Penn State Schreyer Essay Questions

Answers to many of our commonly asked questions can be found below. Additionally, you can watch the recording of "Ask the Dean" — a video chat which took place on Monday, November 17 that features the Dean of the Honors College, current Scholars, and several staff members. The video runs approximately 35 minutes and includes a chat feature that you can scroll through.

How is Schreyer different from Penn State?

Students in the Schreyer Honors College are, first and foremost, Penn State students and experience everything this great University offers.

But there are distinct opportunities afforded to Schreyer Scholars. Among them:

  • Academic enrichment including honors courses, exclusive study abroad programs, and research placements.
  • Dedicated honors housing in two residence halls that establish a vibrant setting for learning and living.
  • The distinction of graduating with honors from Penn State upon successful completion of the SHC's academic requirements. Just five percent of the undergraduate students enrolled at Penn State are members of the Schreyer Honors College and can earn that distinction.
How do I apply?

The Schreyer application is available through the general Penn State Undergraduate Admissions application. Our recommended filing date is November 30th with a firm deadline of December 20th.

Does Schreyer offer Early Decision?

Neither Penn State nor Schreyer offers early decision. You have until May 1st to accept any offer.

What SAT scores should I have to be considered?

The Schreyer Honors College's philosophy is that standardized test scores do not adequately predict the likelihood of a prospective student's success as a Schreyer Scholar. Given that, standardized test scores are not evaluated as part of the SHC's application process.

However, please keep in mind that standardized test scores are required for the Penn State application.

And once the incoming class of Scholars enrolls each fall, the Schreyer Honors College does report the standardized test scores of the first-year class in its annual report.

Are interviews required?

If you submit your completed Schreyer Honors College application by November 30th, you will be offered an opportunity to interview. These interviews are not mandatory, and you can decline with no penalty. All interviews are conducted by honors alumni and will be offered within a reasonable distance of the student's hometown where possible.

Can I start in the summer?

Yes, Schreyer Scholars may start in the summer. Please keep in mind the classes you take in the summer will not count as honors credit but will count toward your degree requirements.

Can I be in Schreyer at a campus other than University Park?

Yes! You can begin as a Schreyer Scholar at any of Penn State's 20 undergraduate campuses. You can also graduate as a Scholar from seven of them — University Park, Abington, Altoona, Brandywine, Behrend (Erie), Harrisburg, and Berks. For all of the other campuses, after your first two years, you will need to transition to a campus that offers your specific degree.

Is financial aid available?

All Scholars who enter in their first year will receive a $5,000 annual scholarship renewable for all four years of your undergraduate education. Schreyer also has additional grants and scholarships available for experiences such as travel abroad, research, etc.

Do you accept AP/IB credits?

Penn State accepts credits depending on your exam score. You can find details on the Getting Penn State Credit section of the Admissions website. Please keep in mind the credits will not count as honors credits but will apply toward your degree requirements.

Should I live in honors housing?

You are not required to live in honors housing at University Park, but approximately 95% of each first-year class does elect to do so. Benefits of living in honors housing include the location on campus, being near your peers and Schreyer staff, etc. If you live in honors housing your first year, you are guaranteed honors housing all four years at University Park, provided you complete the housing contract paperwork in a timely fashion each year.

Can I double major? I might also be interested in a minor.

Yes, you can double major, triple major, even quadruple major! Approximately 25% of Schreyer Scholars have a double major. You can add minors, as well. Penn State has about 200 minors, and about 30% of Schreyer Scholars are pursuing at least one minor.

What study abroad opportunities are available?

Penn State offers about 300 study abroad programs in more than 50 countries. Scholars can pursue those programs or the exclusive opportunities within the honors college. There are generally five to ten exclusive programs for Scholars every year. Locations often include London, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Greece, etc. Approximately 45% of Scholars participate in study abroad.

What requirements do I have to maintain in Schreyer?

Scholars must maintain a 3.4 GPA while at Penn State to be in good standing with Schreyer. Should you drop below a 3.4, you do have a semester to bring it up. Scholars are also required to have 35 honors credits by the time they graduate. Those credits are spread out over your four years and can equate to two honors classes per semester. Scholars are also required to submit a thesis approximately one month prior to graduation.

I want to do an internship or co-op. How do I access those opportunities?

Internships and co-ops are required by some majors, but not all. Regardless of the requirements, you will have support from faculty, your adviser, the Schreyer Honors College Career Services Coordinator, etc. to ensure you're able to take advantage of all the opportunities you are interested in.

Will I be stuck in my room studying? Will I be able to do anything else?

You will only be stuck in your room studying if you choose to do so! You are welcome and encouraged to explore the many sides of Penn State, which includes clubs, activities, organizations, Greek life, etc. Your experience will be what you make of it!

What's it like in State College, PA?

State College is the quintessential college town. Although it is not an urban setting, it has plenty of amenities for dining, shopping, and recreation.

The compelling and controversial Netflix series "13 Reasons Why" will be the starting point for an ethics discussion hosted by the Schreyer Honors College from 9:15 to 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 18, in 100 Thomas Building on the University Park campus of Penn State.

This event is open only to Schreyer Honors College students. 

Panelists include Pearl Gluck, assistant professor of film and video in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications; Peggy Lorah, assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion for Student Affairs and professor of women’s studies; Erin Farley, cocurricular programs coordinator for the Gender Equity Center; Katie Tenny, Penn State bystander intervention coordinator; Steve Sampsell, director of strategic communications for the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications; and James Tierney, economics lecturer in the College of the Liberal Arts.

Gluck, who is working on several film projects that address the roles of passive bystanders and of “upstanders” – those who intervene when they recognize something is wrong – in various situations, was inspired by reading essay applications of prospective Schreyer students. At a luncheon for faculty readers this past winter, she suggested a question framed around a popular piece of media for a discussion.

"13 Reasons Why," based on a 2007 novel of the same name, revolves around a high school student, Clay Jensen, and his friend Hannah Baker, a girl who committed suicide. The series examines not just Baker’s story but the stories of the characters around her and how their actions – or inactions – affected her and one another.

“The level of protection that we might try to give to questions of hate and violence and ignorance, that’s over,” Gluck said. “We must engage and we must speak out. And that means helping begin a conversation about what they’re going to be asking, which is the ethics of decision-making. When are you going to get engaged? When are you going to speak out?

“I think it’s a powerful question and I’m excited about what the students have to say, because they’re the ones on the front lines.”

Schreyer Honors Orientation – or SHO TIME, as it is known by students and staff – is a three-day welcome event for the incoming class that has been held each August since 2006 and this year runs from Wednesday, Aug. 16 through Friday, Aug. 18. A group of nearly 100 returning students serve as mentors for an incoming group of more than 300 first-year students. Activities include presentations by Penn State faculty, team-building exercises and a late-night trivia competition.

Each year, the college strives to include an ethics discussion as part of SHO TIME.

“This one particularly is very relevant for the students, primarily because a lot of the issues that we are going to be talking about in the session and from the video clips from the series are very relevant to their daily lives,” said Schreyer Honors College Associate Dean for Student Affairs Mitch Kirsch. “They’re difficult to talk about – sexual assault, alcohol, drug abuse, bullying – but they’re situations they’ve dealt with in high school and will certainly deal with when they come to Penn State.”

“It’s the only time we have a captive audience,” Kirsch added, “and we take the opinion that if we can address some of these issues and help them think about them in this context before they go to class the first day, hopefully it will enable them to make good decisions and be empowered to stand up for each other in future situations.”

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