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Pennsylvania State University

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Penn State, like any school, is what you

Feb 26 2010Geography 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+

learn how to work the system or else

Dec 18 2007Mechanical Engineering
learn how to work the system or else you will suffer. i'm an undergrad engineering and they will WEED you out. average for all math/science related lecture courses are in the 40%-50% range and will only curve to a 70%. about half of the prospective ME majors don't make the GPA cutoff because the university is just too large. can't sufficiently teach +40,000 students. thus control all majors. if decide to quit engineering sophomore year you can not 'transfer' into the business college because it is also controlled. you are basically stuck going into liberal arts or the science college.

hardly any exams are partial credit- pretty much all multiple choice exams graded by a computer (HUGE NEGATIVE = no partial credit = 40% - 50% range for a grade). also, the teacher will usually NOT make up the exam- the head of the department will- which means your teacher may teach you material that is irrelevant because he/she does not know what type of questions are going to be on the exam either! most teachers do not speak english in the math/science/engineering departments. and if they do speak english, it is usually a graduate student who does not know HOW to teach.

students. slim pickings of the bright ones. not very competitive/smart unless in the honors college and a few engineering kids. not many kids know how to write here and they will NOT TEACH YOU. i turned in a high school paper for my freshman composition/english class and received an A (i received a B- in it in high school....).

social life is amazing if you come from a small town and drank in high school a ton. i am in a top notch sorority here and parties/bars are GREAT. but if you are coming from urban/metropolitan area the nightlife will get old because the bars are not trendy/hip and there is only one club that not many kids go to.overall, if you have the $ go to another top notch small college where you will learn material NOT learn how to beat the weed-out system.

3rd Year Female -- Class 2009
University Resource Use: A, Faculty Accessibility: D

I've just finished up the best school year

May 09 2005Chemical 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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