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What Do Penn Staters Wish They Told Their Freshman Year-Selves?

Last week, we asked what advice you would share with your freshman year-self. As always, our readers didn’t disappoint.

From putting yourself out there more to living in the moment, Penn Staters gave their freshman year-selves some pretty valuable advice now that they’re a bit older and wiser.

Without further ado, here are some of the best freshman year advice submissions:

Aaron — Class Of 2013

“Especially the first semester, invest hard into making a ton of friends. Don’t let those friendships be shallow; invest in making some of them deep and long-lasting. Also, consider breadth. Go to parties, join clubs, and make an effort to connect with the people you meet there and reconnect later.

Above all else, do not coast on the first one or two friends you make or the friends you bring from high school. People change, and it is way too easy to convince yourself you have enough friends, only to find that one or two drift away, and you end up in a desert without many social connections.

People are making friends left and right at the start of the freshman semester. That’s the easiest time to expand your social circles. Don’t miss out on that huge opportunity.”

Scott Sesler

“I wish I had kept a daily journal of my activities, classes, and acquaintances. It gets harder as time goes by to accurately remember when all those great things happened and with whom.”

Analisa Tafro

“If you’re even thinking about joining a club, team, activity, do it. I had all these clubs I wanted to join over the years but never made the time, and now I’m a senior and regret not joining them.”

Claire Pfluger

“I knew my very first semester that I was in the wrong major. Math is not at all my strong suit, but I pursued a math-heavy major because I wanted to please my family.

“I ended up miserable and am going back for another degree that I actually do want. My advice to freshman year me would be to switch majors. At the end of the day, my name is the one on the degree, and it should be a degree I can proudly stand behind. If my family cares, they’ll come around.”

Brandon Paris

“Drop out now while you still have the chance and learn a trade.”

Julia Foust

“Things are not going to go as planned. You’re going to switch your major, your friends will come and go, and you’ll be faced with a lot of self-doubts. But it’s all for the better. You’re going to experience change and pain you had never anticipated, but it’s going to lead you toward your happiest self. You’ll figure it out — trust me on this one — so learn to appreciate where you are now and enjoy your time at Penn State. It goes by in the blink of an eye.”

Lauren Seiple

“If someone invites you to something, go to it! Make the most of your college experience because something crazy could happen like a pandemic, and you will miss out on things that you took advantage of by saying, ‘Oh, we’ll just go to it next year.'”

Brandon S.

“Everyone feels nervous and uncomfortable freshman year. You’re not the only one, so don’t be afraid to reach out to others and be yourself.”

Kay Ella Summers

“Break up with the boy from back home. You’ll have more fun if you do!”


Some of these responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Mackenzie is a junior majoring in English and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She is from Minersville, PA, and is always trying to explain exactly where that is. Send all compliments to [email protected] or @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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