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Seniors Provide Advice For Incoming Freshmen

Penn State’s Class of 2026 has just a few more days left to send in their deposits, and with that, thousands of current high school seniors are on the brink of the next chapter of their lives.

Of course, thousands of Penn State seniors are about to close a chapter, too. As graduation rapidly approaches, Onward State’s seniors are here to provide some advice for incoming freshmen who might need some guidance as their college careers get underway. Hopefully, we’ll help the next generation of Penn Staters make the most of their time in Happy Valley.

Michael Tauriello

Typically, the expression is “try everything once,” though there are some ways to take that too literally. So, I am telling you to instead try most things once. What do I mean? Well, I went to the spring semester involvement fair in 2019 as a wide-eyed second-semester freshman. I was looking to get more involved in anything and everything, and I fondly look back at it as one of the most interesting days of college.

Everyone packing into Alumni Hall in the HUB sharing what they are passionate about with people that don’t know much about the subject is a pretty beautiful thing that Penn State offers. Take advantage of that — it’s the gateway to broadening your horizons. Don’t be afraid to put your name on a mailing list. I’m still on the Coffee Club mailing list, and I’ve never had a drop of coffee. Maybe that contradicts my point, but I did say most things, didn’t I? At the end of the day, I still decided I wanted to learn about coffee.

Just don’t be afraid to pick up something completely different than what you’d normally go for. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll be the start of an adventure you’ll remember long after your four years are over.

Erin Sullivan

Put your blinders on when it comes to comparing yourself to others. Everyone comes to college with a different story and will leave with the exact same. Don’t compare yourself to the guy behind you in your chemistry lecture telling the people around him loudly that he started studying for the exam three weeks before. Don’t compare yourself to the girl who asks everyone at office hours what they got on the exam just so she can tell you her score. Don’t compare yourself to the guy in your dining hall that eats with his mouth open just so he can get words in about the crazy party he went to at Delta who fuckin’ cares Theta Chi Phi Pie.

There will be a lot of people dealing with their own insecurities, among other things, and will use other people to make themselves feel better in the strangest ways. You need to worry about yourself and your own personal progress as a student and person. Create a culture that doesn’t make everyone else around you miserable. You can be competitive, just with yourself.

Sarah Sacker

I expected to be completely overwhelmed by how big this school is. But in reality, it’s as big as you make it. College is about figuring out what major you want, finding the people you fit in with, and deciding the career you want to pursue…all while just having fun. You will find your group at Penn State as long as you try. Everyone is coming into the same situation you are in, so embrace it!

Going into college, we think we know what we want for ourselves, and maybe some of us do. Still, it’s okay if you don’t. I came into college wanting to pursue a medical degree and ultimately found it was not the right choice for me. You need to find what you love by putting yourself out there and figuring it out for yourself. So, go join clubs, get involved in activities you love, join that IM team with random kids on your freshman year floor, and figure out life for yourself. College is the best place for it, and it’ll happen eventually.

Penn State is an amazing school and community for a lot of people. Don’t rush through your college experience. It’ll be over before you know it.

Ryen Gailey

Savor every single moment. Soon, you’re going to blink and all of those Sunday morning brunches with your friends in the commons are going to be a thing of the past. Each and every year of college brings about unexpected challenges but also an immense amount of fun.

Dance like nobody’s watching. Genuinely, some of my best memories from college come from singing and dancing at bars (shoutout Brew) or parties with my friends until 2 a.m. and cherishing the time we’ve had together. College flies by in the blink of an eye. Don’t miss it!

Hope Damato

Drink your water. Never miss a party. Hold off graduating as long as you can.

Mackenzie Cullen

Be present. I know that sounds so simple, but college flies by — especially when you throw a pandemic into the mix. It’s not always easy, but don’t wish your life away. You’ll miss out on so many memorable moments.

Sam Brungo

Take your time, and be good to others.

Caitlin Burns

Seize every opportunity. I think taking part in as many experiences in college as possible is so important. Apply for a THON committee. Look around at the hundreds of club options. Talk to people in your classes. Apply for all the internships. You never know when something is going to come along and change your experience and take those opportunities away, whether it be a pandemic or something else. It’s important to be involved and seize opportunities so you can make the most out of your time in college.

Matt DiSanto

I came to Penn State as an anxious wreck who was worried about “finding the right people” and fitting in. Of course, in reality, all of that takes care of itself. You’ll meet some amazing people at Penn State and likely do some even more amazing things. The thing is, you can’t force it. So, take things one day at a time, do what you love, and let everything else fall into place. Even with a pandemic getting in the way, these years will go by quickly. Soak it all in while you can and never take anything for granted.

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About the Author


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