Pre-Arrival Guide

Pre-Arrival Guide

Congratulations on being offered admission to Penn State!  Once you accept the offer of admission, please do the following:

Step 1: Get your visa

To obtain your visa, take care of the following pre-arrival processes.

Step 2: Read the Orientation brochure

  • Read the Orientation brochure carefully.  It will be emailed to you after you are sent the offer of admission.
  • ALL international students must arrive in the United States NO LATER THAN SUNDAY, AUGUST 12, 2018 and attend the International Student Orientation (ISO), AUGUST 14 through 17, 2018.
  • Confirm your attendance at the orientation by emailing JoAnn Kelly at

Step 3: Make travel plans

  • Philadelphia International Airport is about 30 miles from Penn State Great Valley and our suggested orientation hotel.
  • Purchase an airline ticket to Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) or make driving plans if you are already in the United States.
  • We encourage you to stay at the suggested hotel during the orientation and have reserved a block of rooms at the Sonesta Hotel in Malvern.  Refer to the Orientation brochure for information about getting the hotel discount.
  • Reserve your transportation from the airport to the hotel or housing (about 30 miles – about an hour without traffic).  Information on various forms of transportation can be found in the Orientation brochure.

Step 4: Make arrangements for housing

  • Begin to look for permanent housing options for the school year.  Many students choose to live close to campus in the William Henry Apartments in Malvern, Pennsylvania and the Westgate Village Apartments in Frazer, Pa. Other students live in areas along the regional rail line (SEPTA) that runs from Center City Philadelphia, along the “Main Line” to Malvern. The campus runs a shuttle to those two apartment complexes, as well as to the Paoli Train Station, when classes are in session.
  • You can connect with other students who are looking for a roommate through the online chats we offer periodically for international students.

Step 5: Complete online document check-in

  • Log into iStart to view the Pre-Arrival Checklist and select "Mandatory Document Check-In."
  • Complete the questions and upload scanned copies of the requested documents.
  • Make sure to sign your I-20 or DS-2019 before scanning it.
  • After your arrival in the U.S., obtain your I-94 arrival information online and save it as a PDF document before uploading it to iStart.
  • Update your local address (where you sleep while you are a student at Penn State) on your student records in LionPATH and iStart.
  • Email if you need help.

Step 6: Fulfill immunization compliance and mandatory health insurance

  • All incoming students must submit proof of immunization prior to their arrival on campus.
  • Review the immunization requirements and how to submit the immunization verification form found on the University Health Services website.
  • Health insurance is mandatory for all students in F1 and J1 status and their accompanying dependents.
  • Students are required to purchase the Penn State Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) or submit proof of health insurance coverage that meets a set of requirements found on the University Health Services website.

Step 7: Prepare for life at your new home

  • Find out more about the area: 
  • Philadelphia, PA and Surrounding Counties
  • Read our guide for international students, the “Orientation brochure,” which is emailed to students after they are offered admission.

Step 8: Travel to Penn State Great Valley

  • Keep your passport, I-20 or DS-2019, money and other valuables with you at all times.
  • Familiarize yourself with the U.S. arrival process.
  • If your airline loses your luggage, complete a lost luggage report at your final airport with the local address where it should be delivered.
  • You may feel “jet lagged” when you arrive, so plan your arrival to allow time to recover from your jet lag before the orientation begins.

Welcome to Penn State Great Valley!

Questions or concerns? Contact JoAnn Kelly at