10 Things I Wish I Knew as a Freshman

Photo from transportation.psu.edu

College life is one big learning curve; you learn what works and what doesn’t. VALLEY wants to let you in a few little secrets, some specific to Penn State, that we wish we knew when we were freshmen.

1. Your friends from freshman year may not be your friends forever. But that’s OK!

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For many students, your first friends at college are the people living on your floor. They’re always around to grab food from the dining hall or let you borrow their vacuum. However, as people get more involved with their own things on campus such as clubs, jobs, greek life, sports, etc., you may find yourself drifting from those friends. In the beginning, everyone is looking for as many friends as possible as they get comfortable with their new life, but over time you’re going to want to surround yourself with people you truly care about and click well with. You’ll always remember your first college friends, don’t worry.

2. CATA buses in the winter are never a good idea

Everyone, and we mean everyone, wants to take the White Loop (Whoop) or the Blue Loop (Bloop) when it’s below 20 degrees and the snow is piling up. This leads to buses being so darn packed with students that they won’t even pull over and try to let you on. It’s a real slap in the frozen face. Even when they do stop, precious minutes are wasted at each stop when you have toto the driver yell, “move to the back!” or “you have to be behind the yellow line.” Instead, bundle up and make the trek from East Halls because we bet you’ll be sweating by the time you get to class.

3. Don’t leave studying for the night before

This study tactic may have worked for you in high school, but college exams are in a realm of their own. You may see a lot of your peers pulling all-nighters at the library, but this can be avoided. Of course it’s easier said than done, but if you set a little bit of time aside each day for a week leading up to your exam to study, you’re going to be a lot less stressed and will actually know the information better than if you just memorize it the day before.

4. No one is having as much fun as they make it seem on social media

Whether it’s your best friend from home or that kid from high school you don’t talk to but still follow on social media, they’re going to be posting a lot when they first get to school. It almost turns into a competition of “who can look like they’re having the most fun through the lens of an iPhone.” In reality, everyone is just trying to make sense of their new lives away from home. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve chosen to spend a night in to relax with some friends and it suddenly seems like everyone you follow on Snapchat is having the time of their lives at some frat party. They probably aren’t.

5. Always carry an umbrella

During your time at Penn State, you’ll come to learn that it rains a lot in Happy Valley. It’s not necessarily torrential downpour 24/7 but rather random bouts of rain that will get you right in between classes. So to make your life a little bit easier, always carry an umbrella in your backpack, just in case.

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6. Go to class and actually listen

What sounds like such a simple task can become your worst nightmare. College offers you a new sense of freedom where your parents won’t get a phone call if you don’t show up to class one day. It’s your responsibility to get there, pay attention and learn the material the professors teach. You will probably receive participation points just for showing up and using your iClicker. Likewise, professors will often hint at important topics to focus on while studying during the lecture so try to stay awake!

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7. Make time to meet with your professors at the beginning of the year

Even if your class is in Thomas 100, your professor will appreciate you reaching out by stopping at their office hours. If they see that you put in the effort early in the semester, they’ll probably be more willing to help you. In some instances, they could round up your final grade if you’re lucky.

8. Plan a good time to do laundry

Make a schedule for when you’re going to do laundry because before you know it, you’ll be all out of clean underwear. Just don’t schedule laundry day for Sunday evening because that’s most likely when your entire building will also be trying to do laundry. Save yourself the headache and stress and wait until Monday. Or even better, get it done Friday after class before your weekend even begins so you don’t have to worry about it.

9. Make at least one friend in each of your classes

You should introduce yourself to someone sitting nearby and offer to exchange numbers just in case you have a question. Being friendly with someone in class can also make you look forward to going. Not to mention you will have a study buddy for when midterms come around.

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10. Don’t spend all your meal points at the market

Sometimes during your late-night studies in the commons, you’re definitely going to make a trip to the market. But beware, your meal points will disappear. When you shop at the market, you don’t get the 60% off that you get with the campus meal plan, unfortunately.


10 Things I Learned from Freshman Year at Penn State

An Open Letter to My Freshman Year Self

Dear Incoming Freshman

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