I want to start of by saying that there are people who are going to love this school, and people who are going to hate it. It depends what you like and what your beliefs are. I'm going to tell you what type of person I think would succeed at this school and what type of person I am, and therefore; What type of person I think would not enjoy this school.
Now, the first thing that I should mention is the obvious drinking culture. There will never be a night at penn state when you cannot find a party or a group of people drinking. This includes finals, spring and winter break, syllabus week, and every day of the week. I'm going to put it simple. If you don't drink and/or don't like drinking, this school is not for you. Almost the entire social life is centered around partying and drinking. When I first arrived, I thought to myself that, oh thats fine. "They" can drink, and I'll do my own thing. Well, unfortunately other than a few clubs you might be in, the only social thing is drinking. You have no social life if you do not drink. This might seem similar to most colleges, but it is not. The drinking at Penn State is centered around drinking until you pass out. It has nothing to do with breaking down social barriers, it has nothing to do with having a few drinks to "loosen up". It's about drinking until you pass out and crack your tooth on a frat basement floor (this happened to two girls i knew).
If you like drinking, and are really into that party/drinking culture. I say go for it. You'll have a blast here. Many people on my dorm loved it, and they had a great freshman year. I did not drink, and I didn't have such a fun time. There is nothing else to do. So for most of the year i sat in my dorm on the computer.
If you like sports, especially football this school is lots of fun. During football season it's pretty wild. Everyone stops studying, just to watch the games and have pizza/beer and bond watching the game. Other than football, there is soccer, basketball, volleyball, wrestling. In terms of sports, Penn State has it all. That was a big bonus for me, to be able to go and play soccer everyday (when I wasnt studying).
The next topic is education. The professors were extremely intelligent. There is no doubt about that. However, the problem is that when you have a 300 person class, its hard to get personal attention. If you learn at own, this type of education system is just fine. Being a mechanical engineering student, I had lots of work and had lots of studying to do on my own. I would spend 7-8 hours a day doing homework/studying. The week before midterms I spent 82 hours studying/homework. If you put a lot in, you can get a lot out. Of course most majors won't do this work, and a lot of engineering students won't do this much work. I, however, want an engineering program that works with me hands on, and doesn't just "feed me through the system." Of course, this is pretty obvious coming to a big state school. If you like attention, any attention at all, go to a smaller school. Some classes I felt like I was in grade school. We were given busywork. I'm not paying 45 grand a year so you can give me BS work to pass the time.
A small note on politics, Penn State is pretty conservative. Coming from Chicago, where its about 80% democrat, having majority republicans was quite a shock. If you're from the inner city, like me. I wouldn't suggest going here.
Anyways, to sum everything up. If you like the drinking party/life, this school is for you. If you are conservative/republican and/or are from suburbs/the country, this school is probably for you. If you just want to get a degree, and put in the least effort and pass, this school could work for you. I would suggest not going to this school if: You drink, are from the inner city, and are strongly democrat. Also, if you want to go to school where people really care about their education and put in lots of work, this is not it. For me, I had a terrible time. I thought the drinking culture was grotesque, I felt like a number and not a student. Even though I did well, the lack of personal attention hindered my educational growth/experience. After one year I decided to transfer. The school simply wasn't for me. I can understand how for many people they can and will have a great time, but not for all. I hope I have shown you what the school is really like and who will/won't like the shcool.