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Your Penn State Fall 2023 Freshman Syllabus

Happy Sylly Week, freshmen!

Congratulations. You made it to college. That means you’ve knocked quite a few accomplishments off your list, like graduating high school, attending New Student Orientation, scheduling your classes, saying goodbyes, deciding what “going-out tops” to bring to school, purchasing a set of twin XL sheets, and maybe breaking up with your high school significant other.

Now that you’ve arrived and already completed so many tasks, a whole new ballgame has just begun, so we put together a freshman syllabus to help you ace your first year at Dear Old State.

School Supplies:

  1. You’ll need a phone full of storage to download the many apps necessary to survive your first year. Check out our guide to every important app you’ll need.
  2. In the humid August heat, you’re going to want an emotional support water bottle. There’s no reason to waste your hard-earned LionCash dollars on whatever “LIFEWTR” is, so dust off that old Hydroflask you got for Christmas your sophomore year of high school. There are plenty of water fountains around campus to utilize.
  3. You won’t get far on campus without your id+ card. Invest in a phone wallet to ensure you’re never leaving home without your student ID, and you’ll have no problem getting back into your dorm. For more insurance, students can now access id+ features digitally on iPhones, Apple Watches, or Androids.
  4. If you’re a Google kid, we’re sorry. Penn State is a Microsoft campus, meaning it takes advantage of software like Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, and Teams. Just take a few hours and learn the systems. We’ve all been there.


  1. Remember to leave the Penn State Lululemon belt bag at home when you’re attending events at Beaver Stadium or the Bryce Jordan Center. You will get turned away if you’re carrying one. There’s nothing worse than the walk of shame back to the tailgate, so just purchase the clear bag.
  2. Take advantage of the incredible athletic teams scattered around Happy Valley. The dominance of Penn State women’s volleyball, wrestling, soccer, field hockey, hockey, and more is out of this world. Don’t let the Penn State football hype distract from the additional glory within Athletics.
  3. Always ask about a student discount. The worst response you could get is “no.” This goes for shopping downtown, online, and that Spotify discount we all know and love. Make sure you remember to renew your subscription each year!
  4. It’s never too early to chat about next year’s housing situation. If you’re vibing with your roommate, start the conversation. Leases come and go faster than you think.

Locations to Note:

  1. Are you an early riser? Maybe you decided to skip the Lion’s Den and hit the hay early Friday night. If so, you’ll discover that the dining halls open a little later on weekends. Despite this, it’s the perfect opportunity to check out the State College breakfast scene. If you’re searching for breakfast classics to right all of the wrongs from the previous night, swing by the Waffle Shop, Oeuf Boeuf Et Bacon, or Irving’s.
  2. When it’s time to get some space from your roommate and prepare for your first college midterm, head to the Pattee Library’s “Harry Potter Room.” Directly up the stairs from the library’s entrance facing the Pattee Mall, sits the student-dubbed Harry Potter room. With lots of natural light, high ceilings, and sweet, sweet silence, the New York Library-inspired room will be your sanctuary when you need to lock in like never before.
  3. Every few weeks, it’s easy to feel hyper-aware that you’re in a college town with 40,000 students. When you need a reminder that life exists outside of State College, head to the Huck Life Sciences bridge that connects the Huck Life Science Building to the Chemistry Building. It offers a fantastic view of the mountains (the outside world) and equally fantastic furniture. It’s also a great spot for people-watching.
  4. It’s imperative that freshmen living in East Halls take advantage of their proximity to the Arboretum. You’ll probably never live so close to the Arboretum again, so enjoy it while it’s in bloom. Grab a coffee at Saxby’s in the Business Building and wander around the scenic gardens to de-stress on a nice evening.

Required Texts: — Onward State is the premier student-run media outlet by Penn State students, for Penn State students. Onward State will keep you informed and hopefully make you laugh every once in a while.

@OnwardState on Twitter — See above.

@OnwardStSports on Twitter — Same thing here…but sports.

@THONwardState on Twitter — More of the same…but THON.

@PodwardState on Twitter — Onward State’s elite, student-run podcast featuring guests like Katie Feeney, Trace McSorley, Franco Harris, and more.

Student Readership Program — Don’t miss the opportunity to subscribe to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal for free. — Google kids, you’ll appreciate this one day. Through Penn State’s partnership with Adobe, students get free access to software like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, Lightroom, and many others.

Important Dates:

Wednesday, August 23: The Involvement Fair — If you’re nervous about finding your niche at a large school, the Involvement Fair is the place to go to explore all of the clubs and organizations Penn State has to offer. Join 10 GroupMe chats, connect with student leaders, and get a feel for the community of diverse students within University Park.

Saturday, September 2: Penn State football vs. West Virginia — Rest up, folks. Penn State football’s season opener against the Mountaineers will be an exciting one, so prepare for a long day of tailgating, glizzy gobbling, and “Mo Bamba.”

Sunday, September 3: Onward State Application Due Date — If you’re interested in writing, photography, videography, or graphic design, there’s no better student organization for you than Onward State.

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About the Author

Sabrina Knox

Second year from Pittsburgh majoring in Philosophy and English. Loves to sing, especially jazz, loves to ski and write poetry. Espresso enthusiast and lover of thrift stores. Will fight anyone who doesn't love the Penguins and the Steelers. Instagram: @sabrinaknox_ All inquiries must be sent via carrier pigeon or to [email protected] if you're boring.

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