When I started looking at colleges about four years ago, there wasn’t any question in my mind that Penn State had great academics and career opportunities. Consistently ranked in the top 14 public universities by the U.S. News and World Report and top 50 universities worldwide, number 1 for corporate recruiting by the Wall Street Journal, and home to one of the top honors programs in the country with the Schreyer Honors College, I knew that I would be able to challenge myself by coming to Penn State. I visited a ton of schools with top notch academics, but they were all missing something– and that’s where Penn State won me over. I’ve never seen a university with so much pride and enthusiasm. On any given day, you walk throughout campus and see a sea of blue and white– everyone loves to show their spirit in their own way. At Penn State, I could have the best of both worlds. I could get an incredible education with the largest alumni network in the world, but also attend White Out football games with 107,000 of my best friends chanting Zombie Nation, or help families facing pediatric cancer have the best weekend of the year at the Penn State Dance Marathon (THON). If you decide to come to Penn State (or you’re already here!), you have so much to look forward to. Here are just a few of the traditions that you won’t want to miss out on in your first semester:
Take a photo with Penn State’s Lion Shrine
Undoubtedly one of the most photographed locations in Pennsylvania, the Lion Shrine is a staple for any Penn Stater’s collection of photographs. The tradition is to take a photo coming in as a freshman and then again with your cap and gown when you graduate (and probably a hundred other times in between!). There are also several stories and traditions surrounding this Class Gift of 1940, including Guard the Lion Shrine at Homecoming.
Go to a Penn State Football Game with your friends
It’s impossible to describe the student section of Beaver Stadium until you’ve experienced it. Be part of the S-Zone, participate in the cheers and chants, sing out to “Sweet Caroline,” watch the Drum Major do his legendary flip, toss girls in the air for every touchdown point Penn State gets, pass the Nittany Lion through the stands, and cherish all of the other traditions. Good times never seemed so good.
Hike Mount Nittany
I can honestly say that my only complaint about Penn State is how cold it gets in the winter, so take advantage of the beautiful weather in the early months and hike Mount Nittany while it’s still warm enough! Gather up a group of friends and make an adventure out of it. Even if you’re not the most outdoorsy person, it’s an amateur hike and something to cross off the PSU bucket list!
Show Your Pride During Penn State Homecoming
Whether you’re running in the Color Run, watching the famous Penn State Homecoming Parade (which is one of the largest in the country!), participating in the variety of spirit competitions, or just cheering on Penn State to beat Northwestern at the big game, Homecoming is an action packed week filled with tons of school spirit, Penn State families, and returning alumni.
Get Involved Early On
Penn State has an infinite number of ways to get involved on campus, and finding an organization that you’re truly passionate about and a great group of friends is a fantastic way to make a huge school feel a little bit smaller. The HUB holds an involvement fair during the first week of classes so that you can learn more about the different organizations on campus, from service and Greek Life, to THON, sports, religious groups, professional associations, music groups, and more.
Stand Up to Cancer During a THON Canning Weekend
THON is a yearlong fundraising effort for the fight against pediatric cancer which culminates in a 46-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon in February. And while the main festivities don’t happen until February, the fundraising season kicks off September 19th– THON never stops! Canning (or canister solicitation) is one of the popular fundraising methods, and it is allowed on three specific weekends per year. Thousand of volunteers go out up and down the east coast to raise funds and awareness for THON’s mission. Bust a move and show off your dance moves, wear your silliest costume, and put on your biggest smile to raise lots of money For The Kids!