Campus Life

Class of 2025: A Penn State education will set you up for success

“This is your community now, one that will support you throughout your life” states President Barron during a virtual event for the Class of 2025 accepted students

Penn State President Eric Barron and other University leaders and community members took part in "Class of 2025: A Virtual 'Welcome to the Penn State Community' on March 25.  Credit: Patrick Mansell / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State held a livestream event for accepted students and their families, as well as students and families considering applying to Penn State, “Class of 2025: A Virtual ‘Welcome to the Penn State Community,’” featuring Penn State President Eric J. Barron alongside other University leaders, faculty members and students. 

The hourlong discussion explored topics including Penn State’s flexibility to meet students’ individual needs, the many opportunities available as part of the Penn State student experience, the strength of the University community and the value of a Penn State education. The archived live event can be viewed at

Barron was joined by Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs; Jackie Edmondson, chancellor at Penn State Greater Allegheny; Clarence Lang, the Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts and professor of African American studies; Scarlett Miller, director of Penn State’s engineering design program and associate professor of engineering design and industrial engineering; Ninad Mahajan, student in the class of 2021; Erin Boas, student in the class of 2022 and; Janiyah Davis, student in the class of 2023.

Barron provided an inspirational welcome to students and spoke about Penn State’s plan for a phased return over the summer semester to a full on-campus learning environment for fall. “What a wonderful position you are in to start thinking about the experience that awaits you here in the summer and fall — and over the next four years. Today, as we look ahead to all the possibilities that being together as a community offers, we are excited to highlight what this means for you.” Barron added, “When you come to Penn State, you are joining a community of people dedicated to bringing positive impact to humanity. It is no surprise that we are in the ranks of our nation’s top one percent of universities. We are a community that looks out for one another and cheers each other on toward success — this is your community now, one that will support you throughout your lives.”

Sims spoke about some of the many ways students connect with one another and build community through student activities. “What I know with absolute certainty is that no university in this country has a student body that’s more deeply attached to it than Penn State.” In giving a glimpse into the range of options available across 1000+ student organizations at Penn State, Sims emphasized, “If there’s something you have never tried, Penn State is the place to stretch yourself, to discover new skills and interests and to make new friends in the process...The next four years promise each of you the magic that is the Penn State student experience.” 

Edmondson, reflecting on the Penn State community she’s long been a part of, provided additional insight into the ways that students connect and learn from one another across the University’s campuses. “Penn State’s community is one of the most welcoming and supportive you’re going to find anywhere. Our faculty and staff work really hard to build community both in and out of the classroom.” As an example, Edmondson discussed how some students get engaged in important research as undergraduates, and the process of learning allows them to develop close connections with faculty and other students at Penn State, while also establishing a network of peers around the world.

To help students further envision the learning environment at Penn State, Lang talked about the University’s stellar faculty and scholars and its world-class instructors who create knowledge in their fields and help students explore their individual passions. Lang explained how at Penn State “what happens in the classroom and what happens outside the classroom contribute to career readiness in terms of preparing students for multiple and diverse career trajectories — so that they can build not just meaningful careers but also meaningful lives.”

As director of the research group, Britelab, Miller pointed to the types of hands-on learning and research experiences that students can enjoy as undergraduates and shared how she helps students explore real-life applications of course concepts, highlighting an initiative sponsored by the National Institutes of Health in which students are involved in the development of a robot to help train surgeons. “We really are trying to show our students that they can revolutionize the field, and they can shape their future, education and research experiences at Penn State. Our faculty are pioneers in their fields, and they’re game changers in their domains, and we really try to instill that idea of game-changing into our students to empower them to go out and do that as well.”

Panelists included, clockwise from top left: Erin Boas, student in the class of 2022; Ninad Mahajan, student in the class of 2021; Clarence Lang, the Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts and professor of African American studies; Jackie Edmondson, chancellor at Penn State Greater Allegheny; Scarlett Miller, director of Penn State’s engineering design program and associate professor of engineering design and industrial engineering; Janiyah Davis, student in the class of 2023; Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Mahajan described how new students find their place within the larger Penn State community by joining student organizations and getting to know others who share similar interests, values and passions. Referencing his own student council position, he talked about peer-to-peer support for incoming classes, “We have helped these students find their place at Penn State — we have served as mentors, guided students in picking classes and helped them get involved in clubs that really interest them.” Mahajan added, “Once you find the things you love to do, you’ll naturally settle into your personal community and the whole Penn State community as well.”

Expanding on the topic of student involvement, Boas talked about the enjoyment she had in discovering meaningful activities when she went to Penn State’s Involvement Fair as a freshman. “There are so many experiences and ways to get involved at Penn State, and it’s okay to go in not knowing exactly what you’re going to be doing because that’s the best part of discovering who you are and learning and growing more academically, professionally and personally.”

Davis provided insight into her own experiences, highlighting how students can make a difference in the areas that matter most to them, with a community behind them. Talking about the ways that Penn State supports students in discovering, honing and pursuing their passions, Davis said, “This is the only place that could give me the opportunity to do everything that I feel passionate about and to my fullest potential — making an impact, as opposed to just being a part of something.”

Barron acknowledged that the pandemic has made for an atypical senior year of high school for many and emphasized that Penn State is ready to support students in their paths. “We help students — of all backgrounds and circumstances — accomplish their academic goals. And we are committed to helping you move through your college experience on your expected timeline.” Barron continued, “While we’re a large university, we take an individualized approach to each student to help them succeed.” 

Lang explained the value in a Penn State education, sharing that employers today want to know of potential employees: “Is this person curious, does this person think critically, can this person work independently, is this person comfortable engaging with people unlike themselves?” Lang pointed to the opportunity for students to develop these skillsets at Penn State, adding, “The idea of being adaptable, being comfortable with creative change is increasingly an important quality and if you allow yourself the opportunity to explore and experiment…you will find your path to many different trajectories after Penn State.”

The "Class of 2025: A 'Virtual Welcome to the Penn State Community'" on March 25 covered topics including Penn State’s flexibility to meet students’ individual needs, the many opportunities available as part of the Penn State student experience, the strength of the University community and the value of a Penn State education. Credit: Patrick Mansell / Penn StateCreative Commons

Sims described some of the ways that Penn State assists students in securing jobs and succeeding after graduation, from individual advising to University-wide career fairs throughout the year. “Whenever I talk with representatives of companies that come to Penn State in search of new employees among our students, they consistently tell me that they know when they come here that they will interact with students who are academically well-prepared. They also know they are likely going to find some of the most engaged students at Penn State. It’s that engagement outside the classroom that often sets our students apart from others.”

Edmondson talked about Penn State’s flexibility to meet individual needs and the many paths to a Penn State degree. With twenty undergraduate campuses positioned throughout the state, students can remain at a campus for four years or take advantage of the 2+2 Plan to transition to another Penn State campus or campuses. Students can call an admissions counselor and reach out to a campus to explore their specific circumstances and questions.

Before the end of the discussion, Barron asked each of the participants to sum up how they feel about the Penn State community in one word. Edmondson offered “life-changing,” elaborating, “I’m a Penn State alumna, a first-generation college student, and Penn State has changed my life in so many ways. I’ve also seen first-hand how it changes the lives of so many others in the twenty-one years I have worked here, including students, faculty, staff and the communities where our campuses are located.”

In his closing remarks, Barron expressed his enthusiasm for the newest cohort of students joining the University community and having the opportunity to thrive and accomplish their dreams at Penn State. “While the world may still be dealing with uncertainties, we want you to know we are prepared and ready for you. A Penn State education and experience is really very special. And we are committed to you and every Penn Stater.”

The event is archived and viewable online on the website. For individual questions, students may contact Penn State Undergraduate Admissions at or 1-814-865-5471.


Last Updated March 26, 2021