1. We Want to Hear from Two Recommenders
We require at least two recommendation letters from your teachers. There is an option to submit more than two letters; however, you are not obligated to do so.
2. If You Have Questions, Let Us Know
We do not keep track of the amount of times you contact us or visit campus. Our admissions office is open throughout the week with staff who would love to help answer any of your questions or concerns; however, your amount and/or consistency of outreach will not help or harm your likelihood of admission.
3. Our Interview is Optional
Yes, our interview is optional. Current and former Scholars have identified the interview process as an opportunity to learn more about the Honors College. If you opt in to the interview, you will have the chance to talk to one of our graduates and learn more about their experiences on campus—in turn, they'll also learn more about you. If you decide not to interview, that's okay too.
4. Essays—There's Really No Right or Wrong Answer
Our best advice for the essays? Answer the question to the best of your ability. We are not trying to trick you, nor are we looking for a particular type of answer. Our questions are designed to push you to think and we hope to gain greater insight about you. Be honest, be genuine, and allow your character and personality to shine through your writing.
5. Check Your E-Mail Frequently
E-mail is the primary way we will communicate with you, especially after you submit your application. We are on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, just like you, but our admissions messages are sent directly to your e-mail address, so check it often.
6. It's True, We Don't Utilize Standardized Test Scores
Contrary to popular belief, we do not utilize standardized test scores when determining admission to the Schreyer Honors College. In our opinion, one of the best predictors of future performance is prior performance; therefore, your course load and academic rigor in high school are the most important pieces of information we review.
7. Keep an Eye on Important Deadlines
To ensure efficient results, keep an eye on approaching deadlines. The absolute final deadline to submit admissions material is December 20 at 11:59 PM EST. In order to maintain an equitable process, we are unable to make any exceptions.
Note: The deadline for submitting recommendations has been extended to 11:59 PM EST on January 9.
8. Triple-Check Recommendation Submission
We know the process of submitting college applications can be confusing, so we want to make it easy for you and your recommenders. Remember to ask your teachers if they are willing to write your recommendation and follow up with them before the application deadline. Include your recommender's e-mail address in your application and we will send them a message explaining how to submit the letter. Unfortunately, we do not accept letters through Naviance or other external services; therefore, all letters must be submitted directly through our web application.
9. Don't Wait, Apply Now
Please do not wait until you've received your Penn State admissions decision before applying to the Honors College. In fact, you can work on both applications at the same time. Submit Penn State's application first, followed by ours, then enjoy your senior year!
10. We Enjoy Hearing from Future Scholars
In terms of the college admissions process, it is more helpful and beneficial to hear directly from the applicant. If you have any questions about your application or the process, please contact us directly. Between classes, at the end of the school day, before practice or after work, feel free to call us with questions or just to check in.
Notice how the subject of this essay weaves an extracurricular, a challenge, and personality traits into one supplement. A good way to see if your chosen activity would make for an effective essay is to see if it illustrates many facets of yourself.
It is also important to choose something that you have not discussed in detail yet. If your common application essay was about debate and you already have it listed in your activities and awards section, it would be a good idea to discuss something that the admissions team can’t simply look up elsewhere on your application. Hobbies, for example, would make for interesting and unique essays.
If you choose to write about a job or an internship, the same guidelines for the extracurricular apply. It would also be beneficial if the skills you gained in your work experience apply to the major or profession you would want to pursue at Penn State.
For instance, if you are applying as an education major and you worked at a restaurant during the school year, you could discuss how working with people taught you how to be patient, how communication was a key part of customer service, and how you frequently had to juggle multiple tasks at one time. Even though a career in education and a job at a restaurant are not exactly the same, the skills you’ve acquired will make you more successful in the career of your choice.
If you write about a challenge or obstacle, it is important to be wary of the sob story. Sob stories are a common college application mistake, in which the writer discusses a tragedy or hardship that is meant to make the reader feel bad, but does not effectively demonstrate how the hardship affected the writer and changed him/her, or how the writer overcame it.
Instead, focus on how you faced the challenge and how it changed you, but do not let it define your high school career. This would also be a good place to subtly explain any irregularities in your academic record. For example, if your grades in junior year were much lower than usual because your mother fell ill, you could write about how you gained a newfound appreciation for your mother after you were tasked with taking care of your younger siblings in her absence.
Notice how this example still discusses a tragic event, but it better demonstrates the writer’s maturity as a result of the event. Even though it is not explicitly mentioned that the mother’s illness contributed to the drop in grades, the admissions team will gain a new insight into the experiences that have shaped who you are and affected the parts they can see, like your academic record. Make sure to then highlight how this newfound maturity and evolution of character impacted you and would continue to impact you in college and beyond.
Writing about a characteristic or personality trait is a little more difficult, but would also make for a unique and standout essay. You can do this by exposing your traits through your work in an extracurricular, job, or experience, or you can delve into a memory in your essay that solely focuses on the trait.
For example, if you think that you would be a good fit for Penn State because you thrive in community-oriented environments and you love the community-focused atmosphere at Penn State, you could write about a time where you held a “Friendsgiving” and how cooking with your friends was a way of bonding and connecting.