Location
University Park, PA
Undergrads
37,917
Tuition (in-state)
$28,746 ($16,444)
Admission Difficulty
Average
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Reviews 4696 total reviews with an average rating of 3.7

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3 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: The local atmosphere of Penn State has a combination of the small town feel and a great college campus. Penn State is located literally in the middle of no where in Pennsylvania, but in the city of State College there is lots to offer. the Downtown at Penn State is conveniently located within walking distance of the campus. has a bunch of shops and places to eat. The Greek life at Penn State is very active, although there are plenty of clubs/organizations you can join to get involved. The campus at Penn State is huge, but very organized. It takes about 15-20 mins to walk from one corner of campus to the other. you definitely get your daily exercise, but not to fear there are plenty of buses that run every 15 mins. Penn State in my opinion is one of the safest campuses around. you can feel safe walking alone at night if you have to study at the library.

4 College Junior

Facilities: Campus Life – Every student needs to get involved and maintain a high sense of school pride. There are many things to do, and see all around the campus.

4 College Junior

Facilities: The Penn State Library offers a plethora of resources that a student can use to succeed. They have computer resources, books, and databases that students can access at all hours.

4 College Junior

Academics: Well-Rounded Professors – Penn State University offers a diversity of professors, all of which are willing to help a student succeed. Being a student at Penn State has shown me that no matter how hard life becomes, there will always be a teacher in the world to support me. Professors at Penn State are knowledgeable, respectful, and supportive.

3 College Sophomore

Scholarships: I received the financial aid I needed however if you have to speak with the financial aid office you are in for a nightmare. Due to the fact that Penn State has over 40,000 students phone lines are overwhelmingly busy. My advice for anyone pursuing financial aid is to get your forms in as early as possible and if necessary call the officer first thing in the morning to speak to someone.

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5 College Sophomore

Overall Experience: Happy Valley – Penn State truly is the happiest of valleys. When choosing colleges I was never certain of a specific school and just wound up choosing Penn State. Three years later I can say it was the best decision of my life thus far. I have made the best friends while obtaining a highly valued education. The football games, parties, classes, I love it all.

4 College Sophomore

Greek Life: At Penn State there are numerous sororities and fraternities available which offer a wide variety to students. Students who wish to become part of the Greek life have a wide selection of options so everyone can find their best fit. As a student who is a non-Greek I have always felt welcomed by the Greeks and so do my other friends. Everyone hangs out together regardless of the Greek system. As for housing the fraternity houses are very nice and all along one street for the most part which makes them easily accessed. The sororities live on a floor of a dorm building which house very nice rooms. I think the Greek life at Penn State is great and one of the best around.

3 College Junior

Transportation: not bad but sometimes the cab drivers are very unprofessional and rude.

3 College Junior

Drug Safety: Alchol is a major issue at every college no matter where you go. Espeacially at parties.

3 College Sophomore

Diversity: A Lot of the Same – Coming from a primarily white suburban high school, Penn State seems diverse; however, a lot of people complain that there is a lot of the same types of people. While there are a lot of people involved in greek life, there are also so many students that there is every type of person.

5 College Sophomore

Off-Campus Dining: So Many Options – Since State College revolves around Penn State, there are tons of off-campus dining options. A website called LionMenus even helps facilitate the search for food downtown and delivery services. There's a Panera, Chili's, McDonald's, etc. But, there are also some really great diverse places as well including Cozy Thai, Golden Wok, and India Pavilion. Most places are open late to accomodate the partying crowd. Canyon Pizza has dollar slices late at night and is a college essential.

4 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: Penn State is located in the perfect college town. All the shops and restaurants are geared toward college students, and the majority of the houses downtown are fraternitites or student houses. This makes freshman year really exciting, and the transition is super easy to college life. However, after the first year, you start to crave some more cultural activities outside the realm of "Penn State Culture," which includes football games, parties, tailgates, etc. If you look hard enough, you can definitely find some new, interesting activites, there are always concerts and plays, and the State Teathre downtown offers really interesting independent films and lesser known music artists.

4 College Junior

Guys & Girls: Very New Age School – This college is very new age when it comes to guys and girls. Most students are very good looking/healthy (mentally and physically). The dress is not conservative at all; this is definitely a college town. The social life is just as modern. Tons of new age activities but still a good bit of traditional fun. The best part of this college is that all the students are a "family." You don't see any cliques like you do in high school. All students are equal, they are all Penn Staters.

3 College Junior

Campus Housing: Dorms Are Average but Getting Better – From my experience, the dorms are pretty much like most other big ten colleges; however, much work is being done to modernize these facilities. Freshman housing is pretty average but the opportunities for sophomores-seniors get better. The internet speeds and cable options are very fair though. The social atmosphere is great but I think more of that has to do with the college in general rather than the housing. Regardless, the coed option are cool and every dorm is very close the dining commons/convenience stores. In the end though, the costs are pretty high and a little more can be done (and is being done) to amend this issue.

4 College Junior

Computers: Very Good Technology Services – The university does a great job at providing technology to its students. There are a ton of computer labs on campus; every student should have access to one. Their computer lab staff also does a great job at keeping the labs usable. Printing is very fair. Every semester students are given 110 pages, which is usually sufficient. Network speed is great and rarely is down; wireless is available in most major areas of campus.

3 College Senior

Off-Campus Housing: Penn State tries there best to meet everyones need. Housing is done by status level so freshmen stay together and so on but you can always request speciallty living. This is something where you can live in the same dorm with people of relative or the same minor. For the most part penn state have very convenient housing.

5 College Senior

Health & Safety: Personal Safety – At Penn State everyone is very friendly even the staff. I always feel very safe at all time even when it is 3 o clock in the morning. If you feel uncomfortable walking somewhere by yourself they have a hot line you can call and they will send you an escort. Penn State makes sure that you never feel unsafe at all and try and make it your second home.

3 College Freshman

Athletics: Kinda Overrated, but Definitely a Factor – I'll admit that when you go to a game, the school spirit is crazy.
I went to the first game of the season, and sat freezing my behind off, but most people didn't care that it felt like 20 degrees outside- they were there cheering their team on.
But in truth, penn state isn't as big a football school as it seems. For every one person that obsesses over football season, there is at least one person that doesn't care in the least.
But this is where the size of the school comes into play. Even if half the school truly doesn't care about the athletics, we've still got 21k+ that do.
Those are the people that try to show up to every game rain or shine, making sure that Penn State's side of the stands stays filled to max capacity

3 College Freshman

Campus Dining: It Gets Old – I honestly didn't realize how much I hated PSU's food until my second semester.
First semester, you're too enthralled with the new experience to realize that you're eating the same thing pretty much every day.
West has the best food on campus, and Redifer provides Chinese and Mexican food, as well as soups, salads, pizza, sandwiches, and "American" food like cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, fries, etc. (Their 4berry smoothies are to die for!)
But again, it gets old after a while.
In my first semester, a friend and I bought a rice cooker for like 20 bucks from walmart, and later in the year, I bought a sandwich maker. (warning: this is contraband! But honestly, its hard to burn your room down with either of these things- you'd have to be an extreme mix of unfortunate and inattentive to do any real damage).
Anyway, we'd spend lioncash downtown at McLanahans, buy rice, beans, sazon, and use our meal points to go to the buffet, ask for a takeout box, and bring back a couple pieces of grilled chicken, and make our own meals.
I'd also buy noodles and alfredo sauce from mcLanahans and make shrimp alfredo in the microwave.
The sandwich maker was great for grilled cheese, all of the ingredients could be bought at convenience stores on campus, and it made for a great on the run meal.
I've also used it to "fry" plantains.
There are lots of ways to cook in your room using meal points and lionCash- its all about being creative.
As for restaurants, there is some diversity. There's Indian Pavilion, and I believe a thai food place over near the IST building. There are also like a million chinese food places downtown as well as some restaurants like Chilli's. Some of which take lionCash.
Big Bowl is right across the street from south commons, and it's got great chinese (but they only take cash),and make sure to check out the Waffle Shop- their chocolate chip waffles and pancakes are the best!

2 College Junior

Weather: It is always overcast and cold. It is nice the beginning of the Fall semester and nice at the end of the Spring semester. When it snows, classes are never cancelled due to the excellent plowing and hot-water piping under all the sidewalks.

2 College Junior

Campus Housing: Housing Conflict – The freshman dorms are really small and old, and sometimes there isn't enough. They are also far away from everything Upperclassmen dorms are nicer but not guaranteeing. Most people move off campus their sophomore or junior year.

4 College Junior

Health & Safety: Very Safe – I have never felt unsafe anywhere on Penn State's campus at anytime of the day. Although it is very big, it is very well light. There are campus police around, and you must have your ID to get into residence halls.

College Freshman

Scholarships: No Help – I have not received any help in financial aid, cant really give my opinion.

5 College Freshman

Campus Strictness: Penn state was definitely helpful in the moving away from home transition. They are there if you need them but also give you all the freedom you want.

5 College Freshman

Off-Campus Dining: LOTS OF OPTIONS! Downtown life at penn state main campus is one of the highlights, there are so many options and variety to choose from that no one can go unhappy.

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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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