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.

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

A day in the life: What it’s like to be a Nittany Lion

One of the first things you’ll realize as soon as you move in to college and start taking classes is that a typical weekday in college is very different from a typical weekday in high school. Instead of sitting in classrooms in one building for seven hours, you’re usually only in class for two or three hours a day, often with large breaks in between. However, that doesn’t mean you’re not busy with extracurriculars, studying, and a social life. Here is what my day looked like on Monday, October 2, 2017, as a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism.

My Monday started with a 7:15 alarm so I could get to my 8 a.m. class on time. Admittedly, I snoozed my alarm until 7:35 (one of the benefits of living on campus). Although the high temperature that day was in the low 70s, the morning started off cold for my bike ride to class.





My first class of the day was COMM 260, an introductory news writing course required for all journalism and public relations majors. Taking this class at 8 a.m. was certainly not my first choice, but since I enjoy what I learn in this class I have no problem staying awake and focused. In a typical class, the instructor has us do some practice using AP Style (using the AP Stylebook, of course) followed by an in-class writing assignment. There are only about 20 people enrolled in my class. On Monday, we learned about how to cover speeches, using Joe Paterno’s eulogy as an example.


Following my first class, I had a meeting with my adviser to make an academic plan for the rest of my time at Penn State. Even with two minors in Political Science and Education Policy Studies, I learned that I’m still on track for a light senior year, including one semester where I only need to take 10.5 credits (I’m currently taking 17 credits, two of which are an internship. The other credits come from five three-credit classes). I also learned that I still have to take one more math class, even though I thought I was done with that requirement. (Side note: this is why it’s important to meet with your adviser at least once a semester!) I also officially declared broadcast journalism as my major in LionPath.


After tragically learning about my math-filled fate, I went back to my dorm room. I live in Chace Hall, one of the renovated dorms located in the South Halls housing area. I love the location of my dorm, which is only a block from downtown and a five minute walk to numerous dining halls, classrooms, a gym, and the HUB (a popular study and meeting spot). It also has a great view of Mount Nittany (okay, I took the picture from the end of my hallway, but it’s close enough).


After studying and eating lunch (leftover Chipotle from the night before), I was off to my second and last class of the day: EdPsych14. This class is a required introductory class for all Education majors and minors, and it focuses on the use of psychology in the classroom. There are about 300 people in this class, and the professor pauses many times throughout the class to let us discuss concepts with the people sitting around us.



With classes over for the day, I headed out to Innovation Park, home of the Bellisario College of Communications broadcast, telecommunications, and film facilities. Innovation Park is located about two miles from main campus, but it’s easily accessed using the Red Link, a free bus that runs from campus to IP (as us in the College of Comm like to call it). I started giving tours of IP over the summer, and on Monday I gave my first tour of the fall semester to a prospective film student. The tour includes stops in classrooms, computer labs, recording studios, and TV and film studios. I love giving tours and talking to incoming students; I remember being in their shoes just two years ago when I was looking at colleges.

After the tour was over, it still wasn’t time for me to leave Innovation Park. On Mondays, I produce the newscast for CommRadio, the Bellisario College of Communication’s student-run radio station. CommRadio produces full newscasts at 6 p.m. every weeknight, covering the latest in both local and world news, sports, and entertainment, along with special features on student opinions and special events on campus. Although I’m only involved with the news portion, CommRadio also does play-by-play for some of Penn State’s 31 NCAA Division 1 sports teams, as well as talk shows for every interest you can think of. As producer, I help my newscast team edit audio and find stories, and then make sure things run smoothly as we broadcast the news live at


After the newscast was over, it was time to head back to campus. I got off the bus at East Halls and went to East Commons to grab a roast beef panini before heading off to yet another meeting. Dining commons are located in every housing area, so no matter where you are on campus you can find a place to grab food using your meal plan. After getting this panini, I walked at a brisk pace/jogged across campus to the HUB, where my Homecoming Committee was having a meeting.



I’m part of the Parade Committee for Penn State Homecoming, meaning I help plan what is the largest student-run parade in the nation. Even though Homecoming isn’t for another month, at the meeting we talked about who will perform at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the start of the parade. We also talked about how excited we were to meet John Urschel, a former Penn State football player and the Grand Marshall for this year’s parade. I showed my committee the t-shirts I designed for us to order, then redesigned the shirt once I realized I had used the wrong website to make the design (oops).


After the meeting, I bought a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream using my meal points (S’mores flavor, would highly recommend) and headed back to my dorm. I would like to say that I studied once I got back to my room, but the reality is that I just watched a few episodes of The Office and the latest episode of This Is Us (surprisingly, I didn’t cry). My day was very busy, but with a little bit of time management skills it’s definitely possible to juggle being involved in a lot of different activities. My advice to any future Penn Staters is to get involved with a lot of things outside of the classroom. You will find that in college you have a lot of free time, and filling that time with activities that advance your career and personal/social life will help you make the most of your four (or more) years.

Adobe Creative Cloud now available free to Penn State students

For a while now, Penn State students have been able to get everything from Microsoft Office to a subscription to the New York Times for no additional cost. On Monday, the popular Adobe Creative Cloud joined the lineup of products available for free to students enrolled at all Penn State campuses.

Encompassing programs ranging from Photoshop to Illustrator to Premiere Pro, the Creative Cloud features applications useful to students of all majors and interests.

“There’s so much in the package,” said Megan Folmar, the director of IT communications at Penn State. “If you don’t know how to use something, this will give you a chance to explore it and find out new things.”

Created using Adobe Spark

Folmar also encouraged students to visit to find tutorials explaining how to use the programs they now have access to.

Jennifer Sparrow, the senior director of Teaching and Learning with Technology for Penn State, emphasized the impact that the applications on the Creative Cloud can have on students.

“This suite of tools is the industry standard, so when [students] leave here, being able to say that they know how to use Photoshop, InDesign, or Illustrator will put them ahead,” Sparrow said.

Michael Procinsky, a senior majoring in journalism, said that he was excited to start using the programs right away for a job.

A screenshot from my portfolio, created using the My Portfolio feature on the Adobe Creative Cloud

“I’m an entrepreneurship minor and I’m working for a startup, so I hope to use Adobe’s platforms for the company I’m working for,” Procinsky said.

Shortly after the programs became available, my friend and I immediately downloaded a few and started looking at what we could do with the applications. My friend used Photoshop to create a picture of me juggling on top of Old Main, while I was able to create an Instagram-worthy inspirational quote with a cool background. I also discovered the Portfolio app, where I quickly put together some of my best journalistic work in a template that made me look like I already have an accomplished career.

The Adobe license is available to all Penn State students and faculty members at this link. 

5 tips to ace your college applications

High school seniors, the time has finally come; after years of thinking about where you want to go to college, this fall is when you complete your applications and seriously think about where you want to end up. The whole process can seem very overwhelming, especially when you consider that this is the biggest step towards your future that you’ve taken so far (no pressure!) Here are my tips for surviving college application season:

1. Narrow down your list

By this point in the process, you should have already researched schools that you want to visit and eventually apply to (if you haven’t done this yet, College Board’s Big Future search is a great resource to quickly find information about colleges). If your research has left you with a long list, now is the time to narrow that list down to about five or eight schools, according to the College Board. It might seem tempting to just apply to a bunch of schools and see what happens, but the less applications you have to complete is the less time you have to spend writing essays and the less money you have to spend on application fees and visits. Personally, I only applied to three schools (all of which I considered match schools). When I was narrowing down my list, I asked myself one question that really helped me focus only on schools I was seriously interested in: “If I got in to this school, would I actually go?” Applying to colleges “just because” or “just to see what happens” is a waste of time and money.

2. The thing about safety schools

When narrowing down your list, it’s good to have a mix of reach schools (schools that you’re not entirely sure you can get in to), match schools (schools that you’re pretty sure you can get in to), and safety schools. It can be easy to not take your safety schools seriously, but remember my question from above: “If I got in to this school, would I actually go?” You have a safety school for a reason: if, for some reason, you don’t get in to any of the other schools you apply to, this will be the school you are going to. Remember, in a year you will be going to college and starting a new life. You don’t want to waste years of your life in a place you don’t want to be just because you wanted to get a surefire acceptance letter. Most importantly, make sure that you have financial safety schools; schools that you can afford without a large amount of financial aid. Financial aid is difficult to predict, and you don’t want to find out that you can’t afford to go to any of the colleges you got accepted to.

3. Really think about your essays

In English class, you’ve probably had to write essays of about 2,000 or so words. So a 500-word application essay should be easy, right? Wrong. Having such limited space means that every word you use has to matter. That can be stressful, so make sure that you take the time to truly think about what message you want to get across before you start writing. Whether you want to describe your love of the color red or how a speech impediment has affected your life, really think about what the best way to convey your story is. A good rule of thumb is always to show, not tell; describe specific instances that illustrate your point, paying close attention to feelings and setting.Read sample application essays online so you have an idea of what you should be writing. Have your English teacher and your friends proofread your essay and take their ideas and criticism into consideration so you can submit the best essay possible.

4. Penn State-specific advice

Penn State’s application is available through MyPennState (you will need to create an account to apply). The application opens on September 1st every year and operates on a rolling deadline, meaning that there’s not one specific deadline that your application must be in by. However, it

’s best to apply by November 30th for your best chance at getting in to the campus and major you want. Once your application is in, you will hear back anywhere from within days to months. If your application is in by the November 30th deadline, you will receive an offer of admission no later than January 31st. Again, the best choice you can make when applying to Penn State is to apply by the November 30th deadline.

New this year in the application is the system of self-reported grades, meaning that you will manually enter your high school grades into the application and you do not have to send in your official transcript until the end of your senior year. Make sure that you have a copy of your transcript in front of you when you fill out the application. Obviously, entering wrong information as part of your self-reported grades can have serious consequences down the line, so make sure to double check that you are entering the correct information.

Another part of the application that you will notice is the part where you have to select an alternate campus and a starting semester. There are 19 campuses other than University Park to start at, all with their own unique atmosphere and advantages. Take the time to research Commonwealth Campuses so that you fully know your options when you apply. Unless you note otherwise (and there are many reasons why you may choose to start at another campus), Penn State will assume that your first choice of campus is University Park (also referred to as Main Campus). Your application will first be reviewed for University Park and you will only be considered for an alternate campus if your application is not accepted for University Park. Another option is the choice to start during summer session. As with alternate campuses, your application will be reviewed for fall first (unless you choose to apply directly to summer) and will only be considered for summer if it is not accepted for fall.

5. Don’t stress!

One of my high school teachers gave me great advice when I was applying to colleges: “You are going to be happy at whatever school you end up at because you are going to choose to be happy wherever you go.” Even if you don’t end up at your first choice, the decisions you make once you’re in college (such as what major you choose and the clubs you decide to join) will give you a lot of things to enjoy. Going to college (and especially going away to college) is a great experience that not everybody gets to enjoy, so take a step back and think about all of the support from teachers, parents, and friends you’ve enjoyed that have allowed you the privilege of sitting down and choosing your own future.

How I Learned to Love Penn State

If you had asked me in high school what college I wanted to go to, I would not have said Penn State. I had my heart set on going to school outside of my home state of Pennsylvania; more specifically, I wanted to go to New England, where I dreamed of studying in a library on a leafy college campus nestled in between rolling hills.

However, at my mom’s insistence that I look at a school in state, I applied to Penn State (mostly because all of my friends applied) and told everybody that I wouldn’t end up going here anyway. Still, one day in September of my senior year, I drove up to State College with my best friend and her dad to tour campus.

The more time I spent on campus during my visit, the more I realized that my insistence that I wouldn’t end up going to Penn State may have been a little premature. To me, the campus was perfect; it looked like what I always thought a college campus should look like, with beautiful academic buildings, lots of trees, and wide lawns full of students hanging out and studying. When the campus tour ended and I walked from the Business Building to the Creamery (where I got a huge cup of Peachy Paterno ice cream), I got the feeling that I could really belong at Penn State.

A few months later, I visited again, this time meeting with an adviser within the College of Communications. Sitting in the Carnegie Building, I knew that if I decided to go anywhere other than Penn State, I would always regret passing up the opportunities I have here.

I arrived on campus for the fall semester of my freshman year full of excitement and apprehension. I spent much of my first semester overwhelmed by everything: the amount of people on campus in between classes, the immense school pride that washed over State College on football game days, the 12 by 15 foot dorm room that I had to share with somebody I barely got along with. There were times I questioned my decision not to go to college in New England, even though I knew the reasons I had decided to come to Penn State still made my decision to come here the right one.

My second semester was better than my first one, since I was more familiar with campus and college life. By the time spring semester ended, I was sad to leave and go home. However, I wasn’t home for long before I came back to campus in late June to work as a LEAP Mentor for incoming freshman. Spending the summer in State College was the best decision I ever made; I was able to get closer to the friends I already had who were also in town for the summer, and I found a group of other Mentors whom I really enjoyed spending time with. Looking back, I regret not enrolling in summer session before my freshman year to ease my transition into college life.

As I start my sophomore year at Penn State, I am so glad that I chose to come here. Even after only a year, the College of Communications has given me even more opportunities than I thought it would when I first decided to send in my deposit my senior year of high school. The campus is always as pretty as it was the day I visited, and even at such a big school I can’t walk across campus without running into somebody I know. I love studying in all the different spots around campus, and I can’t wait to go to football games with my friends this fall. And, as it turns out, I get to live out my dream of sitting in a library with a view of a leafy campus and beautiful rolling hills after all.

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