We are excited to welcome Laurie Goodman as our newest parent blogger. Laurie’s son, Pete, is a rising sophomore at Penn State University Park and their family recently relocated from New Jersey to Chicago. In her first post, Laurie talks about some of the Penn State traditions she did not know about before Pete came to school here.
Having grown up in California, my knowledge of Penn State was basically zero, until my son applied for admission. As we accompanied him through the process of applying, enrolling, and going through freshman year, I felt like everybody else already knew all the Penn State customs, events and traditions. Every parent I met seemed to be an alumni…or had siblings or parents (or grandparents) who were alumni.
Here are a few things I was clueless about, but I soon figured out:
1. Wear your blue and white!
Walking down College Avenue for Parents & Families Weekend, it took us about five minutes to realize we stood out like sore thumbs: where was our blue and white apparel? Everywhere we looked, moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, even dogs, were wearing Penn State sweatshirts, hats, fleece, you name it! We quickly ducked into a shop and got some shirts … and immediately felt more at home.
2. Mark your calendar to get those student football tickets.
I didn’t realize we’d have to be ready to purchase season tickets in the first hour they went on sale. Luckily, a friend gave me a heads up and I raced home from my son’s high school graduation to place his order in the nick of time. He loved the energy and excitement of being in the student section for every game.
3. State College has it all.
Sure, it’s a college town, but it’s big. You can find literally everything you need – from dorm room basics to unique gifts to that all-important blue and white apparel, somewhere in town.
4. Make your reservations – any reservations – early.
To stay in State College for move-in, Parents & Families Weekend, or to attend a football game, you must make hotel reservations early. Luckily all the important dates are available on the calendar on the Penn State website, so you can plan ahead.
5. THON is a big deal. A really big deal.
It’s hard to describe the energy, emotion, camaraderie and shared sense of purpose that is THON. At first, I assumed it was “just another charity” for pediatric cancer and then got completely caught up as my son became involved with canning weekends (where students return to hometowns to raise funds, literally, in cans) and other events. THON itself is streamed live online so our family follows along all weekend. It’s amazing!
Those are just a few of the eye-opening experiences I went through last year. I still feel like there’s so much about Penn State that I don’t know. But I have to admit, it didn’t take long to start feeling more at home. One of these days I’ll even be able to hold my own with those alumni parents!
– Laurie Goodman