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Pros and Cons of Penn State? (Main campus)

nth1937nth1937 Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
Just wondering what people don't like about Penn State. Are the sizes of class worrying? How about the somewhat isolated location?

Replies to: Pros and Cons of Penn State? (Main campus)

  • jkeil911jkeil911 Registered User Posts: 6,009 Senior Member
    edited November 2014
    what I don't like about PSU is that it has had significant racial problems in the past. If I had a grad student who was thinking about going there, I would tell him what I know about the treatment my previous students of color have received and that goes on every day. It has been said that Pennsylvania is two liberal outposts (Pittsburgh and Philly) surrounded by Alabama. That isn't far off, although it might be doing a disservice to Alabama. It is also one of the most expensive in-state costs of attendance at a state flagship, and this makes it possible for PSU to exclude poorer Pennsylvanians. I would say this of any large school: Given its size and considering your major, I would check the quality of the advising and to see how easy it is to get the courses you need WHEN YOU NEED TO HAVE THEM so that you can graduate in 4 years.

    What I love about PSU is that it is surrounded by some beautiful countryside and has some of the best flyfishing in the East. There is lots of room for hiking, biking, climbing, skiing, and other outdoors activities I love. It is a beautiful wooded campus with lovely limestone architecture. It has tremendous academic strengths in STEM, business, and some social sciences. There is a lot going on socially at PSU; a good deal of it involves football and beer, but you can avoid those two and still enjoy yourself (see above). If you can get into the Honors college, do so.
  • TV4casterTV4caster Registered User Posts: 1,525 Senior Member
    There are some big classes for some of the intro type courses but you will get that in most schools. My kid goes to a campus with about 1/3 the total student body of PSU and routinely has 200 in a class.

    The poster above is right about the atmosphere. There is a big party component but there are also several hundred organizations on campus that don't involve drinking.

    Occasionally we would travel to Pittsburgh or Philly (or Harrisburg) for a larger selection of fun- like the horse racing track :) or a professional sporting event.

    The climate can be a plus or a minus depending on your preference. It can get pretty cold and there are usually a few good storms per year -although not during my fours years <boo>.

    Because of the size of the campus the length of the walk from some dorms to some classes is a bit long. I stayed all 4 years in the dorms at East Halls (which I consider a plus that upperclassmen can get on campus housing). From there to the west side of campus is a hike (maybe a mile???)
  • greenbuttongreenbutton Registered User Posts: 2,605 Senior Member
    edited November 2014
    Pros: The opportunity to take amazing classes across many disciplines is second to none. The opportunity to hear world class speakers (presidents, business leaders, philanthropists, diplomats, innovators) is also impressive. The opportunity to be around a large and fairly diverse student body, where not everyone thinks like the people you've always known. A beautiful, and relatively safe campus and a vibrant graduate school. Concerts from JayZ and Kanye to Amy Grant and Keith Urban. Job fairs and career advising is available. You will meet many leaders in their fields and many more who will be leaders.

    Cons : Competition for prime opportunities is fierce and relentless. Advising and mentoring is limited and classes are challenging. Forget the party school reputation -- academics are no walk in the park and there is no one to hold your hand or care too much if you are struggling. There are lots of resources and none of them do you a bit of good if you are not a self-motivated and organized student. There is a lot of partying and you can make some really bad choices here.

    As a lifelong PA resident, I would not characterize my state as a hotbed of racist behaviors. State College is a very liberal town surrounded by a pretty conservative area, as rural America tends to be.
  • jlhpsujlhpsu Forum Champion Penn State Posts: 1,813 Forum Champion
    Well, it's been 20 years since I graduated, but we visit very often.

    The Pro's: The alumni network is amazing. There are 600,000 living alumni and that creates a network of people with which you have an instant connection. It's helped in job opportunities as well as other things. PSU has the largest job fair east of the Mississippi and companies wait years in order to be admitted to the fair. The academics are wonderful while also having a vibrant social scene. When I was there, there was plenty to do if you didn't drink. I can't speak to how it is now as I'm not there as a student. I think that the campus size can be both a pro and a con. For me, it was a Pro. I was able to find my niche and people like me. It was easy to fit in because there are so many people...so it was easy for me to find people who liked the things I liked and then I hung around with them. I didn't feel like I was stuck with the people around me like I did in high school. I could go out and find "my" people. On the other hand, I did have a few classes early on that had 500+ students in the lecture. But once I was in my major, my classes were small and my professors very accessible. I loved going to a big school with a great football team and the community that created. The college town in wonderful and the locals at that time mixed really well with the students. I also never witnessed any racism, but I'm lilly white, so what do I know. I have children who are not Asian, however, and I wouldn't hesitate to send them to PSU.

    The Cons: This is harder for me because I truly love Penn State. But if I had to say anything, I'd say that the large campus made for some long winter walks to class. The transportation system was not as refined as it is now, but even so, if you walk, your classes can be far. The weather is central PA weather. I was there during the Blizzard of 1993 and we were snowed in for a week. Classes were cancelled then, but usually they are not. Snow is expected. The only other thing I can say that is a con now, is the immediate jump some people make when they hear Penn State to the Sandusky scandal. I was disappointed in PSU's response to that, and I was also disappointed in some alumni response as well. And I hate that in some circles PSU=scandal.
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