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Pennsylvania State University

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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 think...at 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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I am still a first year student, soQuite BrightCommunications
I am still a first year student, so my opinions may change by the time I graduate...
Penn State is definately a great value for any In-State student, given the great reputation that it has around the country, its alumni network, quality of education, and tuition (although it is the highest in state tuition of any state school). As an out of state student, the tuition is a bit high, although for a school ranked in the 50s by most rankings, it is worth it.

Pros that I have found: in general, people know PSU and are impressed based on what they know about the school, which doesn't hurt when job hunting in the future. There are a lot of majors to choose from, and many of them are known to be quite good, such as engineering and meteorology. Admissions is actually not too competitive ( I got in with an unweighted 3.17 gpa, 1980 SATs, 31 ACTS, not too many APs or extracurriculars. They say that for out of state, GPA is 2/3 of the decision...) Social life wise, if you are into huge parties with lots of alcohol, State is the place for you. If you tend to like smaller groups of people, or do not like to drink, you might find the herds of drunken kids that infest the streets of campus and town thursday through saturday annoyying.

If you are looking for a big school, PSU is definately one of the larger ones, which can be good or bad.

Cons: Very few people get scholarships, at least from what I know. I haven't really met anyone from the many people I've talked to who have gotten any aid from the school directly.

Being at a school with over 40,000 other undergrads is definately intimidating, as you can walk around for hours and not see anyone you know. However, if you are friendly and sociable of course you will make friends and it will seem like a smaller place after the first few weeks.

Diversity wise, Penn State is terrible. I am Asian, so I do notice the way different ethnic groups interract with each other, and I was disappointed to find out that white kids tend to hang out with whites, blacks with blacks, asians with asians, and so on. Of course, there are exceptions.

1st Year Female -- Class 2010
Campus Aesthetics: A, Collaboration/Competitive: C
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