Thursday, September 1, 2011

So Many Clubs, So Little Time...

It wasn't long after I chose Penn State University that I started looking through the *huge* list of clubs and organizations. Every activity, interest, belief, and hobby is represented in some for or another.

Like acting? There's a club for that.
Ham Radio? There's a club for that.
Economic theory? There's a club for that.
Model Railroading? There's a club for that.

Seriously, if you have an interest and a desire to share it with others, the famously huge number of PSU clubs and organizations has something to offer. However, a lot have certain time commitments, which leads me to my point.

Opportunity is funny. Some people come to college and, shocked by the sudden freedom, drink themselves into a coma. Others slack off all day playing video games.

The healthy route is to find a couple clubs that you can dedicate decent amounts of time too. Find your main interests (say, chess, musicals, robots, and singing) and stick with those clubs (Chess Team, Thespians, Robotics Club, and ). Preferably, the clubs offer chances for volunteering in some form. Given the amazingly generous students at Penn State, this shouldn't be a problem.

As a Freshman, your main goal with clubs will be to get to know others who share your interests, as well as continue doing the activities you enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Responsibility in College

I hear the groans already. "Responsibility?'re boring us." What if I told you that its not as bad as you think?

I'm sitting in Findlay Commons in East Halls right now because I, for what probably won't be the only time, forgot my room key on my my room...yeah. So now I'm waiting on Nick to get out of his Harry Potter club meeting to get in.

This raises an interesting point. Too often are high schoolers told of the immense difficulty of college. "You'll do your own laundry! You'll decide when and where to eat! You'll need to remember to brush your teeth!" What you're never told is that although you *do* have to take responsibility for yourself, there's a much larger support network than you're used to.

First, there's your roommate. He (or she, I guys [girls] don't care about political correctness, right?) could be your best friend or your worst enemy. If it's the latter, then there's not much I can do. But even if the two of you are indifferent to one another, he'll be able to bail you out of little things (like forgotten keys), or even just be there when you need to vent or bounce ideas off someone.

Next, there's your parents. You know how they (and you) will cry when they leave? The emotions last. Not so much in that everyone is sad all the time, but in that even though miles separate you, they still love you and will help you along. Need help with something academic? Perhaps you could contact an older sibling who has already learned the subject. Need more socks? Call Mom! Need food? Mom again! Punching bag? Little brother, hehehe...

And of course, there's the countless resources the university provides. Think about it. The more people that fail, the worse the university looks, and then the less money they get in the form of grants, donations, etc. That's just how society works. So they do themselves a favor and provide you with tutoring and office hours and TAs and study groups and recitations and community forums so that if you have a question, you could find help!

So yeah, you have to remember a lot more in college. There's more that needs to be accomplished in a day. But there's also more help available to you for when you need it. Now if only Nick would hurry up...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Places to Visit - #2

You're not a real Penn Stater until you have ice cream from the Berkey Creamery. My favorite? Good old fashioned chocolate...

Friday, August 26, 2011

The First Week

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..."

The first week of classes are often a time of uncertainty, as many experiences in college are. And with good reason! You have been told over and over, "College is a lot different! It's harder! Learning is a full time job!" etc. ad nauseum.

On the flip-side, you're not just thrust into a full on lecture on quantum-string theory and its implications in 4D spatial geometries.

First, you are in the classes you are in because the university feels that you have the ability to succeed. If you need to take a more basic chemistry course before you take a higher up one, they'll tell you and, if the situation warrants, bar you from going too far in over your head.

Second, the professors (who we'll cover in a later post) also understand that a significant percentage of their students are freshmen and new to the college atmosphere. They'll ease you into it.

I am fortunate enough to have *amazing* professors this semester. They are all passionate about their subject, fun to listen to, and in tune with the class mood. That's a huge plus.

Also worth noting is the fact that they'll spend the first class going over the syllabus and what to expect from the class.

*Important Note* Many refer to the first week of class as syllabus week. Although its true that the syllabus is the first thing most professors discuss, you *will* learn during the second, if not the first class! Don't get sloppy! In the words of a great professor, CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

The classes themselves will start out with a review of what you already know. Physics begins with a review of position, velocity, and acceleration, then proceeds into how they are related through derivatives. Calculus (depending on the teacher) will review the essentials of math and computation before easing into limits. Chemistry takes an "atoms first" approach by starting with protons, electrons, and neutrons and explaining how ions and isotopes are formed. Macroeconomics keeps in mind that many never learned economics, and starts with the laws of supply and demand.

So although it's a time of change and rethinking how you learn, realize that several thousand teenagers are also going through the same thing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Move In

One big question the incoming freshman may ask is, "What's move in like?"


Alternatively, trafficky (Totally a word).

Move in day (the Friday before class starts for out-of-state, Saturday for in-state) begins at 9. The cars arrive in swarms from all directions, causing massive congestion on the main roads. Once you actually get a spot (and there are *tons* of people helping you do just that) you get your key from the area commons and carry your stuff from the car to your room.

You then have pretty much until 4 o'clock to walk around campus, get your books, eat, and set up your room. Then its time for goodbyes.

Your floor will eat dinner together the first night (or nights, if you're out-of-state). Sounds fine on paper, but chances are the whole group will get separated pretty quickly, so focus on just sticking with your roommate and getting to know them. The sooner the better!

On Saturday night, you'll go to Convocation. The entire freshman class assembles in the Bryce Jordan Center (or BJC for you acronym-enthusiasts) to listen to the State College Mayor, student president, and President Graham Spanier welcome you to Penn State. Then you walk to the HUB for a carnival-type-thing...a lot of people blow it off, but it can't hurt to try.

Then Sunday's all yours, except for Be A Part from the Start at the Rec Hall that night. It's just a big pep rally meant to teach different cheers and songs to the freshmen. Plus, you get free stuff! Alright its just a poster, lanyard, and pencil...maybe a t-shirt if you can catch one...but still, free! :D

So that's move in. It's an emotional time for many, a confusing time for all, but also really fun if you let it be.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Places To Visit - #1

Of course, we must start with the obvious.

And so we go...


Post Duex

And this is the co-author Mario spoke of!

My name is Nick, and I am also a freshman at Penn State. I hope to join my friend Mario to bring the best and most information possible to help not only aspiring Penn State students, but also future college students get ready for their next few years leading into their life at PSU or another school of choice.

I will check in again soon!

And so we go...