tour-guides.jpgYou have worked hard for the last three years, studying to keep your grades up and taking the tough classes. And, your hard work has paid off! But, what happens if your tests scores are not as high as you would like them to be? Here’s some insight into another one of our common questions:

When reviewing the chart of the middle 50% (the grades and test scores of the previous year’s accepted class), my grades are on the higher end of the spectrum, but my test scores are on the lower end. How will this affect my chances of getting into my first choice campus and/or major? Should I take the SAT or ACT again?

This is a difficult question to answer, and unfortunately, we cannot be very specific. Students should be aware that their academic record for years 9-11 accounts for 2/3 of the admission decision, meaning your performance during those years is the most important factor in your application evaluation. Standardized test scores fall into the final 1/3 of the review with the other application components. So, if your high school academic record is better than your test scores, you typically are in a better position than if the situation is reversed.

Taking a standardized test over may not make much of a difference in your admission decision. Since these scores are a smaller part of the application review, a change in score typically does not have as great an impact on the decision, unless the test score improves significantly. While you cannot change your high school performance for your first three years of high school – unless you haven’t finished those three years yet – you do have the opportunity to improve your test scores. It is ultimately up to you to decide if you want to take the SAT or ACT again in an attempt to improve your chances of admission, especially if you think you can make a significant improvement over your previous best score.

In the end, those students at the higher end of both ranges will have the best chance of getting their first choice campus and/or major, while students falling in the lower end may have to be more flexible with their choices. Additionally, students should have their complete application to Penn State by November 30th, our recommended filing deadline, for their best chance of admission to their campus and/or major of choice.

But remember – the numbers in the middle 50% chart are only guidelines and not a guarantee of admission, and they are representative of the students offered admission in the prior year. So, these numbers can and usually do change as a result of the caliber of applicants each year.

Hope this post helped clarify any questions you had regarding grades and test scores. Contact us if you have more questions, otherwise, we will answer yet another question next week!

SASD-Arrival.jpgThere are so many great things about Spend a Summer Day, but one of the best things is that interested students can get answers to questions they have about Penn State, our colleges and majors, the application process, and the admission requirements, to name a few.

And while the Undergraduate Admissions staff will be answering questions from students and their families at Spend a Summer Day, we know that there are many students that do not have the opportunity to visit Penn State and ask us those same questions. So instead, we are going to bring those questions – and their answers – to you!

Each week, until the Fall 2013 application is available on September 1, we will post a question that is frequently asked by students at our Spend a Summer Day events. These questions will cover a range of topics related to admissions at Penn State, and they will hopefully help better prepare you for the upcoming application process.

We are going to start off with a big one that can stress out students (and parents) – what to study?

I think I want to study <insert interest here>, but I am not sure about my specific major yet. How do I complete the application?

Don’t worry! Outside of a few majors that students must study all 4 years (like Nursing, for example), Penn Staters do not select their major formally until the end of their second year. Some colleges, like Engineering or the Liberal Arts, allow you to select an “undecided” option in their college when you apply. Or, you can select the major you are most likely to pursue within the college you desire – Penn State’s majors are organized into 12 different colleges – and begin to explore your options once on campus. If after taking some classes you discover that you are not happy with your initial choice, you can always change your major.

Or, if you have interests that fall into multiple colleges, then the Division of Undergraduate Studies might be for you. By applying to DUS (our undecided option), you can explore the many academic opportunities at Penn State with the guidance of a seasoned adviser who will help keep you on track and find the major that is perfect for you.

DUS is ideal for students that are trying to decide between a few fields of study, as well as those students who have absolutely NO IDEA what they want to pursue. The important thing to remember is there is no disadvantage to applying as an undecided student – you will be taking essential classes while on the path to determining your future major, and you will receive wonderful guidance from a DUS adviser throughout the process. In fact, only 8% of DUS students change their major after they make a selection, which is a true testament to how well this program works.

Lastly, it is important to remember that your choice of major is not set in stone! We know a lot can change in 3 months, 6 months, 12 months … and your chosen field of study is one of those things. If that happens before you attend your new student orientation at Penn State, all you have to do is call the Undergraduate Admissions Office to discuss your options.

Do you have more specific questions regarding this topic or any other item related to admissions at Penn State? If so, go ahead and comment below, send us an email, tweet us, give us a call … however you want to ask your question, we are happy to help! See you with another question next week!

Spend a Summer Day - Are You Registered?

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The next two weeks are going to be busy at University Park – we are welcoming thousands of prospective students and their families to campus to participate in Spend a Summer Day! Will you be joining us?

If you are thinking about registering, it’s not too late! Here are some important facts to know:

Where: Penn State University Park campus
Dates: July 16, 19, 20, 23, 26, and 27
Time: 8:00 a.m. – 3:20 p.m. (presentations begin at 9:15 a.m.)
Details: The day includes admissions information, details about our colleges and majors, and tours of campus and key facilities.

Visit our website to register for Spend a Summer Day at University Park or to schedule a visit to one of our other campuses.

Are you already scheduled to attend?
We hope so! Here are some things to take advantage of while you are visiting University Park:

Explore as much as possible! Penn State has a lot to offer students, and this program is a great introduction to all the academic programs and campus services available. We are sure your day will fly by with all of the great sessions and tours to attend!
Tweet! Tell everyone what you are up to at Spend a Summer Day on Twitter using the #sasd12 hashtag. Pictures are a great way to show off your favorite parts of campus.
Hit the highlights with SCVNGR! You are already walking around campus, so add to the fun by participating in our SCVNGR challenges. Download the app or play via text – either way, SCVNGR will add to the experience!
Spend time at the Information Fair! This fair at the Hetzel Union Building (HUB) is a must see. Come to learn more about Penn State, and then stay for a picture at our Photo Booth!
Eat Ice Cream! Do we really have to tell you to do this? And don’t worry … you will earn it with all the walking you will do around campus!

If you have any questions while on campus, you can visit our information table while at the HUB; or just look for one of our staff members or volunteers – we will be easy to spot! What are you looking forward to most? Tell us here, on Facebook, or on Twitter. See you soon!

Under Construction for the Pegula Ice Arena!

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Anyone who takes a road trip over the summer knows that summer vacation is synonymous with construction season – work is being done everywhere, and that includes here at Penn State!

And while some parts of campus are blissfully untouched by construction, the Undergraduate Admissions staff at the Shields Building has a front row seat to some of the major construction. Anyone who plans to visit for a tour this summer or to attend Spend a Summer Day will see what I mean immediately – we have not only lost our parking lot, but our “backyard” and the street in front of us as well!

So while it might be a little harder than usual to get to Shields this summer, we are still happily meeting prospective students and their families and giving presentations and tours as usual, although with some slight “detours” to avoid as much of the construction as possible.

And for those students that are visiting with the hopes of starting at University Park in the fall of 2013, you will get to see the end product of all this construction in your first year at Penn State – the Pegula Ice Arena! This 6,000 seat arena will be home to our Division 1 men’s and women’s ice hockey teams and will be on par with many NHL stadiums. You can take a look at the planned arena through this virtual tour:

And, to give you an idea of what is going on, here is a before shot of the current construction, as well as the anticipated after shot of the arena:

BEFORE (current)
Pegula-Construction.jpgAFTER (fall 2013)
Pegula-Ice-Arena.jpgSo, don’t let a little construction stop you from visiting University Park this summer. Our campus is beautiful as ever, and there is still as much to see and learn when you are here. We look forward to seeing you this summer!

Join us for Spend a Summer Day!

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SASD-Thumb.jpgSummer is just around the corner, which means your days at school are going to be replaced by time at the pool, summer jobs, vacations … there is no shortage of ways to spend your summer days. So, why not consider joining Penn State for a day this summer!

Our Spend a Summer Day programs are available at all 20 campuses, providing future college students and their families with great information about the admissions process, academics, and student life at Penn State. Even if you haven’t given much thought to the college selection process, these open house events are a great way to learn more about Penn State in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.

Spend a Summer Day programs are available throughout the summer, with the majority of events occurring in July. To see the full schedule of programs available at every campus, visit our website. We do require registration for Spend a Summer Day, so be sure to register early to reserve your spot.

Check back for more information about the fun activities that will take place at Spend a Summer Day, as well as photos and other highlights from our events. And don’t forget to like the Spend a Summer Day page on Facebook for all the up-to-the-minute information.

SASD-Facebook.jpgSee you this summer!

We have a new look!

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Did you happen to swing by yesterday? If so, you might have thought you typed in the wrong URL … but look again! We actually have a newly redesigned website. If you haven’t already seen it, take a look:

New-Admissions-Website.jpgOur website still gives you all the information you need to visit or apply to Penn State, but the new design makes it easier to find what you need, whenever and wherever you need it. How, you might ask? The site is more mobile friendly, so if you have an iPhone, iPad, Droid, or some other smartphone, you will be able to navigate the website easily whether you are at the beach for summer vacation or at the library doing some college research.

Mobile-Website.jpgBut, you might also notice some other changes. Our new navigation will make it easier to find the items most important to you – they are reorganized and should provide you a clearer path to the information for which you are searching.

And, we have one exciting new page you should check out – our Social Media page at Now you can find our videos, blogs, Twitter feed, and links to Facebook and Flickr all in one spot. We have lots to share about Penn State and the admissions process, and now you will never miss any of it!

Social-Media-Page.jpgSo, what do you think? Share your thoughts here … or on our Facebook page. We would love to hear from you!

FTCAP-Logo.jpgLast month, I filled you in on our FTCAP program. All incoming first year students should have completed their placement tests by now, which is the first step in preparing you for this important day in your Penn State career. If you completed the test long ago, you probably even have your advising date scheduled – if you just recently completed the test, you should be getting your date shortly.

But, what should you expect on this day-long orientation? Here is a breakdown of what students will experience during this educational “first day” at University Park:

  • FTCAP check-in at 7:30 a.m.
  • Student session at 9:00 a.m.
  • Penn State lunch at 12:00 p.m.
  • College meetings starting at 1:30 p.m.
A long day, but full of tons of relevant information! The student session, taught by staff from the Division of Undergraduate Studies, Student Affairs, and a current Penn State student, will cover information about joining the Penn State community, like the academic and social transitions you will experience and the expectations of our students.

After this initial overview, we will explain the many resources available to students and when they should use them. Penn State is dedicated to the success of its students, and understanding the services and opportunities that help them be successful is an important part of that process. All of our resources are amazing, but if you do not know they exist or how to access them, then they can’t help!

Lastly, this session ends with an introduction of Penn State’s academic structure and what we call an “academic consultation” that focuses on a student’s particular college and their academic goals. This concluding part of the session is what will prepare you for your post-lunch college meetings – the time where you will really sit down and plan your first semester based on your individual goals and interests, as well as your intended major and your specific course requirements.

We are excited to see you on campus this summer for this first step of your Penn State education. And while the above program is focused on FTCAP at University Park, I want to remind you that all of our campuses offer FTCAP programs for their first year students. To learn more about FTCAP at your particular campus, visit their website for contact information.

Oh, and don’t forget to bring a valid, federally issued photo ID for your advising day, as you will need it to get your id+ card and Access Account.

See you soon!

Need to Wait? How to Defer Admission

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Over the last seven months, we have extended thousands of offers of admission, and the Penn State family has grown as future students have accepted their offers. But, a lot can happen during the months between applying to school and the day you start classes. While we hope to see you on campus in the coming months, we know that your plans for starting college may have changed.

The good news is that if you have an offer to Penn State, or you have already accepted your offer of admission, you have the option of deferring your admission. What does that mean? How do I do that? Just contact us – we can help!

Deferring admission basically means that you still want to come to Penn State, but you just don’t think you can swing it for your starting semester, or even the entire upcoming school year. The good news is that we consider requests to defer admission for one full year from the original starting semester. Please call us to discuss your options.

When you call us, we will explain your options and let you know the best approach for deferring admission based on your circumstances, campus, intended major, and desired starting semester. In most cases, if you are sure that you will be coming to Penn State within the next year, it is easiest to accept your offer of admission by May 1 in order to reserve your spot in a future semester, and then you can get back in touch with us at a later date to change your starting semester.

Should you decide to defer admission to Penn State, we understand that you might want to take some classes in the interim to keep your skills fresh for when you do start in the future. If that is the case, please keep in mind these two important items:

  • You will not be able to take classes at a Penn State campus (you would have to be admitted at the campus)
  • You can only attempt 17 or less credit hours to keep your application current – any more than that, and you will have to submit a new application as a transfer student
If you have any questions about the deferral process, please go to and send us an email or call us at 814-865-5471. Even if your plans may have to change, just remember – we are excited to have you at Penn State!

May 1 - A Celebratory Deadline!

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May-1-image.jpgHow many times in life can you actually celebrate reaching a deadline? Sometimes, you move past deadlines with a sense of relief that you finished what was required; but often times, you just move on to the next assignment or next thing with little recognition of the deadline you have just passed.

We have a feeling that the May 1 deadline for students to inform their chosen university of their interest in attending might be a different type of deadline for some of you. Many students nationwide have already accepted their college offers, making May 1 nothing more than a day that puts them one step closer to graduation – we aren’t referring to those of you in that group.

Instead, we are reaching out to the many of you that are still agonizing over your college choices by making pro/con lists and evaluating every last detail in order to make the decision you feel is “right” for you. We hope that Penn State is still on your list of potential choices; but even if it isn’t, we know that the decision is still hard.

I spoke to a mother yesterday with a child in the same position – her child is completely split between Penn State and another institution and has been unable to choose which to attend. This mother had given her child a deadline of April 15 to make the decision. She called me yesterday (April 16!) for help and advice on how to push her child along in order to make a decision. This mother was fine with either school, she just didn’t want to see her child so worked up about the decision, and neither do we for that matter!

Ultimately, after much conversation with this mother, I shared with her the insight provided by a student panelist that participated in my Accepted Student Program this past weekend. A parent had asked our panelists why they chose Penn State over other schools. While 2 of the panelists only applied to Penn State because they loved it so much, the third student had applied to multiple schools and had many college offers. She told this parent that although it sounded cliché, she picked Penn State because after 15 minutes on campus, it felt right and she knew it was the only choice for her.

So, I told this mother to have the child throw everything else out the window – this student would more than likely attend excellent classes, meet great people, and have access to many opportunities at either campus – and just think about what school was the right fit. Deep down somewhere, I was sure this student knew which campus would fit best. I think most students know their choice when they think about where they see themselves over the next four years.

The college decision is the first of many decisions you will make that will impact not only your next 4 years, but your next 40 as well. We know it is hard decision, so after you make it, be sure to take some time to relax and de-stress. And certainly don’t forget to celebrate it as well! You worked hard for your college acceptance, so make May 1 your own special day, your College Acceptance Holiday! And if your choice is Penn State, then make it a special Blue and White Themed Holiday!

Why Penn State?

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With May 1 just a few weeks away, this is the time of year when many high school seniors are deciding which college or university they'll attend in the fall. If you're a current student, alum, or admitted student who's already committed, why did you choose Penn State? Tell us and any prospective students out there who might still be unsure about their plans. Chime in here, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter using the hashtag #whyPSU.