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Seniors Give Advice To Incoming Freshman

What’s up, Class of 2027?

Our seniors here at Onward State are feeling senile as they approach their final semesters at Penn State and wanted to impart their wisdom on you ahead of some of the best years of your life.

Now that you’ve had a few days to settle in, check out your classes, get lost a few times, and maybe even try some dining halls specialties, here’s the good stuff from the people who’ve lived the Penn State way the longest.

Haylee Yocum: Enjoy Every Moment

I cannot believe I am addressing the Class of 2027 as a senior when it seems like yesterday I was a freshman. To all of our new Nittany Lions, I have two pieces of advice for you. Firstly, remember that your academics are important. They’re what you (or your parents) are paying for you to do here, after all. In the same breath, don’t let the exams and homework assignments conquer your life. Figure out how to balance schoolwork with relaxation so that you can avoid burnout before October. My tip for this is to create a cutoff time in the evening when you put all of the school supplies away for the night.

Secondly, drown out the noise of the 40,000 other students on this campus. Just because your roommate heads to frat row three times a week doesn’t mean you have to join her. If an organization as big as THON isn’t your thing, take a stroll around the Involvement Fair to find some of the other service organizations on campus. At the end of these four years, you want to look back on what you did and know that you enjoyed it — not that you did it because you thought you had to.

Most of all, enjoy every moment. Even the bad ones. You’ll never have a time like this in your life again.

Brady Miller: Work Hard & Play Hard

It might sound cliché, but the best advice I can give is “work hard, play hard.” For most of you, this is probably your first time away from home and the most freedom you’ve ever had in your life. It’s important to find the medium between working hard and having fun. There will be plenty of time to have fun here at Penn State, but don’t forget the main reason you’re here.

With that being said, have fun! Make as many friends and memories as possible. Some of my greatest college memories are from freshman year when I had nothing to do. Understand the importance of being focused and working hard, but don’t forget to go out with your friends sometimes and give yourself a break.

Rico Gore: Meet The People Next To You In Class. Every Semester.

I know you’re tired. Everyone is dead quiet. Trust me though, everyone around you is just waiting on you to say something to them. Be the person who speaks first. Put yourself out there and introduce yourself to the people you sit down next to in class. This is especially important in those classes that are in an actual classroom. If you are in a giant lecture hall, there’s no point, in my opinion. You probably won’t always sit next to the same people in the big lecture halls like Forum or Thomas.

However, whenever you chose your seat on the first day in those other classes, that’s most likely where you will sit for the rest of the semester. So, introduce yourself. Get comfortable with your neighbors because you’re going to see them multiple days a week. It will make the class much more enjoyable. Personally, I have met some pretty good friends by just introducing myself in class. What is the worst that could happen? Don’t be a dweeb. Say hi.

Megan Dougherty: Get Involved On Campus

The best advice I can give is to get involved. I know, every professor and parent has probably practically hammered this into your head by now. Penn State is a huge school, and it can be really easy to feel alone in the world here if you don’t find a community to cling to. If my mom hadn’t pushed me to apply for Onward State during my sophomore year, I have no idea what I’d be doing with my free time now.

Whether it’s a student organization or just whatever random club looks interesting at the Involvement Fair, put yourself out there. Friends will come on their own, too, but there’s no harm in being proactive about being a Penn Stater.

Gracie Mullan: You Don’t Have To Be Best Friends With Your Roommates

You may have heard that your first-year roommates will be your closest friends or that your roommates throughout college will be your closest friends. This isn’t always true. Having roommates and living with strangers is difficult, but also a necessary experience during college. You may end up being closest to your roommates, and you may not. Either way, it is OK.

I had a terrible experience with my junior year roommates, and I felt so alone during the year. I felt like no one really understood how it felt to live on eggshells in your own home. I soon learned that many others at Penn State have felt the way I have, and I found solace in my friendships. I found other ways to spend time with friends outside of my apartment, too, which made my junior year fulfilling. What’s most important is to be yourself and be kind, even if your roommates don’t end up being the best match. It will be OK in the end.

Lizzie Palmieri: Listen To Your Little Voice

Coming to campus as a freshman, there are so many unknowns and paths to be navigated. While learning beyond the classroom is a beautiful thing, there’s no doubt that one could easily be swept up by the excitement and newness of the college world.

Giving big kudos to Mama P on this one, this lesson has taken me far, yet kept me on track. When out on your own for the first time and faced with both big and little decisions, it’s critical to trust your instincts, go with your gut, and listen to your little, internal voice. These next four years will bring highs, lows, and everything in between, but staying true to yourself is the best way to end up exactly where you belong.

Megan Kelby: It’s Not That Serious

The sooner you realize that no one really cares what you’re doing, a whole new door opens. As blunt as that sounds, it’s true. No one is as worried about you as you are, and if they are, then they’re just weird.

Since everyone is mainly focused on themselves freshman year (especially during the first few weeks of school), walking into the wrong class, eating alone at the dining hall, tripping up the steps by HUB Deck, or literally anything else you think is embarrassing isn’t even on anyone’s radar. You do you, and make the most of having a fresh start.

Sarah Lynn DeCarlo: Get Involved (Again)

As my freshman year was limited due to COVID-19 in 2021, I️ wish I️ had this advice when I️ was a freshman. I️ know everyone says to get involved but get involved. Apply for clubs or organizations on a whim if you’re debating. Upperclassmen aren’t scary, and we want to strive within our clubs and organizations and that can only be done with you.

Apply and join because you never know what will come out of it. Make friends in your classes because you will be seeing them as your class sizes get smaller. Make the most of your four years and don’t miss out on any opportunities because making connections and expanding your horizons is the best thing you can do. Do as much as you can. Do what you are not comfortable with. Branch out from high school friends.

Nina Jeffries: Don’t Be Afraid To Try New Things And Take Risks

My freshman year was very different than the majority of my friends here at Penn State. When I started college as a branch campus student at Penn State Fayette in the height of COVID-19 in 2020, I struggled my first semester with feeling connected to Penn State. My peer mentor Julia Crucio introduced me to THON, which led me to become very involved on campus. I was able to make my mark and help found the Roaring Lion Newspaper at Fayette.

When I transferred to University Park in the Spring of 2022, I again felt that same struggle because I was not only out of my element, but I just had recently changed my major. Again, I decided to find organizations to get involved with and here I am today, writing for Onward State and involved with many other organizations on campus.

The moral of my little story is that it’s good to take risks. If you’re an introverted person, try to step out of your comfort zone and take a risk because if I never seized the opportunities given to me, I probably wouldn’t be writing this right now. These are your four years. Live life to the fullest and make the most out of it.

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About the Author


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