It’s about that time again – the freshmen are moving in! I’ll never forget the whirlwind of emotions I experienced during my final days at home the summer before my freshman year. Like any soon-to-be college student, I was nervous, anxious, and of course excited.
The good news? I wasn’t the only one. I’m willing to argue that almost every freshman feels the same way. For that reason, I’ve compiled a list of 10 things that everything that freshmen should know going into their first year at Penn State.
- Meal points work at the Berkey Creamery. That’s right – the same points you use to dine on campus are also accepted at Creamery to buy ice cream. This can be dangerous for obvious reasons, so if your points are limited remember that Creamery ice cream is also available in the dining halls (limited flavors only).
- The scorching heat won’t last long. Most of the dorms (all of them if you’re in East) are not air conditioned, so naturally fans are a necessity. Just keep in mind you won’t be wearing shorts and flip-flops very long; the weather gets cold very quickly, sometimes as early as October.
- Housing for the following year (especially off-campus) fills up quickly – figure this out by November at the latest. Penn State only guarantees housing for your first year, so many students choose to move off-campus (aka downtown). This process is a headache so the sooner you get it done, the better!
- McLanahan’s has everything you will ever need. Seriously. From clothes and food to tech accessories and school supplies, they have it all. Always check there first before heading all the way to Walmart, and definitely try their deli sandwiches while you’re at it (they’re delicious and cheap).
- Get your psu.edu emails forwarded to your personal email account on your phone. This literally saved my life. Your professors will email you constantly, so it’s important to check your email multiple times a day. Getting your messages forwarded to your phone saves you the trouble of logging into webmail on your mobile browser. You can get help setting this up from any of the IT desks on campus, or just by researching it online.
- Download the CATA Bus App. The smartphone app lets you check when the loops are coming and how many of them are running. This can prevent you from waiting at the stops for prolonged periods of time.
- Get a mattress pad. The dorm beds are old and uncomfortable – it’s not worth the suffering, enough said.
- Set up a PNC account if you don’t have one already. PNC ATMs are located both on campus and downtown. If you have another account, other ATMs will be available, but they’ll have a surcharge. You’re now on a college budget – saving every dollar counts!
- Don’t buy your books from the student bookstore on campus. It’s overpriced and the lines are ridiculous. Order used books from Amazon or ebay, or rent books from Chegg. You can also purchase / rent / sell books at more reasonably priced bookstores downtown. You should probably also wait until after the first day of class before buying them so you can hear first hands from your professors which ones are required and which ones are optional.
- Get involved in THON. If you don’t get involved early in the year, you’ll regret it by the time THON comes around second semester. Joining a special interest organization like Atlas is the quickest and easiest way to do so, but if you want a more competitive option, you can apply and interview to be on a THON committee.
I could go on forever with advice, but I’ll leave it at this: keep an open mind going into your freshmen year. College is a time to start fresh, meet new people, and try new things. Four years may seem like a long time, but it goes by quickly. Enjoy your time and Happy Valley – WE ARE!