OK, so here's the lowdown on Humboldt State. I went here all 4 years and had a great time. However, there are some things that need to be stated.
First, I noticed that I liked Humboldt less and less the longer I lived there. At first I thought everyone was open-minded and free-spirited hippies. After a while you start to realize this isn't the case. "Oh, you're not a vegan? You must not care about animals or the environment." "I studied abroad in Nepal. I really got in touch with my inner spirit." There's a lot of arrogance self-righteousness with the so-called hippie students. But, as with any school, this attitude (though prevalent) is only a small portion of the student body (just avoid the quad on a sunny day if you can't stand these kinda people).
Con: The other concern of mine was the lack of gay friendly attitudes on the campus and in the community. Though Humboldt State has many wonderful resources for queer folks, one does not need to travel far to get stares and called nasty names. Let's just say I got yelled "faggot" at me a lot by the more conservative folks outside the Arcata bubble. Also, being in such a small community, the dating options for gay men are pretty slim. From what I've noticed though, Humboldt has a fabulous lesbian population (for example, all my female Humboldt friends).
Con: A lot of the classes were jokes. Sometimes the professors would go on political rants that had nothing to do with the subject we were studying. I had a math professor who started talking about the Founding Fathers and went on for a good 15 minutes. It's not that it wasn't interesting; it just wasn't math. I had other professors who were more interested in showing off how cool and cultured and well-traveled they were than actually expanding the minds of their students. Sometimes all I had to do was half-ass a 7-page paper and get full credit just because I did it and my citations looked pretty relevant.
Con: This place is cliquey. It's small and people find their niches pretty fast and don't seem to leave them. Maybe I'm just weird but I never found my niche. I made friends, sure, but never had the group sense of community. However, if you are into yoga, rock climbing, organic farming, or the like you will find your niche so fast, and make so many friends in the process that your head will be spinning.
OK, now that I've turned you off of Humboldt State, time for the pros!
Pro: Oh my god, I love the weather here. Coming from San Jose, Humboldt's cool crisp weather, the rolling fog, the gentle rain...it's kind of soothing. Plus it makes everything green and beautiful. Summers are never too hot. Winters are never too cold. If there's one thing I miss more than anything else it's the weather.
Pro: People are friendly. Yes, I can complain about self-righteous hippies and cliquey folks, but if you ask someone a question they will brighten up, smile, and give you an answer that takes 5 minutes. People will wave to you when you are walking down the street. Local baristas will make you amazing drinks and do so with a smile and a genuine "have a nice day!" Even the ever-prevalent gutter punks and transients will start up a friendly chat with you (erg...sometimes...other times they can be pretty aggressive...especially when parents, my parents in particular, are visiting.)
Pro: While some classes are jokes, other classes are mind-blowing. Some professors are passionate about their subject and their passionate about their students. They want you to learn. They want to help you. And they love when you visit them during office hours. I have some professors I still keep in touch with and whom I consider more to be friends than professors. I highly recommend any Religious Studies class, any Film class, and just about any History class.
Pro: Lots of outdoorsy stuff...and lots of artsy stuff. If you like to hike, bike, climb, backpack, camp, or do anything outdoors, you will be in heaven. The school has all kinds of outings and affordable activities. Also, HSU gets some pretty big acts coming through. When I was there I got to see Fleet Foxes, They Might Be Giants, Bright Eyes, and Mike Birbiglia. Also, all kind of acts come through Arcata and Eureka. If you love art and crowds Arts Alive in Eureka is always fun (especially the December one).
Pro: If you're awkward and shy like me, you will still make friends and still have fun. There are cute little coffee shops you can hang out in and have a drink and play a game of chess. There are fun potlucks. There are dive bars. And the best part is, it's always low-key. You don't have to dress up and no one cares about your status. No one cares if you're in a frat or a sorority. No one cares if you are an honors student. No one cares where you're from or what you are studying. Buy them a beer and compliment their flannel shirt and they will be your buddy all night long. OK, so now I've told you all I know. Pretty mixed message, huh? Well, nothing is clean and cut. There's no definitive good or bad when it comes to picking a college. Go with your gut. My gut told me to go to Humboldt and I don't regret it one bit. Good luck!