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This will also function as advice about IUP as well as try to dispel the misconception of big school = better education.

After reading the slew of comments there are about IUP here, let's get one thing straight, people: you choose your college experience. Places like Berkeley, the U. of Maryland, Pitt, these sparkly-shiny-reputation schools, also have very, very wild party scenes. No matter if you're in a small community college or a gigantic ivy league, you choose how your time is spent. If someone spent most of it in a wasted haze, OF COURSE they're going to tell you they got nothing of educational value out of the institution!

Another thing that drives me nuts: comparing a traditional four year liberal arts school to a job developing center. A university's main goal is to educate and to research, not to get you a job upon graduation. If you are just looking for a job either start working or go to a vo-tech school. Don't waste your time and money, guys.

IUP's general advantages are that 1) it does not have heavy traffic to fight (and if you've never lived in/near a city like DC or New York, you don't know what "heavy traffic" is), 2) Majority of classes are smaller and taught by professors, not by overly stressed graduate students (large universities will many times have grads teach into 300 level courses, and they are normally controlled more by their department politics than by your needs).

The rural area is good for relaxation and bad for social and diversity reasons. However, undergrads seem to be just as "bored" down here at the University of Maryland (Main Campus, a metro ride from the heart of DC!), don't reach out to people of other creeds or colors, and are many times downright racist/sexist/homophobic just like at IUP. People are clique-oriented by nature (you might learn about the tribal mentality in Anthro if you haven't already) no matter how big a city or how small a town you live in. Once again it's what you DO, not where you are.

Since DOING is so much more important than anything, you need to look into your major's department before sending your confirmation in. Your DEPARTMENT, not the university, will make your life heaven or hell in the end. Your DEPARTMENT is the one who will guide your through internships, deciding on careers and/or graduate schools and will be your networking point from the academic bubble outward. Many Comp. Sci. and Communications majors complain about IUP not because it is overall a poor school but because their departments are awful! I remember them well!

The U. of Maryland, despite being a "flagship" school, also has horrifically disorganized, unprofessional departments. What does it matter if people can recognize the name on your diploma if you despise your department and can't work with the faculty, can't ask for their help and advice? If you want to pay thousands of dollars for a piece of paper with Big University Name written across it with no academic connections or development to back it up, then give your money to me!! I can make you a beautiful diploma with any name printed on it you want for only $2,000. You can have it by next week and be done with college.

So to drive the point home, the department should come before the university name ALWAYS. Do not be fooled by a sparkly exterior like I was in going to the U. of Maryland.

IUP is a party school. Every college is a party school. Every college also has resources and programs that many times go untapped by the average student. This is another realm where good department relations are vital.

IUP has a small physical library, but what about all the databases online? Interlibrary Loans that span the entire country? What about the research librarians there? Ever think to put them to work? My research was of the same quality it is now despite having a bigger library at my disposal. I'm going to repeat myself again, guys; it is what you DO.

I will now conclude by summarizing the mains points. 1) You choose your own experience. Don't try to blame your lack of education on drinking Thursday to Sunday morning every week. You freely made those choices, 2) Well known schools are often great, but if your department sucks your academic experience WILL SUCK, 3) You guessed it; it's all about what you do. Undergrads down at Maryland may have more opportunities overall, but do they take advantage of them? From what I have seen very few have the ambition, just like only a few had it when I was at IUP.

So for goodness sake, don't base your choice on flashy names, on how "pretty" the buildings and shrubbery are or on its proximity to a metropolis. Base it on your intellectual development, like you're supposed to. You have been warned.
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