UNIVERSITY PARK — Ron Saile’s 18-year-old son Andrew is the tech guy in their home in Albany, N.Y.
He has the sound wired up, docking stations for music gadgets, the Internet cables configured, and he’s taking the knowledge of how everything works with him from home in upstate New York to Penn State.
The Sailes were among the thousands who, in hulking SUVs full of their children’s most prized possessions, arrived Friday in the parking lots throughout campus for the start of the move-in weekend ahead of Monday’s official start of the fall semester.
This year’s freshman class at University Park is about a little more than 8,400, or 4.5 percent higher than last year, said spokeswoman Lisa Powers. That number will likely decline, as historically there have been students who end up not showing up to start school.
Ron Saile had wheeled a fourth bin of his son’s belongings into Curtin Hall in the East Halls complex when it started to rain Friday morning. This round had the carpet, DVDs and other electronics.
For the father, he was seeing off his youngest of three children and his only son. “It’s a little sad,” the father said. “He’s the last one.”
Pat and Karen Scullion, of Glastonbury, Conn., had snagged the same kind of bin for their son Scott’s belongings. A woman whose family had finished up offered theirs to the Scullions, and they took it so they could be twice as efficient.
The son is moving into supplemental housing in Curtin Hall, and he’ll have, for now, three other roommates. He’ll get a permanent dorm room when one opens up, but there’s no telling how soon that will be, he said.
Scott Scullion is the first in his family to come to Penn State, and he said he’s looking forward to football games — although he missed the chance to buy season tickets — and studying aerospace engineering. The engineering program here sold him on choosing Penn State, he said, and the controversy surrounding Penn State from the NCAA had no bearing.
“I didn’t really pay attention to it all,” he said.
Johnny Pons, who works with the New Life ministry at Penn State, was giving the Scullions a hand. He helped them unload their SUV and haul the son’s belongings inside. Pons handed the freshman his business card, offering him rides or help as he gets adjusted to his new surroundings.
Pons said he’s been helping out through his ministry for 24 years. He’s seen the evolution of what students bring, from no electronics to TVs and desktop computers to laptops and all kinds of smaller devices. He’s helped students who’ve overpacked, too.
“I’ve seen girls move in truckloads and say, ‘It doesn’t all fit!’ ” Pons said.
The parking lots and courtyard at the West Halls complex were calm and quiet compared to the scene at East Halls.
Anne and Jeff Powers, of Sharpsburg, Md., unloaded their Subaru hatchback with the help of son Chris, who will be a sophomore.
With one move-in day under his belt, Chris Powers left at home the various storage containers he ended up not using last year.
“(I) definitely feel like I brought a lot less. I felt like I knew what I needed and didn’t need,” he said.
The Powers family has a special tie to Penn State aside from their son, they said. Jeff Powers’ parents, Jack and Eleanor Powers, met at Penn State in the 1940s, but that’s not all.
Jeff Powers’ mom, widowed four years ago, saw in a sorority newsletter than one of her friends had died, and she wrote the widower. It turns out they struck up a relationship.
“It all boils down to Happy Valley,” Chris Powers said.