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‘Passion Blog Spring 2016- ‘Freshie’’ Category

  1. Incredible Opportunities at PSU

    April 12, 2016 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    In my last post, I talked a lot about things that your parents have often done for you throughout your childhood and now you’re responsible to take the lead. Honestly, you will most likely make mistakes. We all do. The most important part is learning from your mistakes without your parents having to yell or teach you the valuable life lessons, over the phone. Try to get to the point where you are deciding what’s best for yourself. You are the one who decided on Penn State or your selected University anyway!

    So, I’d like to highlight a few incredible opportunities for Penn State freshmen specifically.

    Each college of Penn State, as well as most other Universities, has some type of mentorship program to personally connect with a member of the Alumni base of the specific college. People in the Office of Alumni Engagement for that specific area of the university then match you with an alumni in your desired field. I was personally matched with someone who currently works here at Penn State but used to work in Actuarial Science. While, that is no longer my career destination, my mentor offers to meet with me anytime. Honestly, I loved meeting him. He is an outsider looking in and gave me a lot of great feedback in regards to where I am going and how he can help. He emails me frequently and is a great contact.

    Also, for freshmen going into the STEM field, entering one of the five STEM colleges (IST, Engineering, Science, Agricultural Sciences, or Earth and Mineral Sciences) and also hope to pursue research and graduate studies in the field, the Millennium Scholars Program is a fantastic, life-changing opportunity. Beyond the generous financial assistance that the program provides, Millennium is an experience. The program helps to put you on the Ph.D. track while giving you access to resources that you never thought were possible. From personal academic counseling to eating ice cream with the President to assistance when applying to summer research experiences, hard work pays off.

    All high-achieving freshmen applying to Penn State should also apply to be in the Schreyer Honors College. Being a part of the honors college not only grants you an academic award before coming to college, but it grants you unbelievable opportunities. Premier housing and priority scheduling (before the rest of the university) are hard to come by. Scholars can apply for summer research grants and go on particular study abroad trips with other scholars. They can take embedded classes  with a study abroad portion too! Some of my friends are spending a week in places like Tanzania, China and Europe at the end of the semester. In addition, the Presidential Leadership Academy provides the opportunity for students to develop leadership fundamentals to thrive in an environment of exploration, diversity, and respect, which lead to action.

    The Paterno Fellows Program is an innovative program offered jointly by the College of the Liberal Arts and the Schreyer Honors College that encourages students to challenge themselves academically and find an education in leadership.

    There’s so much opportunity for success. Take advantage and enjoy.

  2. Plan for the things your parents did for you.

    April 5, 2016 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    I can bet that most people aren’t like me. I am probably just weird but I would just prefer to call myself “unique.” I oddly starting saving money when I was little. I enjoyed cleaning my house and would voluntarily clean my friends rooms…I began cooking when I was nine. I folded my underwear, did my own laundry and went to bed without my parents telling me to do so. I did all of those things because I had so much satisfaction in knowing that I was somewhat self-sufficient. I loved and still do love not having to ask for money because I have saved for so long and feeling like I don’t have to depend on anyone at all.

    Your parents/guardians did these things for you and now they are “shifting” the responsibility to you.

    1. Laundry
    2. Food
    3. Chores
    4. Sleep
    5. Money/Budgeting

    1) First of all, laundry. laundry. laundry. At Penn State, you can either do your laundry like most humans do, or take the cop out option by paying for a service to pick up, wash, dry and fold your laundry. Lazy Lion is a laundry service that is available in State College. You will often see the van outside of East Halls, picking up the laundry of freshmen who are lazy, spoiled or just fortunate. But, since laundry only costs $1.50 per wash and $0.50 per dry, I feel as though you should do your own laundry to be economic, since you probably won’t be working and it is good practice for the rest of your life. Hopefully, you’ll be able to afford a laundry service once you graduate, but with the mounting costs of college, probably not.

    2) Food. Enjoy your parents cooking until you come to Penn State or whatever other institution you plan to attend. Also, enjoy the food for the first few weeks of college when it’s “good.” Soon enough, it will get old, literally and physically, and you will be tired of eating the same thing every week.

    3) You should probably clean your room. Otherwise, it will get to the point where your parents come for a surprise visit and you can’t let them into your room. Also, I got sick from dust in my room and mold that my roommate was growing under her wet shower caddy. Clean your room. You won’t regret it.

    4) Sleep. If you are an over-achiever, you will probably fight every day to get six hours of sleep. But, in order to not be falling asleep in any of your classes, find your ideal amount of sleep. For me, it is seven to eight hours. During every semester, you begin by sleeping one to two hours extra per night but (if you are busy) by Spring Break, and post mid-terms, you’ll barely get five hours, if you’re lucky.

    5) Last but certainly not least, budget your money. Tons of my friends feel guilty when they ask their parents for $100 every other week. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Try to work or save a lot before you come to college to avoid this and make up for not working here.

    Remember to be your own parent once in a while. Until next time…

  3. Use the campus, literally

    March 30, 2016 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    Most people aren’t successful while studying in their room. In my room, you could hear a pin drop because my roommate and I do not speak. But, MOST people, aren’t “so lucky” to have such a quiet room. Even I, with an extremely quiet room, need other places to go to study. Needless to say, find a few comfortable places that fit your studying style in order to be productive, whether you’re cramming for an exam or finishing a project. It may be your dorm room or a cozy corner of the library, but find a place that works best for you to get your work done, while avoiding as many distractions as possible, unless you like distractions! Some people do. Everyone is different.

    Use your campus resources as well. Seek professional help if and when you need it. Most colleges have health and counseling centers. If you’re sick or feeling isolated or depressed, please take advantage of the many services these offices provide students. Even if you want to just talk to someone, do it. You don’t ever have to face these issues by yourself. If your friend suggests it and thinks it’s a good idea, try it. You’ll never know if it helps if you don’t try.

    Find the Career Services center on campus. Regardless of whether you are entering college as undeclared or have your entire future mapped out to the minute, seek out the wonderful professionals in your college’s career services office and get started on planning, preparing, and acting on your future. Update your resume and make the update from being a senior in high school to a freshman in college. They are different. Have someone look at it before you show it to anyone important.

    Also, meet with your advisor. While you might think they don’t care about you because it is a random person, they will if you care as well. I have the pleasure of meeting with my advisor every three weeks as a part of my program on campus. Indeed, it was annoying at times if we didn’t have anything to talk about last year, but now, meetings are incredibly important because my life is constantly changing. They will help you with course conflicts, adding or dropping courses, scheduling of classes for future semesters, deciding on majors and minors. This person is a key resource for you. They should be the person you turn to with any academic issues or conflicts, in addition to any mentors that you have. And don’t be afraid of requesting another adviser if you don’t click with the one first assigned to you. At most large schools, you can go to Drop-In Advising Hours as well.

    Also, use the resources that make you happy as well. Get a gym membership. Go to fitness classes, especially if that is an easy way for you to exercise. Go swimming. Take a bus to the mall if you have a shopping problem like me. Watch movies at the student center. Get your tv time in if you enjoy that. Just don’t forget to do something for you, every week.

    Until next time…

  4. Building Relationships = Major Key

    March 19, 2016 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    Building relationships from day one through Graduation Day is a major key in college. From making friends to expanding your professional network, it could make the difference from being hired in a full-time job when you’re still in college vs. one year down the road. Trust me. It will help you eventually.

    First, and foremost. Make friends with everyone you can on campus. In your club meetings, turn around get to know one person every other week. In your class, ask a question of the person beside you and see where that goes from there. I made a great friend/study-buddy in one class last semester by asking her a simple question and we are still close. When you’re out at night with friends of friends, get to know everyone’s names and then add them on social media to keep in touch. Be outgoing. Don’t sit in you room with your lovely (or not so lovely) roommate all day. I know plenty of people who only hangout with their hometown friends in college. That isn’t a bad thing at all, because my high school best friend is here and I’m glad she is, but college is all about building new relationships in a new community that will last you a lifetime. I bet some of my best friends right now will be my truly close friends for the rest of my life. Also, to be completely honest, make friends with the Housing Staff, the cooks in the dining halls, security officers, RA’s, and the list goes on and on. You never know when you’ll need something!!

    Next, truly get to know your professors. They are actually human beings with stories and experience. Most of them are quite nice. But, at the end of the day, they are far more likely to go above and beyond for someone they already know. So don’t wait until you’re in trouble academically or you need a favor to get to know them. If you’re not doing too hot in a class by the end of the semester, chances are they’ll be more willing to find a way to help you if they know that you’ve been to office hours and you participate in class. Also, they will also come in handy as a reference when you are interested in applying for research experiences, internships, or externships in the future. They might even be willing to write you a letter of recommendation if you’ve truly built a great relationship which will come in handy if you’re applying for scholarships (do it do it do it) or acceptance into programs on campus or at other institutions. You may even end up being friends with some of these people!

    Finally, be a good friend. Despite the fact that some girls that I’ve gotten to know recently screw up quite frequently, I continue to help them (sometimes when I should not) because that is who I am.  Sometimes your friends need you to be there for them and sometimes you’ll need them to be there for you. Don’t ever let them down. Stay true to who you are and they’ll return the favor when you need them.

    Until next time…

  5. 2 more things….

    March 16, 2016 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    I have two pieces of advise for the day. One is to apply to your life at this point, in spring of your senior year. The next is for the beginning of your semester.

    Now that you are in the home stretch, take this advice with a grain of salt.

    1. Have fun.
    2. Study for your AP exams. You will be thrilled with yourself when you come to college as a 2nd semester freshman or even a sophomore, like me. IT WILL BE WORTH IT. For example, for a 5 in AP United States History, I received 6 credits, the entire requirement at Penn State! Work hard. It will be worth the credits and your time.
    3. Look forward to the beautiful parts of senior year like Prom and your end of year events.
    4. Do not let Senioritis get the best of you. Go to school because by the time that AP exams are over, high school is a joke. All you have to do is show up. Seriously, just go. You’ll regret missing 25 days in last month of school a few years later. You never get those days back.
    5. Spend time with your high school friends. Say hello to everyone you know when you see them. Spend time with your friends outside of school from now until graduation and until the day that you go to college.You don’t know if you’ll ever see them again. I lost one of my best friends during my Spring semester of freshman year and I cherish every moment that we spent together during high school.
    6. Take advantage of this time because high school is so much easier than your college experience will be.
    7. Don’t worry about petty drama or waste any of your time. It won’t matter in four months.
    8. Enjoy your parents cooking. Food will soon be quite crappy. You won’t eat steak, anything homemade or any other “luxury foods.”Eat at your favorite restaurants whenever you can because the broke college life will quickly set in.
    9. Everything will feel like a last. Cry if you need to. Embrace how special everything is. Take pictures at every event.
    10. Eat your favorite desserts and such. Actually, take lots of pictures. You probably won’t ever be skinnier than you are now.
    11. Go to any athletic event or the party or movie because Netflix can wait.
    12. Hangout with your younger siblings. They will miss you alot.

    Next, I would like to address your dining experience on campus at Penn State, to give you a fair warning. The food at East is generally terrible. The Big Onion has good food for on the go and their pizza is apparently fantastic. The best breakfast on campus is at Pollock Commons if you are looking for a good plethora of options. They always have a sweet option such as the French Toast Sticks. The pancakes aren’t good. (Hint: make lots of pancakes at home if you enjoy them) A great lunch is available at West Commons where you can end every meal with a smile as you eat their chocolate chip cookies. But, South has the best dinner options because they offer more weekly variety. The prime rib is muy bueno. Dinner at Pollock and West is luck of the draw beyond the staples of burgers, fries, pizza, pasta and salad. They offer late night at South but its a hodge podge of food from breakfast to breadsticks. The best chocolate chip cookies though are hot out of the oven from Pollock. The daily ice cream is wonderful as well. I enjoy milk and it is fantastic from the Creamery, served out of cold vats! I promise that the food isn’t bad here…it is just not home.

  6. Don’t make school harder than it is…

    March 2, 2016 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    The adjustment to college can either go really well or quite poorly. Some students who were active in high school continued to stay on top of things and other simply feel too comfortable in their bed. But, the freedom that you obtain when your parents drive away for the first time is insane. They actually don’t come back a few hours later. Success in college is all about what you do when no one is looking.

    I’m not saying you need to schedule your day down to the half-hour, like I do, but it definitely works! Be organized. Get a planner. During sylly week, write down all of your exam dates and project due-dates that are outlined in the syllabus or online. In high school, the teachers tended to lead you through all the homework and due dates. In college, the professors post the assignments — often for the entire semester — and expect you to be prepared. Buy an organizer, use an app, or get a big wall calendar — whatever it takes for you to know when assignments are due. Writing it on a dry-erase board in your room will make all you have to do, quite visible.

    Go to class. Obvious, right? Maybe, but sleeping in, watching Netflix, and skipping that 8 am class will be tempting at times. Avoid the temptation. Besides learning the material by attending classes, you’ll also receive information from the professors about what to expect on tests, changes in due dates, etc.

    Don’t procrastinate on your assignments. Finishing your online physics homework at 11:58pm when it is due at 11:59pm is not enjoyable. Procrastination makes things more difficult for you because you’ll probably end up always catching up and never getting ahead. That will give you unnecessary stress. It also helps if you actually do work ahead on those assignments that you know about in advance because then there is less for you to worry about later on. Then, you’ll be able to concentrate on other assignments and maybe even have more time to go out and have some fun in this fun place.

    Take advantage of the free academic support that Penn State provides, FOR FREE. Students on this campus who don’t go to class oftentimes go down to LionTutors or Nittany Notes for what they could have gotten in class, from a Guided Study Group or by asking another student for help. When I heard of Penn State Learning, I just assumed that I would never need help. But, honestly, Guided Study Groups for physics have helped make my would-be B test grades, A test grades. The resources are all there. You just have to take advantage of them.

    Make friends in your classes. Even if you think your best friend group is absolutely amazing and “no new friends” is your motto, think again. This university is full of thousands of potential friends. It would be fantastic if you expand your horizon beyond the three people you always hangout with and go out with. Simply talk to people and ask questions. Don’t be awkward and immediately ask where they go on the weekends but simply start something. The best time to do this is sylly week because, at that point, everyone is looking for new friends.

    Until next time…

  7. Once you get here…

    February 17, 2016 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    Now that I’ve poured my heart out to you about what to bring and what not to bring to school, realize that once your family says their final goodbyes, it will be sad and you will probably cry. I promise everyone does on that first time. It will get better but the first goodbye is the worst. I didn’t want to let go. It felt like being dropped off at Pre-K all over again. But, every time they come to visit, each time will get better.

    So…now that you are alone. Hopefully you have a good roommate. I didn’t luck out in that department but I honestly hope yours is wonderful. Talk with them and get to know them! Don’t just put headphones like my roommate always does.

    Your Resident Assistant who lives on your floor (your RA) will come around soon if they haven’t already and try to alleviate the awkwardness. Just be nice. They will probably be weird but it’s okay! Just go with the flow. They will invite you to a dinner with the girls on your floor and to Convocation with the President. Don’t skip it! You’ll regret it because you will get in trouble with the Housing Department. Also, it is the only time that you will be with your entire freshman class EVER. You will graduate with your specific college and major and never with your entire class because there will be ten thousand of you.

    Then, during the welcome week. Don’t sit in your bed and watch Netflix! Go to everything that sounds interesting. Welcome Week at Penn State starts with Convocation at the Bryce Jordan Center. Next, you’ll have a group meeting with your RA where you will meet all of the girls on the floor and play ice breaker games and such. It is actually enjoyable. I met my best friends on my floor in Wolf Hall in Pollock. We played games that seemed pointless but I actually found things in common with other girls such as a shopping addiction and love of Netflix.

    The week goes on to include the FAMOUS involvement fair in Alumni Hall at the HUB. It will be overwhelming because there will be hundreds of people in the room like fish in an ocean. There will be endless posters for a million different clubs. Just take the time to find some interesting clubs to sign up for and give your email to. Go to the first few meetings of a few different clubs. I found my favorite clubs from my fall semester involvement fair. Also, go to your specific college’s involvement fair. I became a Science LionPride,  which is the club that is the ambassadors of the College of Science at Penn State. In addition, there are numerous events in each section of Residence Life to allow you to become acclamated to your new home. Go! I ate a lot of free Creamery Ice cream during that week. It was great. Honestly you won’t regret going to these events.

    Until next time…

  8. Organizing for the move to college…

    February 9, 2016 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    As you take in the final days of high school, don’t wish them away. Cherish them. Time flies and before you know it, you’re already moving to University Park to start your life as a Penn State freshie 🙂 While, yes, it is incredibly exciting. It is also very new and similar the millions of words that I described the year with in my first blog post. It’s lit but first you need to get here.


    Moving Tip #1          Be organized!           If you are like me, you’re are organized to the point that  you schedule your day down to the half-hour and you love lists. I can’t survive without them. So, in mid-April, I had already started (because of my excitement for school to begin in June). I have attached my College Shopping List that I came up with to hopefully help you as well! It will save you time because you won’t have to check your pile of “Stuff to go to college” every time you want to buy a few more things for school. It will put your mind at ease, when you get in the car to leave, because you will be confident in the fact that you aren’t forgetting anything important. Also, you’ll save money too. My sister and I are complete opposites. My Mom told her that she needed to have a list and such. She ended up needing to take a $400 trip to Target on the day she moved in. While my parents could thankfully foot the bill, no one wants to spend money on the college budget at the last minute. Also, she arrived to school with two pretty sets of desk organization things and three shower caddies…No one can shower three times at once. Who needs two sets of desk organizers when you only have one desk? You don’t want to make these mistakes and forget important things. Also, to be efficient when you are out shopping in the month leading up to going away, save the document on Google Sheets to be able to access it easily and mark off items that you purchase. This way, you’ll always be able to add items to the list that you think of on the go.


    Moving Tip #2      You sadly can’t bring everything but don’t forget the important stuff…              I had a difficult time realizing this as my parents and I needed to make almost three trips with full laundry carts full of my stuff. In the summer, my clothes were thinner, smaller and took up less space. Also, I had a double without a roommate and took up all of the drawers along with my closet. We don’t have much room/space. You don’t need to bring EVERY high school t-shirt. You won’t wear them all. Keep the storage in mind. Come fall, I had to send a ton home. There isn’t enough room here for my entire closet to come along from home.

    While you can’t bring everything, don’t forget the things that you can’t buy at Target or will be expensive to send by the mail. Jewelry, makeup collection, hair tools, and your technology (iPad, Laptop, Chargers, Headphones, etc.) Bring lots of headphones. I use Apple headphones while walking to not look like a fool. I wear my Beats in the HUB. (You’ll realize that it isn’t the quietest place during the day but it is often very convenient). While they aren’t too expensive to replace, numerous pairs of wire headphones add up on the college budget.

    Until next time…

  9. Bringing High School Boys to College.

    February 3, 2016 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    Hello Ladies…

    Now that you’ve decided that Penn State is right for you. I hope to prepare you for your freshman year, before you get here! While my freshman has been a fantastic experience so far, I’ve already learned so much and my friends have as well. We all have made a few mistakes but most of them were made because I was never told about the situation and its possibilities.

    So, I’d like to start with something that is near and dear to many hearts.

    Don’t come with a boyfriend unless it IS THE TRUEST and, in the words of Iggy, “the realest” relationship possible. Once again, DO NOT come to college with a boyfriend. Many girls learn this the hard way.

    There are many fish in the Happy Valley sea. This was advice that my friend gave me before I came to school. I’m so glad that I took it. Towards the end of my senior year, I took some time for a bit of self-reflection. While I thought and thought about how great my relationship had been, I realized that it wasn’t the same as it used to be when we were younger and that I felt like it was a friendship and not a relationship. Nicely ending a relationship is incredibly difficult but it was what I had to do, knowing that I was coming to Penn State in a month.

    I was afraid of feeling tied down to anyone at that point. I wanted to have the freshman experience. I knew that if I were still in a relationship, I would be too busy worrying about him, how he is doing and when he would come visit, instead of living up the short time I have here in college. Freshman year is the time to live it up simply because of the fact that everything is easier. Freshman year lacks commitment and it lacks difficult classes. If you want to attempt to go out three nights a week, freshman year is the time to do it because it will be virtually impossible at any other time in college. You have a completely clean slate. Prepare yourself for new experiences with new people who have no idea who you are or where you’re coming from. Take advantage of that. If you want to make a change, there will be no better time than your freshman year.

    Guys come and go. A dear friend came to Penn State with a long distance boyfriend. He was rude but claimed that he was an angel in college, hours away from Penn State. He always hated on Penn State too (tisk tisk). She soon realized that he had been taking advantage of the distance and cheated on her, after years of being together. He broke her heart. It broke my heart to watch it all happen. We always think those things don’t happen to us, until they do. So, we all learn that most guys are as perfect as they seem.

    If you want to come to school with a boyfriend, simply talk it over. Consider the seriousness of your relationship. Be 110% sure that you have a plan to make it work. Prioritize your college experience. You wouldn’t want to miss out on any of the freshman year fun at Penn State.

  10. Welcome to Penn State Class of 20(something)…

    January 20, 2016 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    WELCOME TO PENN STATE Class of 20(something).

    Dear Future Penn State Freshie,

    I’m sure you just got the largest envelope of your life with a Nittany Lion on it!

    Welcome to THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH (next to Disney World).

    Officially, I would like to tell you how proud you should be to have been accepted into this school.

    Welcome to the most exciting four years of the first 2.5 decades of your life!

    So, I would love to break the news. This experience will be fun. challenging. exciting. new. beautiful. rowdy. loud. quiet. exhilarating. scary. active. social. very social. powerful. awkward. cold. icy. flexible. bold. humbling. inclusive. studious. INDEPENDENT.

    I feel as though the last word brings about different feelings for everyone. For you, it might be the hardest part because maybe you’ve never done much for yourself. I promise, you’ll be okay! For me, it was my favorite part of the Fall Semester.

    Since it’s the middle of your senior year of high school, don’t let senior-itis kick in too soon. Live up your senior year because it is the last few days with the people that you have grown up with, cried with, laughed with and spent so many hours in high school with. You never know when you’ll see them again or if you’ll see them again.

    Next, make sure that Happy Valley is the place for you. While so many of us fall in love with the 814 and call it home, the school may be too big, too far, too loud or too proud for your liking. Even if you’re like me and you’ve been coming to Penn State football games since you were six months old, still go on the tour. Come to Accepted Students Day. Feel it all out. Spend the night here with one of your friends who graduated from your high school. I’m sure one of them must go here. Everyone talks about getting that feeling that everyone feels at one point on a college campus. I seriously toured everywhere except Penn State. I always knew what kind of feeling I get in State College, Pennsylvania. It’s that warm fuzzy feeling…But, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t get it anywhere else. I toured and toured and never felt that special feeling anywhere is. Every other school was too small, too conceited, or too quiet. But, my advice to you is take the tours. I hate having regrets or thinking I should of / would of…I’m so happy that I’m here but you want to be sure before being the excited high school senior who wants their parents to send in the deposit. BUT, it really is easy to absolutely fall in love with Penn State.

    Also, ladies…don’t come with a boyfriend unless it IS THE TRUEST and, in the words of Iggy, “the realest” you could ever imagine. There are many fish in the Happy Valley sea. I’ll talk about this topic of high school love and a few other things next week 🙂 Until then…

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