Location
University Park, PA
Undergrads
37,917
Tuition (in-state)
$28,746 ($16,444)
Admission Difficulty
Average
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Reviews 4666 total reviews with an average rating of 3.7

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4 College Student

Majors: Very satisfied with my expectations.

3 College Student

Greek Life: You don't need to be Greek to have a great experience.

5 College Student

Local Atmosphere: There is so much to do here, I know I am going to love it!

3 College Junior

Campus Housing: I lived in Pollock my freshman year, then North, and moved off campus for the rest. As a person who appreciates a calm living environment, I was glad that I lived in Pollock rather than East as a freshman.

If you are into the party scene, you should try to live in East as a freshman because East is mostly freshmen looking to make new friends and get smashed. The rooms in East are quite tiny though. Pollock is a little more spacious, plus the Pollock commons was renovated 2 years ago, so it's nice and clean. People come from all over campus to eat at Pollock now, because it has a much more modern atmosphere (although the layout for the dining hall is quite broken up and weird).

North Halls have by far the most luxurious rooms, but the commons doesn't have very much good food, and North is where the "weirdos" are - art students, musicians, graphic design, architecture, etc. I've heard that West is desirable, although I never lived there, so I can't give any tips.

But living on campus is pricey for what you get. You can get a cleaner, more spacious place for the same price or less by moving off campus, but it does require more work scouting out the good places (get organized early... Apartments often fill up around October)!! I would say moving off campus as soon as possible is in your best interest.

6 people found this useful Report
2 College Junior

Drug Safety: As a person who never drank until I was 21, I didn't have much of a social life (but this was also due largely to the fact that my major is extremely time-consuming). It is easiest to make friends on your floor as a freshman by going out to frats with your roommates. There are other ways of making friends too, like joining clubs or teams, but a lot of the socialization at Penn State revolves around drinking. I blame this partially on the weather, because going out at night in the middle of winter sucks unless you have donned the beer coat and whiskey gloves, and partially on location, because State College isn't near any major cities or attractions for extracurricular fun. But drugs are not seen often, aside from weed, which still doesn't have nearly the popularity of Natty.

1 person found this useful Report
3 College Junior

Computers: This depends largely on your major. If you're in graphic design or architecture, you will have a hell of a time dealing with printing technology (plotters are always the worst). If you're in a major that requires the use of plotters regularly, you will spend big bucks on printing, and it sucks. Most majors will probably find the printing cost pretty reasonable as the school provides you with a certain number of free prints per semester. Computer labs are scattered all over campus, and it's likely that the building your major is based in will have their own computer lab. East, West, and Pollock also have their own computer labs. Still, having your own computer is a plus for around mid-terms and finals.

4 College Junior

Athletics: Obviously football is a huge part of Penn State culture, and the tailgating is supposedly some of the best in the country, but you don't have to be a football player to have access to some pretty good athletic facilities. The Hepper Fitness center is shiny and new, full of machines mostly. The IM building is getting a new facade, and hopefully the inside will get a little facelift as well. It features a running track that overlooks indoor volleyball/basketball courts and racquetball courts. The white building is frequented by many students, because it offers machines, gyms and a pool, although it looks a little outdated. (The Natatorium also offers pools.) We recently got a new ice hockey building, the Pegula Ice Arena, so we will see what that does for the student body over the course of the next few years.

The cost of gym membership is $100 for the whole year (I believe), which isn't too bad.

1 person found this useful Report
1 College Junior

Weather: The weather at Penn State is easily the worst thing about the place, aside from the outrageous tuition. You might not see the sun for a few weeks, and it is so damp and cold for most of the winter (being in a valley). Expect to become EXTREMELY pale in Happy Valley, or become friends with the tanning salons downtown.

3 College Junior

Off-Campus Housing: You have to know the good places to live. Check out Beaver Plaza, a lesser known apartment building near the Palmerton. It has a great location, only one block away from campus, right near a white loop stop, and the rent is very reasonable compared to most apartments on Beaver Ave. The apartments in Beaver Plaza are generally 2 people to a room, but if you don't mind sharing a room, you can have an apartment with a very reasonable rent, and a great location.

P.S. - A lot of the apartments in Beaver Plaza have been renovated recently, which is nice, although those apartments may cost more now.

3 College Junior

Campus Strictness: The biggest event that has warranted strictness in the past few years is State Patty's Day. This is a day where is has become pretty easy to get busted for underage drinking/noise violations/vandalism, etc. Supposedly, the damages were becoming so extreme in the years leading up to last year that the town decided to crack down hard. All the bars were shut down on State Patty's, and there were lots of police officers out and about giving underages. Be smart about drinking always, but be ESPECIALLY smart around this time of year.

4 College Junior

Health & Safety: University Health is generally great at Penn State, the website you log into to make an appointment is very simple to use, and once you arrive at the UHS building, the process of logging in is also streamlined. I've found that the doctors are very willing to stay and answer any questions you have, and although they will never know you as well as your doctor from home, they generally don't treat you like just another file.

1 person found this useful Report
3 College Junior

Transportation: This is one that really depends on your lifestyle/major. If you are taking classes that require standard materials (paper, pens, pencils, books, etc.) this can all be bought in stores either on campus or on College Ave, which is all within walking distance. For people who need to get pretty far off campus and return with really big supplies (like 4'x8' sheets of plywood or 10' pipes of conduit) transportation is a huge pain. If you have to transport big items, your best bets are to either find a friend with a truck, or, rent a taxi van. But most students will find the bus systems adequate for off-campus needs.

4 College Junior

Nightlife: If you know the right places, you can get have a great time, but it all depends on the sort of experience you're looking for. If you want to go to a bar that's pretty chill, check out Local Whiskey (above the Phyrst). The drinks are a little pricy, but the atmosphere is decidedly more calm than many other bars. The bar up in Allen St grill is one that not many students visit, but it is very calm, and you can have a conversation really easily. Bar Bleu is one of my favorites, because it's usually a tad less crowded than other bars, and there's often live bands downstairs. The Phyrst is probably one of the sloppiest bars in town, and if you're looking for a place to get rowdy, that's where you should go. It's one of the only bars that accepts people the moment they turn 21, unlike most other bars in town. The Gaff is another more rowdy venue, but it's less vomit-y than the Phyrst.

1 person found this useful Report
3 College Junior

Off-Campus Dining: As an architecture student who spends lots of late nights working in studio, I most appreciate the delivery options on orderup.com (formerly lionmenus.com). You can get all different kinds of food, (several places deliver until 2am!) delivered to your apartment, dorm or campus building. They have all the local restaurants organized nicely, and you can browse everything from pizza to traditional sichuan dishes. Super convenient, although you do pay extra for delivery. But when you're in a time crunch... Totally worth it!

5 College Freshman

Computers: Sometimes the wi-fi will be messed up, but RESCOM will take care of any issues you may have. Computer labs do get crowded, but there are so many, there's nothing to worry about, especially if you need to print something.

2 people found this useful Report
4 College Freshman

Off-Campus Dining: The food in town is great, but for the most part, expensive.

1 person found this useful Report
5 College Freshman

Academics: Great academics. Teachers are well educated.

1 person found this useful Report
5 College Freshman

Nightlife: Never a dull moment in State College. There's always something to do.

2 people found this useful Report
5 College Freshman

Greek Life: Greek life is the best. If you're not in greek life, these pretty much nothing to do on weekends. There are apartment parties, but they're nothing like frat parties. If you're a guy who attends Penn State and you're not in a frat, don't even try to get into frat parties, because you won't. All frat guys are required to wear special bracelets that let them into other frat houses. Though, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll get into a different frat. For the most part, you have to know a person in the frat to be let in. Girls have it easy. They can get in, but (this may sound shallow), but if you're not in a sorority, you have to be good looking to be let into a frat. As far as sororities go, there is no off campus housing, but dorm floors dedicated to a designated sorority. Then on the ground floor there are suites for each sorority meant for recruitment and chapter rooms. Greek life is extremely competitive here, but you'll be happy no matter what sorority or fraternity you end up in.

5 people found this useful Report
5 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: Everyone is very friendly with one another. Rated best college town our of all universities for a reason. There's so much to do in town, so many restaurants to eat at.

1 person found this useful Report
3 College Junior

Computers: The library computer labs fill up quickly at times and it is hard to find a place to print papers. It is very difficult to connect to the wireless network the first time.

1 person found this useful Report
3 College Junior

Weather: The cold keeps most people inside, but the night life still happens. The warm weather creates more of a social experience on campus.

1 person found this useful Report
2 College Junior

Scholarships: There are very few options for graduate students in our field to receive financial aid.

1 person found this useful Report
4 College Junior

Nightlife: The variety of cars available for people over 21 are great. However, a cover is usually charged on mostly every night which puts a damper on the amount of bar hopping that happens.

1 person found this useful Report
3 College Junior

Athletics: Athletics is a big deal to most undergraduates. Students become very involved for football season and hockey season this year.

1 person found this useful Report
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Pattee Library and Mall
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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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