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Pennsylvania State University

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If you want a quality education, I wouldBrightBiology
If you want a quality education, I would suggest you avoid Penn State. While there are some outstanding professors that do care about educating the next generation of scientists and health care professionals, they are very rare. The majority of the professors at this university do not care about undergraduate students and would rather put their attention to their research. This is evident by the fact that the Millennium Science Complex (a multi-million dollar facility) does not have any space dedicated to undergraduate instruction. Classes usually do not encourage active learning or critical thinking; most classes are simply based on multiple choice exams with a professor that typically reads off lecture slides and nothing else. The fact of the matter, most (but certainly not all) of the faculty are mediocre in teaching the subject matter and will be quite condescending should you ask for explanation or clarification. Instructional labs are amongst the most poorly implemented, typically assigning tedious busy work instead of assignments that actually have value and merit. Often times in these instructional labs, you would run out of reagents because the lab coordinator would not provide the sections with enough. That is just a further reflection of how poorly they regard undergraduates. Some advisors have little to no concept of undergraduate life and oftentimes will advise students very poorly (e.g. since when is advising students to take 16+ credits of science/semester a feasible and smart piece of advice?)The only good thing I can say that relates to the academics is that research is phenomenal, but sadly education quality takes a hit because of this.

The atmosphere is a different story. Student life is great at PSU. Contrary to what a lot of people say, there is a lot of stuff to do besides drinking. There are many clubs you can get involved in; there is something for everyone at PSU and chances are you will find other students with similar interests. Football games are outrageously fun. The campus has 3 great fitness facilities (really do take advantage of this, because it is a great way to de-stress). Downtown is a nice scene, especially with the wide variety of restaurants and bars that you could go to. Then there is, of course, THON (the 46 hour dance marathon dedicated to pediatric cancer). THON really is the shining star of philanthropy and service at PSU. PSU is definitely not for everyone. If you are alright with large classes and little to no professor-student interaction, you may do well here. If you would rather have meaningful student-professor interaction that could benefit you in your schoolwork, Penn State is definitely not a school for you. I guess it also depends on your program as well so just research your particular program and do talk to current students, as they will give you the best portrayal of the school.

4th Year Male -- Class 2014
Perceived Campus Safety: A+, Education Quality: F
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I've just finished up the best school yearQuite BrightChemical Engineering
I've just finished up the best school year of my entire life. Last year, I came to Penn State thinking I would be surrounded by a cesspool of stereotypical Dumb jocks, and while that is partly true, it doesn't bother me that much anymore. This was the best year of my life

If you're an engineer, expect large gobs of work coming your way. The first sememster is manageable, but by second, you will find yourself irritated by the sheer amount of problem sets and design projects you will have to do. Make sure you schedule smaller classes with friends you've already met, or make friends with the people in your class. It will help a long way. Most people drop out of the hard sciences or engineering because of the sheer difficulty/workload involved, but if you can make it through this, you will probably find yourself with large piles of job offers in the mailbox during your senior year. Penn State has its strongest programs in Engineering, Buisness, and the pure sciences.

You may also want to incorporate the law of diminishing returns into an engineering cirriculum. If a 3.7 doesn't come to you easily and you end up with a 3.1, working twice as hard to get that 3.7 may not be worth it because of sacrifices in time, energy, social activites...You will work hard here if you choose to go into engineering, but few people are extremely competitive grade whores

Socially - if you're somewhat outgoing and sociable, you will find a good group of friends. During your first month, get to know the people on your floor and in class or else you will find yourself without a niche and have nothing to do on weekend nights later down the road. The sheer amount of people allows you to be exposed to a broad range of personalities. Finding a good group of friends, as anywhere, is almost essential to enjoying your experience at Penn State.

Parties and drinking are big. I personally like both a lot, but if you don't, expect to have more limited social options during the weekends OR be converted into a drinker by your friends (which happens a lot)

the girls here are pretty hot. Unfortunately, the average Penn State chick seems a bit more snobby than the average hometown chick. Expect a lot of eye candy...and if you're a half decent smooth talker, look foward to getting some nice random action.

Other things to expect:

-If you live in east halls freshman year, expect to walk 20 mins to your nearest class or wait 30 minutes to grab a bus

-Cold weather. Dreadfully cold weather.
-Rowdy floormates being loud until 3 am on weekdays, but this might only a freshman east halls sort of thing

-athletics. If you like sports, you'll find a lot of people who do (watching and playing)
-Video games - way bigger than people least among guys. Floormates never stopped playing Halo 2

-Oddballs - I don't know if it's just the concentration of people, or if Penn State, for whatever reason, actually attracts oddballs to the school. They came in numbers I never would have expected.

But most importantly, do what you desire the most. Do your own thing, make your own friends, work hard during the week, and have a damn good time, whatever it is that you're doing. Even if you're not fond of the forementioned things, it's damn possible to still have the time of your life. The sheer size of the school makes a lot of things possible. Don't come here with a negative attitude. Give people the benefit of the doubt when trying to get to know them. Make your experience here a memorable one.

1st Year Male -- Class 2008
Education Quality: A+, Innovation: C+
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Penn State, like any school, is what youQuite BrightGeography and Geosciences
Penn State, like any school, is what you make of it. The resources are there but YOU have to make an effort. As far as "just being a number" -- yes PSU is a large school and you are just a number at the university level; however, the great thing about PSU is that once you select a major then you are recognized as a person within your college/department. That is where you want to stand out and be known by name because these are the Profs and peers that are going to be your mentors and friends (and recommendation writers)Most Profs are willing to speak to you about your research interests and many will offer to have you work in their lab/ advise you on a independant project/ or thesis. Everything I took advantage of at PSU has helped me after graduation and I highly recommend it to anyone esp if you are looking to be in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.(in case it's relevant to someone: I was a Geography major/Geosciencs minor)
1st Year Female -- Class 2009
Faculty Accessibility: A+, Collaboration/Competitive: B+
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