lots of pictures, get a chicken basket, and when you finally hear Zombie Nation for the first time as a student, remember to take it all in.

Are classes really that hard?

For some reason, high school teachers love to try to push their students to work harder and meet deadlines by saying that college professors are super strict and won’t tolerate any shenanigans. In some majors, this may be true, but the majority of professors who aren’t the worst can make even the most boring of classes the highlight of your day.

Of course, this doesn’t offset the amount of work you will have to do. I mean, you are in college and it is a lot of hard work. But the good news is that most professors will go out of their way to help you if you need it. There are huge opportunities to develop really strong relationships with the faculty here if you just put some effort in.

Time management is also really important. Yes, there will be weeks where you have three exams and a paper due all on the same day, but as long as you take the time to get your work done and don’t let yourself get distracted, you’ll be in pretty good shape. Going to office hours when you’re confused definitely helps, and there are a ton of tutoring resources on campus too.

Why do the Jonas Brothers come here so much?

Joe Jonas is the ultimate Penn Stater. If he, Kevin, and Nick hadn’t gone on to become boy band gods, he definitely would’ve gone here for college.

To make a long story short, Joe spent his twenty-first birthday at Champs North Atherton when the band was performing a show in Harrisburg in 2010. Since then, Joe’s come back to State College several times and never misses an opportunity to stop by Champs for a quick set.

Sometimes it’s just him, sometimes it’s the whole crew, and sometimes he even pours shots down patrons’ throats.

Basically, you have a better chance at meeting the Jonas Brothers in State College than anywhere else in the country. Are you still having a hard time deciding?

Is Penn State really a cult?

We’ll leave that for you to decide. As the saying goes, no one loves Penn State like Penn State loves Penn State. To outsiders, the way that Penn Staters love their school is obnoxious and annoying, but to us, it’s just some good ol’ fashioned school spirit.

You will never find a fan base or group of alumni who love their college the way that we do. Even if you arrive on campus a skeptic, you can’t help but get sucked into it.

If you’re thinking of joining a cult, this is by far the best one to join, but if you think school spirit is lame, you will not fit in here.

Penn State is a place where students actually know the words to their Alma Mater and how many wins their old football coach had. It’s a school that’s rooted in tradition and bound by a common love for the institution that has given us a home and a family, and there’s truly nothing else like it.

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About the Author

Katie Moats

Katie Moats is a junior majoring in English, and although she says she's from Chicago, she could spit and it would hit Wisconsin. One time she studied abroad for about a minute and decided to get an entire tattoo on her body about it. If you like seeing Penn State-themed retweets and other stupid memes, you can follow her @k_moats24 on Twitter. All email inquiries must be written in the form of a poem and may be sent to [email protected]


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