Join Us First-Year Students

Thank you for your interest in the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State!

The Honors College promotes achieving academic excellence with integrity, building a global perspective, and creating opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. Our student body is dynamic, diverse, and driven to change the world for the better.

We offer highly motivated high school students a rigorous undergraduate academic experience that combines all of the resources of one of the country's largest research institutions with all the benefits of a small liberal arts college.

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Schreyer Scholar Marlisa Shaw in a lab

More Than A Test Score Application Components


To apply to the Schreyer Honors College, you'll need to complete two separate applications: the Penn State undergraduate application and the Schreyer Honors College application. We suggest you work on both applications at the same time, submitting the Penn State application first, and the Schreyer Honors College application second.

Application Platforms

The link to the Schreyer Honors College application will be displayed in the application portal once you indicate your interest in the Honors College.

MyPennState Common Application

Top Tips

Your Penn State and Schreyer applications are evaluated separately; decisions are made independently on the two applications.

Use whichever application platform you prefer, just remember to leave enough time to submit by the deadline!

Essay Questions

The Schreyer Honors College first-year application will have two essay questions, in addition to several shorter prompts. These questions change on a yearly basis and are meant to elicit well-written, comprehensive responses. Each essay response has a maximum word count of 800 words.

The essay questions are an opportunity to present your best self to the review committee, and there is no right answer to the prompts. Rather, reviewers will consider how or why you take a specific approach to each question looking for well-reasoned, consistent, and persuasive responses.

2024 Essay Questions
  • Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could take to identify a solution.
  • Isaac Asimov wrote: “Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.” Do you agree? Is such censorship ever justified? If not, explain why. If so, who or what should determine which books are read and which books are forbidden.

Top Tips

Get started on your essays early — they are released on our website in July.

There is no right or wrong essay answer — just answer the question to the best of your ability. Our questions are designed to push you to think, do some research, and apply your knowledge. Be honest, be genuine, and allow your character and personality shine through your writing.

Short Answer Questions

The Schreyer Honors College asks a handful of short answer questions to obtain information regarding honors and achievements, leadership positions, activities and service. These questions have a 200 word limit and may change without notice, so please be sure to check back before starting your application.

2024 Short Answer Questions
  • What do you hope to get at Penn State as a Schreyer Scholar to help you accomplish your future goals and aspirations?
  • If you were able to go anywhere in the world, outside of the country you currently reside, where would you go and why?
  • Tell us about your leadership experiences (community roles, family contributions, research, clubs, organizations, etc.) and why leadership is important to you. Describe the challenges and/or successes you’ve faced in these roles.
  • List awards or other recognitions you have received in or outside of school over the last 4 years. Which award or recognition means the most to you and why.
  • Tell us about a book or other media that has made you think about something in a new way.
  • Consider a time when you had to collaborate with individuals from diverse backgrounds or with different perspectives. How did this experience contribute to your personal growth and understanding of others?
  • Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups, including: shared geography, faith, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities or groups to which you belong and describe how it has influenced your life over the last four years.
  • Please use this space to share information you would like us to consider that has not been discussed elsewhere in your Schreyer Honors College application. This could include obstacles you’ve overcome, something you’re proud of that is not discussed elsewhere, or anything else you choose.

Top Tips

Want to share your creative talents and accomplishments? You're welcome to submit this information electronically via the last short answer question.

As with the essay questions, we want to get to know who you really are. Let the true you shine through.


As part of the Schreyer Honors College application process, potential Scholars are required to submit a minimum of two and a maximum of 4 letters of recommendation. Recommendations can be from a teacher, a guidance counselor, a coach, or club advisor.

Common Application

If your school uses a system that connects to the Common App and you applied to Penn State through the Common App, your letters of recommendation that you submitted through your school's system or via the Common App will be sent to the Honors College. No further action is necessary.

If you are working with a recommender who is not affiliated with your school and they cannot submit a letter of recommendation through your school's system, please follow the directions below.

Alternate Instructions

If one of your recommenders is unable to submit their letter of recommendation via the Common App, Naviance or SCOIR, please follow the instructions below.

Please be considerate by giving your recommender ample time to complete and submit recommendations on your behalf. Also, please do not ask recommenders to upload recommendations via multiple methods as this will greatly slow down the processing of your application.

The methods outline above are the only methods through which letters of recommendation will be received. Please do not send recommendations to the Penn State Undergraduate Admissions Office as doing so will delay processing of the documents.

Note: It is solely the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all required documents are received by the final deadline of December 4 at 11:59 PM EST.

Naviance and Common Application logos

Schools that participate with Naviance or use The Common Application may upload recommendations to Penn State through these portals.

Alternatively, letters may be sent via e-mail to

Self-Reported Academic Record

Your Self-Reported Academic Record (SRAR) must be submitted as part of your Penn State application. This process replaces having school counselors send academic transcripts for each applicant.

The Schreyer Honors College will review and rate your academic record as it relates to the opportunities offered at your particular high school.

We do not use standardized test scores in our evaluation as we've found them to be an inaccurate predictor of student success. 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.

Top Tips

Make sure to enter your grades exactly as they appear on your high school transcript.

If you are offered admission to Penn State, your final high school transcript will be sent to the University.

Optional Alumni Interview

If we receive your application by November 1, you will be invited to participate in an optional interview as part of the selection process.

The goal of this interview is to have a comfortable conversation with one of our alumni volunteers. They are eager to meet you, learn more about your interest in the Schreyer Honors College and share with you some of their Penn State experiences.

Please note that as this is an optional interview, your application will not be negatively impacted if you are not able to participate.

Top Tips

Our admissions interview is not intended to make you nervous or afraid — our alumni just want to have a conversation with you and get to know you better.

Interviews usually last half an hour, keep that in mind and use this time wisely.

Stay on Track First-Year Admission Checklist

Use this at-a-glance checklist to keep your Schreyer application on track.

June & July

  • Visit Penn State & the Schreyer Honors College

    There is no better way to see if a college is right for you than by setting foot on campus and getting a feel for the place. Not able to visit in the summer? Don't worry — Penn State has visitations year-round!

    Visit Schreyer
  • Begin Working on Your Essays

    The Schreyer Honors College essay questions are posted in mid-July to give you plenty of time to craft well-written, comprehensive responses by our application deadlines.

    View Essay Questions
  • Create a MyPennState Account

    Create a MyPennState account, and explore the Penn State University undergraduate application website. Learn about application requirements, academics, student life, and costs. Plus, you can chat with a current Penn State student.

    Create Your Account


  • Schreyer and Penn State Applications Open

    The Penn State undergraduate admissions application and the Schreyer Honors College application open on August 1. There are two portals available through which you can apply to both Penn State and the Schreyer Honors College — MyPennState and the Common Application. Students are encouraged to indicate their interest in applying to the Schreyer Honors College on the Common Application. If a student indicates they are not interested in applying or would like to apply at a later date and have submitted their Penn State undergraduate admissions application they can still access the Schreyer Honors College application through MyPennState.

    MyPennState Common Application


  • Attend Scholars Day

    This annual fall open house gives you a comprehensive look at what Penn State and the Schreyer Honors College have to offer.

    Visit Schreyer

October & November

  • Penn State Early Action & Optional Interview Deadline

    The early application deadline for Penn State is November 1. Students who apply by this date will receive a decision from the University by December 24.

    If you submit your application by 11:59 PM EST on November 1, you will be eligible to schedule an optional alumni interview. Please note that only your application is due by this date; your letters of recommendation may come later.

    Note: All the materials for the Schreyer Honors College application must be submitted online. If you wish to submit applications that are audio or visual representations of your work, publish them online and include links in the appropriate section of the Honors College application. No offline material will be accepted or reviewed.

    MyPennState Common Application
  • Admissions Interview Signup Opens

    The Admissions Interview portal will open for students who have submitted their Honors College application. Interview spaces are limited and assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. All interviews must be scheduled and completed between November 10 and January 16.

    Schedule an Interview


  • Final Application Submission Deadline

    If you weren't able to finish the application by the priority deadline in November, our final submission deadline is December 4. In order to meet this deadline, you must have submitted an application for both Penn State and the Schreyer Honors College and have submitted all of the required documentation for both applications by December 4 at 11:59 PM EST.

    MyPennState Common Application
  • Recommendation Letters

    All letters of recommendation must be submitted online by December 4 at 11:59 PM EST.


  • Admissions Decision

    Look for your Schreyer Honors College admission decision online in mid February to early March. We'll notify you in advance by e-mail of the date and time our admissions decisions go live. Good luck!

    If you have been accepted to Penn State, consider waiting until you have your Schreyer decision to schedule your accepted student visit.

    View Your Decision

March & April

  • Accepted Student Receptions

    If you have been accepted to the Schreyer Honors College, consider attending one of our many Accepted Student Receptions held in March and April. Information regarding these events will be posted online.


What We Look For Application Review Process

While the Penn State Undergraduate Admissions Office will evaluate your credentials for admission to the University, the Schreyer Honors College will conduct its own evaluation. These evaluations are conducted completely independently of each other, however, your entrance into the Honors College depends on receiving an offer from Penn State.

Schreyer is ultimately looking for well-rounded students that excel both inside and outside of the classroom. We pride ourselves on fostering a diverse community of difference makers here in the Honors College and keep that in mind as we review applications.

Selection Committee

As part of your evaluation, your application will be read by at least two members of our Selection Committee. Applications are assigned to these readers randomly and are anonymized as much as possible. Selection Committee members will read and rate (via a norming process) all of their assigned applications. These ratings, along with reader comments, are used to help determine your admissions decision.

Optional Admissions Interview

If you apply by the optional interview date (November 1), you will have the opportunity to request an optional admissions interview with a Scholar alumnus/alumna. Interview availability is offered on a first-come, first-served basis, so please register as soon as possible if you are interested. Every attempt will be made to match alumni volunteers with applicants, but due to alumni availability, the College cannot guarantee that every request will be honored.

Alumni interviewers are asked to submit ratings and comments based on the conversation they have with you. Just be yourself and let your passion shine through. The interview is also an opportunity for applicants to learn more about life as a Scholar at Penn State.

Please note that alumni interviews are completely optional. The applications of students who do not select or were unable to participate in the optional alumni interview are not negatively impacted. Final admissions decisions are based on the material submitted as part of the student application.

Schreyer Garden sign
Schreyer Scholar Matt Tracey

My family has always loved Penn State and to be able to take this love along with the fact that Penn State is a top research university is amazing. This combined with fact that Schreyer has a culture of independent thinking and an emphasis on a global perspective allows me to see my education as being much bigger than me.

Matt Tracey ' 19 Biochemistry and Microbiology

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