Accepted your Offer? Time to Pick Housing!

As an incoming student, one of the biggest concerns is housing. It is the first time many students will be living on their own in a new place. Luckily, Penn State has a ton of great housing options to make you feel right at home!

A traditional style dorm in East!

East – This is a very popular option among first-year students as it is the only part of campus completely occupied by first-year students. East offers a traditional living experience with double dorms and communal bathrooms located on each floor. The dining commons were recently updated, and now boast a new salad bar, deli, and sushi place! Many first-year students prefer the atmosphere of east and comfort of living among their peers. East is located near Beaver Stadium and the BJC – perfect for football games, concerts, and THON.

West – West is filled with brick buildings and boasts a traditional collegiate feel. West is conveniently located near many classroom buildings, the library and Rec Hall (gym). West dorms are traditional style. Many claim that West dining commons bake the best cookies on campus!

Pollock Commons has lots of great food options!

Pollock – Pollock is another popular option among first and second year students. Pollock is conveniently located near the White Building (gym), many classroom buildings, and is not far from downtown. Pollock has a very good dining commons and computer lab. Within Pollock Commons is The Mix which is an extremely popular to-go restaurant!

South – Much of South has been recently renovated. South dining commons offer a lot of different options from sushi to Italian. South is popular due to its close proximity to downtown amenities, such as shopping and restaurants. South also houses all sororities. While it is not common for many first-year students to live in South during the regular academic year, many students are housed in South during the summer session.

Redifer Commons located in South has up to ten different dining options!

Nittany Apartments – Nittany Apartments give students the ability to live in an apartment while on campus. Each apartment has its own bathroom and kitchen. Nittany apartments are typically reserved for upperclassmen and athletes.

Eastview Terrace – Do you need your own space? Eastview Terrace is the perfect option for you! Eastview Terrace is filled with single dorms. All of the dorms are comprised of a bed, dresser, desk, and private bathroom. Every floor also has a common area and study space!



Each student gets a generous size closet within the suite!

North – North is another area of campus conveniently located near many classroom buildings, such as the Business building. North is suite style which many students prefer. All of the suites have their own bathroom, which are cleaned by housing. Another perk of North is that the suites are air conditioned – perfect on those August nights!

No matter where you choose to live remember that you will always be surrounded by tons of Penn State students, and have access to RAs who are always willing to help!

Top five coolest buildings at Penn State

It’s no secret that there are a lot of buildings on Penn State’s campus. With 7,343 acres and 947 buildings at University Park, there’s no shortage of cool places on campus to eat, hang out, and study. Here are just a few of my favorites:

Bio-Behavioral Health (BBH) and Health and Human Development (HHD) Buildings

The Bio-Behavioral Health Building (foreground) and the Health and Human Development Building (background) offer sunny, quiet spaces to hang out and study.

Inside of the HHD Building

Staircase in the atrium of the BBH Building.

Since these buildings were designed to look almost exactly alike, it’s fair to include them together. These buildings are some of the newest on campus; the BBH building was constructed in 2013, while renovations on the HHD building were completed in 2015. Personally, the HHD building is my favorite study spot on campus; it’s always quiet, and large windows provide views of College Avenue that are perfect for people watching. That’s not to say that the BBH building can’t hold its own in the views department; sunny days are perfect for watching people play frisbee on the HUB Lawn. On the inside, lounge chairs, tables, and a quiet atmosphere make focusing on work easy in both buildings.

Business Building

Atrium of the Business Building.

View from the third floor, overlooking the Aboretum.

Bird’s-eye view of the atrium.

While not the most creatively named building on campus, the Business Building is certainly up there as one of the coolest. Home to the Smeal College of Business, this building is always full of students studying, clubs advertising events, and advisers helping students find jobs and internships. It’s also home to Blue Chip Bistro, in case you get hungry between classes or just need a study break. The atrium also features a stock market ticker!

Westgate Building

Outside of the Westgate Building.

Study area.

View of students studying over Atherton Street.

Formerly known as the Information Services and Technology (IST) Building, in 2017 this building was renamed the Westgate Building. Home to IST and Security and Risk Analysis (SRA) majors, this is definitely one of the largest buildings on campus. One of the coolest things about this building is the fact that it serves as a bridge over busy Atherton Street- nothing motivates you to study quite like sitting on top of 45 m.p.h. traffic!

Stuckeman Family Building

Outside of the Stuckeman.

Student work lines the walls on the ground floor.

A gallery showcases different student work throughout the year.

Home to the Stuckeman School for architecture, landscape architecture, and graphic design students, the Stuckeman Family Building is striking both inside and out. The green copper exterior makes it unlike any other building on campus, as does the work that goes on inside of the building. The ground floor is home to showcases of student’s work, from graphic design posters to 3-D architectural renderings. Upper levels of the building have studios for students to work on projects in. Though it may be tucked away on the north side of campus, those who know about the Stuckeman Building fall in love with its uniqueness.

Old Main

View of Old Main from its lawn on a fall afternoon.

View right after walking in the front doors, featuring the famous Land Grant Frescoes.

Upstairs hallway of Old Main.

Upstairs sitting area (open to the public!)

Up-close view of the clock tower at night.

No list of cool buildings at Penn State is complete without mentioning the most iconic building on campus: Old Main. Built and rebuilt throughout the years, Old Main as we know it today was built in the 1930s and at one point included a student lounge and sandwich shop. While today it is home to Penn State’s administrative offices, the building is still open to the public, who are welcome to come see the Land Grant Frescoes that were painted in the early 1940s.

Those Other Classes

Penn State offers over 160 majors. How awesome is that? With this wide variety of choices, there certainly is a great fit for everyone. But what about those other classes students have to take that are not in their field or related to their major? What kind of options does Penn State have for these classes?

“Those other classes” are referred to as “General Education” or “Gen Ed” classes. These include your general arts, sciences, and humanities. Some students do not like these courses, but there is no excuse for that! Penn State offers so many unique options that can enhance your learning experiences and provide you with new and interesting classes! There is even a whole website dedicated just for researching which classes are available!  Let us take a look at a few of these classes, with insight from two professors and a student!

ASTRO 001: Astronomy and Astrophysics

A perfect class for those non-science majors with an interest in Astronomy! There is so much to learn about Astronomy and the universe, so why not spend a semester of your college career learning some basics? This class discusses everything from lights and atoms to the Milky Way! It is an introductory course and only requires basic mathematics skills, allowing students of all majors to have an ability to take it. It is three credits, and covers a general education, natural science credit!

Professor Jane Charlton teaches a section of this course using a video game her and her colleagues have written! Professor Charlton’s favorite part of teaching Astro 001 is when students become “so much caught up in the story of our video game that they forget they are doing their homework”. Imagine taking a class that is so enjoyable, you forget you are actually doing homework…

On top of that, Professor Charlton added that students should take Astro 001 not only to satisfy their Gen Ed requirement with a reasonable workload, but to “gain perspective on the meaning of their existence and their place in the Universe”.

KINES 011: Beginner Downhill Skiing

The amount of gen ed health/gym classes available is incredible. There are so many different interesting offerings that a whole blog post could be written on just those classes. From fly fishing, to ice skating, to introduction to different team sports you may not typically play (handball, pickleball, other “court sports”) Penn State offers a fantastic amount of activities.

I chose to highlight “Beginner Downhill Skiing” because it is one of the most unique courses. Laura Gilham, with help of many Teaching Assistants nationally certified through the Professional Ski Instructors of America, instructs the course. Laura stated that “on-snow class sizes” are kept small to “optimize learning and keep it fun”. She also added, “You can’t learn if you can’t have fun”.

When asked why students should take Beginner Downhill Skiing as their GHA, she said “It’s a great way to get out and have fun in the winter time!” along with “There’s more to winter than the frigid walks across campus.” If you want something to look forward to in the winter, this class may be for you!

While choosing your general healthy and physical activity requirements (GHAs), be sure to take advantage of the unique offerings Penn State provides! Each is typically worth 1.5 credits and three are needed, so choose your top two favorite!

INART005: Integrative Arts- Performing Arts

Rolling with the idea of taking classes you may not have the opportunity to take again, explore all of the art options! GA or “General Art” education classes are part of graduation requirements, so find a fit that is quality for you to take!

Junior MIS Major George Slater took the class INART 005 during his Sophomore year to meet this requirement, and provided some insight on the course.

George said that students attend plays at theaters on campus or downtown in the evenings. Students must attend 7 plays out of a possible 10 during the semester and write reviews on them. The plays are typically offered Monday-Thursday.

George stated about the class, “I actually enjoyed having the opportunity to take this course and see plays I never would have attended if it were not for taking this class. I would definitely recommend it to students looking for an enjoyable Gen Ed Art to take!”

As this is my first semester at University Park, I have not had a full opportunity yet to explore all these different course options. I am excited to be able to schedule my last three semesters with so many diverse courses in mind and would encourage all students to invest time into finding classes they will find interesting! Remember, there is no excuse to only like the classes in your major, those other classes can be just as entertaining!

Student Engagement Space helps students find opportunities

Penn State is a big school that offers countless opportunities to join clubs, study abroad, and complete internships. But with so many options, it can be hard to dig through and find the best programs for you. Enter the Student Engagement Center, which just opened its physical space (appropriately called the Student Engagement Space) right in the middle of the HUB on campus.

Mike Zeman, the director of the Student Engagement Network at Penn State, is in charge of making sure the Engagement Space is achieving its mission of helping students find experiences that will help them make the most of their time at the University.

“There’s a consensus that engagement, especially at Penn State, is moving towards not just the big-box classroom, GPA, credit-based degree,” Zeman said when I sat down to talk to him about what he referred to as “the Space.”

The new Student Engagement Space, located in the middle of campus in the HUB-Robeson Center, helps students find clubs, internships, and study abroad opportunities at Penn State.

The Student Engagement Network has helped (and continues to help) students complete outside-of-classroom opportunities in part by giving out grants to students who wish to study abroad or conduct undergraduate research. However, since it’s not possible to give a grant to every student, the Space is here to serve as a central place where students can walk in, talk to an intern about their interests and goals, and be directed towards opportunities they can pursue.

In addition to the building of the physical Engagement Space, Zeman recently put in a proposal for an online Portal that he described as “something similar to Amazon,” where students can search for opportunities that exist both on and off campus.

“We’ve been talking about [the online portal] being built using input from students in the [physical] Space,” Zeman said.

Zeman went on to explain how an online portal would work.

“Your personal preferences that you opt in to enter, your career interests, your personal interests, your courses, your course history, your history of signing up for student clubs and organizations, [those will all] inform the equation that we use to guide you,” Zeman said.

In addition to being beneficial to students to find individual experiences, Zeman said the Space could also be used for clubs to reach out and work together with other organizations on projects and events. He described it as a kind of involvement fair that happens every day throughout the year.

“[Penn State] is a big place, but there are mechanisms that will make you feel right at home with your interests,” Zeman said.

For more information, visit

How to stay up-to-date at Penn State

When you get to college, it’s a good habit to start staying up-to-date with current events (if you don’t already). National news is important, but so are the issues and events impacting your local community. At Penn State, there is no shortage of ways to get your daily news. Check out a few!

Student-run outlets:

To get the scoop on all things Penn State, look no further than PSU’s many student-run media outlets. The Daily Collegian is Penn State’s official (and oldest–113 years running!) student newspaper, printing issues five days a week. Another favorite is Onward State, a student-run blog that while taking on a snarkier tone than most other outlets continues to be a great source for news, features and commentary. They also have the largest social media following of any college news source in the world! While The Daily Collegian and Onward State are the largest of the student-run outlets, they are by no means the only ones telling the stories of Penn State. Multicultural media site The Underground, Penn State’s life and style magazine Valley and the student-run tv station PSNtv can’t be missed! 


If you live on campus, you’re in luck! Penn State Housing provides 95 HD channels (and 120 SD channels) free, you just have to provide the TV. Watching the local news is a great way to learn more about the central Pennsylvania community, especially if you’re not from the area. Channels like CNN, Fox News and MSNBC are available for your national news fix as well!
Daily email newsletters:

If you’ve got five minutes in the morning, then you have time for an email newsletter. Daily newsletters like TheSkimm provide quick, digestible snippets of news that you can read on-the-go. With free newsletters like these, there’s no excuse not to be in the know! 

Old School:

Through the Penn State Student Newspaper Readership Program, students have free access to The Centre Daily Times (State College’s local paper), USAToday and the New York Times. Printed copies are available at multiple locations across campus, and students can also use their PSU credentials to access digital version of the papers was well!

This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the ways to get your news at Penn State, but it’s a great place to start! Get reading and watching and stay informed!

Staying healthy at Penn State: the freshman 15

If you’ve already begun your college search, chances are you’ve heard of the dreaded “freshman 15,” or the 15 pounds that first year students allegedly end up gaining as a result of adjusting to college life (and all you can eat dining halls).

Pizza GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

The good news is that the freshman “15” is actually a myth–according to studies on freshman weight gain, the average pound gain was actually 2.7 pounds. That being said, it can still be difficult to manage a healthy lifestyle while trying to juggle classes, clubs and friends. Here are some tips to help kickstart your college career career with healthy habits!

Start preparing now: It’s important to start developing healthy habits before you head off to school. For many freshmen, college is the first time they’ve been given total freedom over what and how much they eat. When faced with an all you care to eat dining hall (with an extensive selection of Berkey Creamery ice cream), it can be like a kid in a candy store. Learning portion control and what makes a balanced meal are life lessons that start now!

Eat your veggies: When mom’s not around to tell you to eat your vegetable, it’s up to you to maintain a balanced diet. In a dining hall full of unhealthy temptations, it can be hard to resist fried foods and desserts. One tip that worked for me–instead of getting all of your buffet food at once, start off with a salad or bowl of veggies. Fill up on the good stuff before heading back to grab a plate of chicken tenders. If you get into the habit of eating a salad with every meal, you’ll be in good shape!

The Office GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

Get healthy snacks: Stock up on some healthy dorm snacks! When I lived in the dorm, I always had a stash of cheese sticks, crackers, apples, yogurts and granola bars to either grab and go before class or eat for a late-night study snack. I personally didn’t have a lot of self control when it came to unhealthy snacks (chips are my weakness!), so I tried not to keep that stuff in my room. If I did, I tried to get pre-portioned packages–it’s a lot easier to resist opening second snack pack of chips than another handful out of the party-sized bag.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!: Be sure to bring a good reusable water bottle! Water stations are readily available in the dorms and around campus, making it easy to always have a drink available. If you’re thirsty, try to avoid drinking your calories–several trips to the soda machine in the dining hall can really rack up your calorie count!

Hit the gym: Campus fitness centers are now included in your student fee, so there’s no excuse not to hit the gym! If you’re new to the gym or don’t know how to get a good workout, grab a friend and go to a fitness class! Whether it’s yoga, circuit conditioning, washboard abs or power remix, there’s something for everyone.
Walk: The bus can be tempting, but you’d be surprised how much simply walking to class will up your step count for the day. I regularly walk 3-4 miles a day by walking to and around campus.

The biggest piece of advice I can give–all things in moderation. It’s fine to have a cheat day here and there, so long as you balance it out with healthy choices.


New Allergen-Free and Pure Kosher Dining Facility

Started August 22, every Penn State student can enjoy allergen-free and Kosher food facility, provided by the independent kitchen in East Dining Hall. I recently caught up with Lisa Wandel, Director of Residential Dining, and Brooke Jodon, Assistant Director of East Food District. They told me that Penn State dining facility would always be dedicated to bringing more diverse of foods for students, living on- and off- campus.

PURE station in EFD

The first concept is health. There are approximately 15 different options of food in the dining hall for Penn State students.All they need to do is simply swipe their student ID cards to get into the dining area. Every dining commons on campus provides vegetarian and gluten-free options. However, only East Food District offers Kosher-certified meals at a new station called PURE. Different from other dining halls, the kitchen will be under supervision of the Star-K Kosher Certification with Mashgiach Ronnie Berman, who “is the only one with a key to the kitchen,” said Lisa, “he opens and closes the station each day, turns on all equipment, inspects the food, and trains employees.”

The food provided by PURE station are free from 9 allergens: dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat/gluten, and sesame. Since it not only provides Kosher food but also allergens-free food, students have all sorts of allergies can get the healthy and “worry-free” food.

The rationale for starting PURE is to provide Kosher food for over a thousand of Jewish students on campus right now and for prospective Penn State students. For most of the time, Jewish students do not choose Penn State because they could not get Kosher food here in State College. What’s more, Jewish students are dropping their commitment with Kosher because they could hardly get any in Penn State, especially for living-on-campus students. Therefore, Lisa and her team conducted research among the Big 10 universities to learn from their experiences. At that time, EFD was undergoing retrofitting and a new independent kitchen was built for allergens-free food project, Lisa thought that it would be a great idea to combine Kosher with allergens-free food together.

PURE is a one-year test pilot program. Food Services staff will continuously monitor the performance of PURE. If it grows by the end of this academic year, the project will attract more students choosing to come to Penn State over other universities. However, Lisa mentioned that if PURE does not do as well as expected, EFD would change it to just allergens-free stations, continuing providing students with “worry-free” food choice.

*PURE is open for dinner from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, as well as brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays, and it is open to the entire community, including students, faculty, staff, Penn State families and guests.

New convenient store “Market East” in East Living Area

Another concept Lisa and Brooke mentioned during the interview was convenience. Not just PURE, Market East also provides fresh fruits, healthy snacks, Pennsylvania-based businesses, and commodities for East halls’ residents. Lisa told me that one of her goals is to constantly listen to feedback from students and make adjustments accordingly. There are around 4,000 students living in East housing and the Residence Life staff see an increasing needs of grocery shopping for on-campus students. Compared to other housing areas, East is relatively far from downtown, which brings students difficulty in grocery shopping. Hence, the Residential management expanded the convenient store, making it larger and providing additional freezers, more beverage coolers, and more necessities.

Fresh produce provided by Market East

Now, students can get quality groceries inside of the East Housing Area, making life more convenient for students. What’s more, “students are looking for healthier choices, such as fresh produce students can keep in their micro-fridges and heat up in their microwaves. We’re proud to offer a wide variety of grab-and-go items and healthier food options, ” said Brooke.

Personal Thought

It has been a few years since I lived on-campus. I am very impressed by the huge changes in the dining hall. At the end of the tour, I tried the dairy-free salted caramel flavored ice cream, made with chickpea juice, made by PURE station. It was very tasty. For a dairy-free ice cream, it was the best taste I had. What’s more, residential management team is really putting efforts in considering students from all different backgrounds. After having a tour in EFD, I feel excited about the future of on-campus dining.

Life as a Nittany Lion

You may be wondering “What is a typical day as a Penn State student like?” Trust me when I say there is no simple answer to that question. The fact that there is no simple answer, however, is wonderful. It displays the fact that there is something new going on at Penn State every day, for every person. With over 40,000 students attending class, working, and participating in over 1,000 student-run organizations, no two Penn State share the exact same day.

That being said, let me give you a look at the events from my day on Thursday, October 5th as a Junior, Marketing major at University Park!


My day starts around 8:45 am when I wake up in my residence hall located in Eastview Terrace. On Thursdays, my first class does not start until 10:35, so I have plenty of time to wake up and get breakfast before class. There are a number of different dining commons to go to on campus before my classes. However, I usually like to make a stop at the Berkey Creamery, conveniently located close to the Business Building, and stop for some coffee. I know what you are thinking, why is this guy going to the Creamery for his coffee? Why does he not just get ice cream for breakfast? Believe me, it is tempting to get ice cream for breakfast, but the Creamery also features some fantastic coffee options to help get your day going.


My first class is Marketing 342, or “Marketing Research”, which is a mandatory class for all Marketing majors. There are around 40 students in this class, but it feels even smaller than that as we are currently working on group projects. My group is actually working on a project related to the Creamery!


Marketing Research ends at 11:50, the perfect time to take a walk to the HUB for lunch. Unfortunately, I am not the only one who goes to get lunch at this time. The HUB is in the center of campus and features some of the best meal options on campus. Chic Fil A, Panda Express, Burger King, and McAlister’s Deli are some of the most popular places to make a stop for lunch. I usually meet my friend George every Thursday and get lunch with him, as we both have class together after. It is not unusual that while eating lunch in the HUB, George and I will see people we know pass by us. This common occurrence is one of my favorite parts of this campus. While there may be 40,000 students here, you will almost always see someone you know unintentionally throughout the day. It is part of what makes this large campus feel so close knit.


After lunch, George and I head over to BA342, a business ethics class mandatory for all business majors. This class, located in the Thomas Building near the middle of campus, is in a large auditorium style room that can hold over 500 students. While this may seem quite intimidating at first, you would be surprised how many people you end up knowing in these large classes. Once you find some friends to sit with, you feel more comfortable and confident despite the class size. On top of that, you always have people who can help you study for exams!


BA342 runs from 1:35 – 2:50. When this class ends, I usually head back to my room or find somewhere to do homework! There are a number of different areas on campus to get some homework done. From computer labs in Redifer Commons or the Pollock Building, to study rooms in residence halls, there is a spot for everyone!


Later in the afternoon, I typically get dinner in either Redifer Commons or Pollock Commons. Both of these dining halls offer all-you-care-to-eat options, which use meal points then allow you the opportunity to eat as much as you would like! Redifer Commons also offers other options such as pizza, burgers, chicken tenders, sandwiches, sushi, and my personal favorite, Mexican food; specifically, the walking tacos. If you ever take a tour of University Park and eat in Redifer, trying the walking tacos from “Fresco Caliente” and you will not be disappointed.


From there the rest of my night varies on what club events are going on and what homework I have! Penn State is constantly buzzing with activities, allowing each day a chance to be eventful and exciting! Thank you for following along through one of my days!


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