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 13, 2017 and attend the International Student Orientation (ISO), AUGUST 13 through 18, 2017, which will consist of assistance with housing, shopping, and other practical arrangements, and a welcome dinner with faculty, important information, and class registration.
  • 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 Malvern 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. Or, email us to get our most recent list of students looking for a roommate at
  • During the Orientation, the campus will arrange for you to visit local housing options if you have not yet selected housing. 

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 permanent address (outside of the U.S.) and local address (where you sleep) on your student records in LionPATH and iStart.
  • Email if you need help.

Step 6: Fulfill mandatory health care requirements

  • Arrange to have your medical records, immunization records, and prescription information translated into English and bring them with you.
  • Purchase the Penn State health insurance plan or complete a waiver by established deadline.  The Penn State student health insurance plan can be purchased at Aetna.
  • Learn about the immunizations you need and how to report them to Penn State.
  • Students will learn more about health insurance at International Student Orientation.

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 so that you can recover from your jet lag before the orientation begins.

Step 9: International Student Orientation

  • International Student Orientation is August 13 through August 18, 2017. Students must arrive in the U.S. no later than Sunday, August 13 and participate in a Welcome Dinner on Sunday, August 13 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Schedule Classes:  All students will schedule classes during orientation.
  • Check your Penn State email daily as soon as you activate your access account during ISO.

Welcome to Penn State Great Valley!

Questions or concerns? Contact JoAnn Kelly at