Location
University Park, PA
Undergrads
37,917
Tuition (in-state)
$28,746 ($16,444)
Admission Difficulty
Average
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Reviews 4655 total reviews with an average rating of 3.7

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5 College Senior

Local Atmosphere: Its the Best! Penn State main is full of things to do! There is never a dull moment

3 College Senior

Campus Strictness: Strict on Gamedays – The police force is pretty strict when it comes to underage drinking, especially on football Saturdays. Anyone holding a red cup or a beer can WILL get carded and get a citation if they are underage. Other than that, I think the campus police and the RA's are very helpful and always supportive of the students.

4 College Sophomore

Campus Dining: So Much Variety! Although I'm biased because I worked there, I have to say that campus dining, especially Pollock, is awesome! It's really great that Penn State has so many (5!!!) dining halls on campus to accommodate so many students. Not only is there quantity, but quality of course.

Pollock dining commons is pretty big and has an Asian station, Pizza/Pasta station, paninis, two salad and fruit bars, a bar to get made-to-order subs, and an entree station. It's amazing because there are so many healthy choices like constant fresh fruit and veggies.
South is more of a pick what you want kind of place. There is an all-you-can-eat buffet station, but most of the commons area is smaller takeout stations of all kinds of food, like Asian, Mexican, American, etc. I LOVE paninis from South. They really do them right.
West, hands down, has the best cookies on campus. Everyone who goes to PSU knows that. The cookies are JUST baked to gooey goodness and left on a warming tray so they're perfect. Also, west has great seating and amazing food as well. It has a Tex-Mex bar, two entree stations, a salad bar, and a pizza/pasta area. There's not much fruit, but the entrees are great.
I've never been to North but I hear it's pretty good too. Not many people live in North so it's a very chill environment, and generally keeps up with the menus of other commons.
East dining is half great, half meh. The Big O has the BEST pizza. I know some residents of State College who actually order pizza from there to pick up. The Big O has mostly fried or quickly made things, but they're all so good. The dining hall upstairs is less popular, but it has entree stations and a salad bar and whatnot.

Overall, good dining, but I guarantee you'll be tired of it by the end of the semester. The menus are kind of the same every week, but it's good dining nonetheless and as long as you don't eat the same thing every day you'll be okay!

5 College Sophomore

Overall Experience: Penn State is so welcoming and amazing, i transferred to the main campus freshman year spring semester and i have no problem making friends. Everyone is outgoing and willing to meet people. You can talk to anyone, ask anyone anything and not feel weird. The tricky part is balancing social life and your academics. There is so much to do and so much opportunity once you maintain balance you can go and do anything. You need to apply yourself at Penn State to do well, but word hard play hard. Its amazing here.

5 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: This school is truly one of a kind. I have never heard anyone say a bad thing about it or that they did not enjoy their experience. It is a big school but it feels like a small one. Students are friendly and treat each other like true nittany lions, at this school you really feel like you are apart of something. Downtown their are restaurants, clubs, and further frat life. There is so much to get involved in and work with its amazing.

4 College Sophomore

Majors: DUS All the Way – My advisor was very helpful in the college major search. I met with advisors from several colleges, and they provided me with quality insight. I decided I was on the right path as a Management major in Smeal.

3 College Sophomore

Computers: Computer Labs Galore – PSU makes sure each student has easy access to computer labs. In fact, I had a private computer lab that only students from the four surrounding buildings had access to use.

3 College Sophomore

Off-Campus Housing: Off campus housing can be pricey. You also need to keep in mind location- how close, or how far you want to be.

4 College Sophomore

Nightlife: Frat Land – Sophomores and freshmen attend the frat parties on campus. Upperclassmen hit the bars and appartment parties. You can't go wrong.

4 College Sophomore

Transportation: The Loops Rock – Living on campus is made very easy with the blue and white loops. They can take you close to pretty much any popular location on campus. In addition, there are buses to take you to other local communities and more importantly, to Wal-Mart. The fare is inexpensive, and if you live off-campus near a bus route, it's common for a bus pass to be included with rent.

3 College Sophomore

Drug Safety: Drinking Causes More Problems – Drugs are kept in check very well at Penn State. I occasionally see people smoking marijuana, but never doing heroin, coke, etc. Alcohol is a bigger problem. Tons of people get wasted every weekend, but the school has been cracking down harder and harder on that to keep it from becoming any worse.

3 College Senior

Guys & Girls: For the students who are majoring in Horticulture, they usually wear jeans, Timberlands, a hat and a camouflage jacket. Girls and guys who are involved with sororities/fraternities wear shirts with greek letters. People who I would consider as hipsters who wear the latest styles, tend to stick out. Because Penn State is a big campus, most people do not wear heels. I noticed that boots were popular this year. Most people wear regular clothes like jeans/yoga pants/sweatpants with a Tshirt/pretty top.

3 College Senior

Parking: Depends on the Day – The campus has the Red Link, Green Link, White Loop and Blue Loop to get students from one place of campus to another. Most students that live off campus buy a parking permit and these students have specific parking lots reserved. For students like me who want to reduce carbon footprint, I use public transportation because my apartment provides me a bus pass. The bus does tend to get busy at certain times like at 9am so if I have a 9am class, I would usually take the bus that gets me 30-45 minutes early.
During weekdays, finding a parking spot downtown is no problem. It's usually on Fridays and Saturdays that it gets busy because of students from other campuses or other schools come to visit. As far as ticketing and fines go, I remember my friend getting a $25 ticket for parking on the side street downtown overnight.

3 College Sophomore

Diversity: Penn State has diverse ethnicities, political views and sexual orientations. It's not difficult to find a niche once you've been exposed to everything - but from an outsider's perspective, it may seem as though the campus is a generally homogeneous one. This can be true to those who don't look for the diversity within PSU.

4 College Sophomore

Majors: I am looking to enter into a smeal business major possibly finance but you have to be accepted into the majors at the end of your second year. Most business majors require a minimum gpa of 3.2 except for finance (there may be others) which requires a 3.5. There are also quite a few entrance to major courses but really as long as you work hard and meet the requirements you are guaranteed a seat.

4 College Sophomore

Transportation: Fairly Convenient. Price Not Bad. The on campus buses are free but at times it can be hard to get a seat because they are used by so many people. Off campus buses cost $1.50 each way i believe but you can buy passes if you plan to use them a lot. They also recently upgraded the buses and they are very nice now.

4 College Senior

Overall Experience: Nothing Like Happy Valley! Penn State University is the greatest school ever! I love it here. WE have great academic programs, faculty, sports, clubs, campus. But most of all, WE ARE PENN STATE!!

2 College Senior

Campus Strictness: Beware of the Police – The police are quick to pull you over so drive carefully!

4 College Senior

Athletics: Varsity sports at Penn State are major! The school spirit is not like any other school and the games are fun to attend.

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3 College Senior

Campus Dining: Good Selection of Food, but a Little Pricey – The nice thing about Penn State's dining options is that there are a lot of different places to eat - the HUB, Waring Commons, Warnock, Findlay, Pollock, Redifer, lots of different convenience stores, places like the Big Onion (pizza, subs). Lots of variety. However, it is nice to make your own food or get off-campus food once in a while, even if you do have your own meal plan. The main gripe I have, though, is that the meal plans are pretty pricey (base price about $1,300 per semester, plus another $500 or so for the dining dollars). I guess they have to pay all their employees, buy all the food, and so on, but still, it would be nice if it were cheaper.

3 College Senior

Off-Campus Housing: Off-campus living is definitely cheaper than on-campus living. You can still get a meal plan for the same price off-campus as on-campus (I was really surprised to find this out). There is a huge downfall with off-campus living, however - you have to apply by October or November of the previous year to get a spot for one of the more desirable locations to live (Cedarbrook, Beaver Terrace, etc.) for the next year. However, I applied just last month for a place for this upcoming year, and was able to find a nice house only about a 15-minute walk from campus, with rent cheaper than most of the more "desirable" downtown State College locations. Having said that, though, the off-campus housing is somewhat limited, and some places are pretty far from campus (making it rough during our cold winters).

3 College Senior

Greek Life: Perspective of a Non-Greek Student – Let's see - this might be a bit hard for me, since I am not a Greek guy, and don't really have any Greek friends (maybe a few, but that's it). Overall, they are a huge contributor to THON (Penn State's Dance Marathon, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world). So, that is really good. The fraternities and sororities always seem to raise the most $$ out of all the different campus organizations FTK (For the Kids) - another big plus. Another plus is that they have recently gotten involved in clean-up activities the day after State Patty's Day - a drinking "holiday" established in 2007. OK, now that I have the pros of Greek life done, some cons. I have heard that the parties are no more fun than an exciting night at a bar - whether people agree or disagree with this sentiment, I do think Greek parties are overrated myself. I went to one as a freshman, and it was a bunch of dudes playing beer pong. Not very exciting. What else? You can oftentimes tell who is involved in a fraternity/sorority because many of them dress/talk/act the same. Also, housing for fraternities/sororities is overpriced, IMHO. OVERALL: No need to get involved in Greek life - maybe go to a Greek party for s*** and giggles, just to say you went to one. Or a daylong. But that's it. House and apartment parties are the s***, but not frat/sorority parties. 

3 College Senior

Computers: There are plenty of computer labs at Penn State. Besides the labs at all the main residential areas (Waring - West, Warnock - North, Findlay - East, and Pollock - South), and the HUB, there are labs in the Pattee and Paterno Libraries, and many, many other buildings on campus. It can be hard to find a computer to use around midterms and finals, but otherwise, pretty easy. Overall, I would say if you're trying to save money, you do not need to spend any on your own laptop. But if Mom and Dad are paying for your laptop, why not?

4 Recent Alumnus

Computers: Fast and Available for the Most Part – Computer are available for the most part. The labs get busy during class hours (10-3ish) but other than that you shouldn't have a problem. All computer are fast with the latest technology.

4 Recent Alumnus

Local Atmosphere: 40,000 Students Plopped Into One Town- Endless Possibilities – Penn State University has SO much to offer. There is someting for EVERYONE there whether you are athletic, a bookworm, artsy, you can find it all ! The only down side is that you are basically stuck there since there is nothing going on in a 2 hour radius of the school. But beleive me, you wont want to leave !!!!!!

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Pattee Library and Mall
Pattee Library and Mall

Overall ExperienceWhat's This?

James Bunting
Hometown
Whitehall, PA
Major
Journalism
View all previous student authors

Despite common reservations about the location and climate, most Penn State students are fiercely loyal to their alma mater. Penn State boasts one of the largest alumni populations in the United States; graduates are proud of their degrees, and employers recognize the University’s name immediately. Although the campus is located in a very rural area, school is technologically up-to-date and on the cutting-edge of current research.

Aside from academics, PSU is also known for its social scene, especially in relation to sports and parties. Nittany Lion football—home of the 2008 Big Ten Champions—is a national draw and a point of pride for both the University and the town of State College. For anyone interested in playing or watching varsity sports, PSU is a top choice. Penn State has also been ranked highly by many polls and “party school” surveys as one of the top party schools in the nation. While it certainly isn’t the wildest town, these rankings are definitely accurate. The small-town setting and large-school atmosphere makes for little else in the way of entertainment, so it can be hard to avoid encountering the party scene during your time as a student. Still, the mix of work and leisure seems to work well for most of the student body, and academic standards at Penn State remain relatively high. It’s easy to spend four years at Penn State as an ever-serious student, focused completely on whatever you choose to study. With so many opportunities to relax nearby, balance and moderation are some of the best skills to learn from your four years in college.

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