What to Expect in Your First Year

Welcome to your first year at PSU! Whether a first-year or transfer student, you will want to review the New Student Checklist to be sure you have taken the necessary steps to get off to a successful start. You can also use myNextSteps, an interactive to-do list that helps you keep track of tasks and deadlines so you can spend more time being a student.

First Step: New Student Orientation

All new undergraduate students are required to participate in a New Student Orientation session in order to register for their first term. At Orientation, you will:

  • Meet an academic advisor from your chosen Pathway or major
  • Be introduced to student advising expectations
  • Review academic curriculum and graduation requirements
  • Learn about resources available to you 
  • Register for your first term of classes 

Please review the Prepare for Your First Term information beforehand so that you will be ready to roll!

Expectations for Your First Year at PSU

Within your first two terms at PSU, you will be required to meet with an advisor from your intended major or Pathway for a First-Year Advising Appointment. During this appointment, you will: 

  • Learn about university, degree, and major requirements
  • Work with your advisor to establish an academic plan that will put you on the right path for your degree

After that appointment, it is up to you how often to meet with your advisor, but you should meet with them at least once a year until graduation. 

Note: Wait times for appointments can be several weeks when registration is open, so plan ahead!

Declare Your Major Before You Are a Junior

If you are unsure of your major, enter the university as "exploratory" and select a Pathway based on your interests. Your assigned advisor can help you choose courses that will help you decide. You must declare your major by 90 credits (or within your first term if transferring with 90 or more credits). Your advisor can help you explore your options.

Freshmen Students

As a first-year student, one of your most important choices for your first year will be which general education track to follow: University Studies or University Honors. The freshman courses in each program are small, yearlong courses, allowing you to get to know your professor and classmates, and build community.

In addition, you will likely take 2-3 additional courses. Refer to the Degree Planner for the major(s) you are considering.

Freshmen often worry about taking "the wrong classes." Your first year courses are designed to allow you to explore your interests while fulfilling your requirements, and most students have room for elective credits. Work with your advisor to develop a plan during your first-year advising appointment.

Please remember that your workload will be very different from high school. In fact, if you are taking your first college courses, you might be surprised to learn that a weekly schedule for a full-time student will only be three to four classes, meeting for a total of 12-18 hours a week. However, plan to study two to three hours each week for every hour of class. So, if you register for a full-time schedule of 12-15 credits, you can expect to study 24-30 hours per week in addition to the time you spend in the classroom. That's why it's called "full-time!"

If you find yourself unsure where to turn with questions, you can always reach out to your academic advisor.

Transfer Students

Graduation requirements and institutional policies and procedures differ at every college and university. While you are coming in with college experience, you should pay close attention to deadlines and seek out services and resources that you used at your previous college.

As a transfer student, you should also review information about your placement for University Studies, one of PSU's general education options. If your transfer evaluation is complete (e.g. includes all the courses you took prior to being admitted to PSU), your University Studies placement will also be indicated on your evaluation.

Run a degree audit (DARS) for your intended major before and after you register for classes. Running it beforehand shows you what courses you need; running it again afterwards confirms that your choices are, indeed, satisfying your requirements. 

Unlike freshmen, transfer students may not have as much room for elective credits, so choose your courses wisely. Work with your advisor to develop a course plan during your first-year advising appointment.

If you find yourself unsure where to turn with questions, you can always reach out to your academic advisor.