The Office for Student Orientation and Transition Programs held an orientation session on April 12 for students who are getting ready to transfer up to University Park in the fall semester. This hour long session was led by the Director of Student Orientation and Transition Programs, Dan Murphy and the Associate director, DeAnn Martz.
This session was to help prepare students for what to expect in the fall and included tips for when it becomes time to transfer. Altoona students are already used to having to adapt to a new college lifestyle, but when transitioning to University Park it can bring on many more difficulties.
“You know what it means to be a college student, you know what it means to be a Penn State student, but University Park is going to be a little bit different so it’s not uncommon for our students to actually take about a semester to actually make it through that transition personally, academically and socially,” Martz said.
To help with settling into the 7,958 acre campus the Office for Student Orientation and Transition Programs provided a few tips for new students.
- Choose classes in buildings closer together because the campus is large
- Use the bus transportation provided (And track where the busses are through the CATA app)
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to facility or advisors
- Make an effort to get to know your facility (In large classes it can be hard but all faculty have office hours just like on the Altoona campus)
- Use the University libraries and attend the open house on Sept. 5 and 6
- Don’t be afraid to use Penn State learning services which is free tutoring for students
- Connect with Global Programs early if you’re interested in studying abroad
- Know your tuition cost at tuition.psu.edu
- Try not to bring a car because parking on campus with a pass is limited to one parking lot near Beaver Stadium
- Attend the involvement fair but make sure to go with organizations already in mind
The session also included many common issues students run into when they begin their semester at University Park. Murphy mentioned one of the the biggest problems he has seen with students is not managing their finances wisely and he attributes that to something he likes to call “The Chipotle problem”.
“The Chipotle problem… there is never not a line at chipotle and people will eat chipotle three or four times a week which is delicious but is also a 10 to 12 dollar dinner three or four times a week … (your money) just goes more quickly if you’re not watching it very carefully and not being mindful of planning out meals for the week,” Murphy said.
Another common transition issue with students from branch campuses to University park is the “GPA dip.” DeAnn explained some research that shows students who transition to University Park after a branch campus experience a slight drop in their GPA in their first semester. Students usually average a dip of about a half a point drop. This drop is attributed to courses getting more difficult and the significant change in campus life.
DeAnn emphasized, “You’re not alone. It’s probably happening to other people. It doesn’t mean your not prepared, it doesn’t mean you’re not ready to be at University Park. It just means you have to change what your doing a little bit.”
The Office for Student Orientation and Transition Programs hosts several events to help students get accumulated to University Park during Welcome Week and are located at 301 Bank of America Career Services Center University Park, PA 16802 to help students if they need additional resources.