Pennsylvania State University
Pennsylvania State University - Comments and Student Experiences|
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.
Having stated that I have only positive things to say about Penn State. I believe that I received an excellent education, and as a Schreyer Honors College scholar, I had many learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. I know that PSU has a party school rep, although I think that the same reputation could be hung on almost any school, with the exception of some small Christian colleges and BYU! If you want to party, then come to Penn State. However, if you want to work hard and learn in a world class educational environment, then come to Penn State! I had to maintain a higher GPA at PSU to remain in the SHC than any of my friends in their honors programs at other universities. I also had a graduation thesis requirement to satisfy. All those reviewers who comment on the poor work ethic of Penn State students might be reflecting on their own lack of effort, and perhaps that is why they were unsuccessful. Also, it amazes me that some students complain about the lack of diversity. What do they expect to find in a small college town in the middle of Pennsylvania? Seriously, if you want tons of diversity then choose a inner city college or university. Penn State attracts students from all over the world, but the majority of students come from the mid-Atlantic area, so the student body is only slightly diverse. However, there are clubs and organizations for many different groups of students. As with any school you will need to get involved, join organizations with like-minded people and you will find your peer group.
I had some really good professors and some not so good ones, but, again, I think this would be the same at any university. Penn State is a big school environment so choose to go elsewhere if you are not a self-starter, and still need some high school type hand-holding. Freshman year lecture classes seat hundreds of students, but if you sit in the front row then who cares how many others are in the same room seated behind you? I made some good friends, did some partying, went to some exciting sporting events (not just football), graduated in four years, landed a good job in my career field, and have some wonderful college memories. That's what it's all about! I would definitely choose Penn State all over again.
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.