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Atmosphere?

tajamarieetajamariee 86 replies13 threads Junior Member
edited February 2009 in University of Colorado
Anyone go to CU Boulder/live around there/know a lot about the University that can give me their two cents? It's between here and Penn State UP, and I just want to make the best decision....


Any help would be GREATLY appreciated :)
edited February 2009
18 replies
Post edited by tajamariee on
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Replies to: Atmosphere?

  • drbdrb 1326 replies57 threads Senior Member
    What are you interested in, academically and otherwise?
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  • tajamarieetajamariee 86 replies13 threads Junior Member
    I'm pretty sure I know enough about the academics in general (although, if you have any specifics about the Psychology program, that'd be great!), but I am more interested in the people/things to do. I know it's a huge university, but what is the overall "feeling" of the school/students (are they arrogant, accepting, stuck up, etc).
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  • drbdrb 1326 replies57 threads Senior Member
    As its a huge university, you get all kinds. At the risk of over-generalizing, I'd say its majority white middle class, politically liberal, academically diligent but not brainiac, outdoorsy, with a fraction of political activists (more left than right, but both present and accounted for), stoners, and post-adolescent yahoos. 4/20 and skiing is as big as football and the Greek scene, and alot of people are doing all of the above. Very accepting of OOS (like my D) as the Colorado students get sick of seeing all their HS classmates and welcome new blood. And, while it is indeed "huge" in enrollment, students move off-campus after freshman year, so the student population is distributed.

    I imagine its not unlike Penn State, except without Joe Paterno and with the Rockies.
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  • ColoradoMomof2ColoradoMomof2 603 replies12 threads Member
    drb's description is accurate. I have two kids at CU - one is a junior/senior who is studying abroad this semester and the other is a freshman. Like drb said, there are all kinds of kids there, so you have the opportunity to find your niche. The Psychology major is one of the most popular ones there, so expect very large introductory classes for the first couple of years.

    Probably the biggest difference is that Penn State is more successful as a whole in athletics, so I think their student following is bigger at games and the like than what happens at CU (other than for football where many kids go to the games at Folsom). So if you like sports a lot, advantage goes to Penn State. On the other hand, Happy Valley, is, without putting Penn State down at all, in the middle of the state and not that close to a big city. Boulder, on the other hand, is close to Denver which can give you the opportunity for a change of scenery relatively easily. And, you're less than two hours away from many of the ski slopes, which is a big draw for many kids.

    I think that overall the kids are friendly and accepting of others. Like drb said, they really do like out of staters because at least in our case, a lot of the kids from our high school attend CU and my D and S really don't see many of them at all now because they saw them for 13 years in our public school system and are sick of them. The only time out of staters get any grief (or a cold shoulder) are the ones who like to talk about how great things are in their home state, and how "lame" something is here. Um, then why are you here and not THERE instead?

    In any event, good luck in your decision!
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  • tajamarieetajamariee 86 replies13 threads Junior Member
    What I hear about Penn State is that... well, they're full of drunken students who put partying over academics. I KNOW that's not uncommon within a huge state school, but I would think CU Boulder would be more accepting rather than rude [I know this is stereotyping, but typically drunks (PSU) tend to be obnoxious, rude, etc. while stoners (Boulder) tend to be more calm and laidback]. I also GREATLY dislike PSU being in the middle of nowhere. I love big cities, as I've grown up with NYC 20 minutes away from my house for the last 12 years, and I think Boulder would be great.

    Also, I have no idea how to ski. Or ride a bike. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I have a fear with balancing and it just freaks me out. Will I not fit in because I can't ski? I LOVE nature and I love hiking, but the whole bike riding thing just isn't for me.
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  • ColoradoMomof2ColoradoMomof2 603 replies12 threads Member
    I am friends with some Penn State grads who definitely do NOT fit the stereotype that you are talking about. Without ever having been to Happy Valley myself, I would seriously doubt that they are any more or less accepting of others than they would be in Boulder. Both places will have partiers and both places will have those serious about studying. In most cases, the kids try and find a balance of both.

    Don't worry about not skiing, if you attended CU that wouldn't be an issue. A lot of people don't ski. (But you may want to give it a go and try it for a day - rent equipment and take lessons - it really is fun :)) The same with biking - no big deal. There are lots of great hiking trails up in the Flatirons near Boulder, so you're set.
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  • tajamarieetajamariee 86 replies13 threads Junior Member
    Yeah, I know not everyone fits that Penn State stereotype, but it just seems that there is enough people who do to make me feel uncomfortable. One of my best friends is going to Penn State next year, and he wants me to go with him. We just have different personalities (which is strange, since we're born on the same day!) and tend to get along with the opposite "type" of people. He's more of a double-shot-techno-music-dance-hall type of guy, while I'm.... not.

    I really appreciate all of the info. Since you have two kids there, do you think the price for OOS is worth it for the education? And as the Psychology major being the largest... does that mean the program is very good, or does it mean a lot of people don't want to be considered "undecided" and put down "psychology"?
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  • ColoradoMomof2ColoradoMomof2 603 replies12 threads Member
    If it's "worth it" for OOS is such a relative question, that I hesitate to answer. Are you from Pennsylvania? Who's paying for college, and do they have an opinion on the subject (if it's someone other than you)? Would you have to take out loans to go to CU? How much? Are you interested in a post-graduate degree, so more $$$ needed after your Bachelor's is attained? How about travel costs? Who is gonna pay for you to go home? Is it okay if you don't go home as often as you would if you went someplace in state?

    Only you, and those close to you can really sit down and think about the answers to these questions.

    I can't answer your question about Psychology because my D's major is Economics and my son's is Biology, but I think it must speak highly of the Psychology program that so many stick it out in those large lecture halls to finally get to the smaller, "meatier" classes.
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  • tajamarieetajamariee 86 replies13 threads Junior Member
    Both PSU and CU would be out of state for me, and it seems as though PSU has a reputation for stronger academics. Basically, I'm torn over better academics and where I'd feel truly comfortable. I DO want to attend graduate school, which is why I'd consider PSU. Do many students go from CU to top graduate schools (who are obviously in the top of their class)? Does the "party school" reputation make it harder to get in to these schools?


    Sorry for all of the questions, I just truly want to go to CU (as does my dad), but I just want to be sure I'm making the most educated decision.
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  • tajamarieetajamariee 86 replies13 threads Junior Member
    OH one more question :P. One of your kids is doing a study abroad program - does he/she like it?! That's what I love most about Boulder, it seems like the study abroad program is AMAZING. Is the application progress difficult?
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  • ColoradoMomof2ColoradoMomof2 603 replies12 threads Member
    I can vouch for CU's academics, as I feel that both my kids are getting good educations and are challenged daily. My husband and I are attorneys, so we know a little about academic rigor and feel like CU is doing right by our kids.

    D was valectorian of a class of 450 in high school and is now Phi Beta Kappa. She has taken some very demanding courses, and continues to do so. She was accepted at Georgetown and UCLA, but when it came down to the final decision, she knew that she would probably be going to grad school in some field, so she decided to save the $$$ and pay in-state tuition. No regrets. I don't think she'll have any difficulty whatsoever getting into a graduate school when she wants to go.

    S graduated in the top 15% of his high school class, and has done very well his first semester. He "bonded" with his Biology advisor, and is already planning on working for the department in a year, and will eventually apply to be a TA in the department while working to get his Masters. He only wanted to go to CU, so no second thoughts. Kid is working hard, playing hard, and loving life right now, which I guess is all you really want as a parent.

    Your ability to go on to graduate school would not be hindered by going to CU or PSU. There are smart, motivated people everywhere, and they get into post-graduate programs all over regardless of any school's "party" image. It's on personal merits, not by the school's reputation.

    Yes, our D is enjoying her Study Abroad Program. They do have a lot of choices all around the world. Some are VERY costly, though, so beware. If you're interested, you need to start looking at this stuff second semester of your freshman year, because some programs have foreign language requirements, and you may need to pick that up in your class schedule for when you're a sophomore.
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  • tajamarieetajamariee 86 replies13 threads Junior Member
    Thank you very much :) I feel more comfortable with the school, and your answered reassured what I knew all along. Thanks again! (I hope I don't have any questions later :P)
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  • ColoradoMomof2ColoradoMomof2 603 replies12 threads Member
    You're welcome. If you have more questions, just ask here or send me a p.m. If I don't know the answer, I'll try and find out. Or I'll just make something up. ;)
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  • tajamarieetajamariee 86 replies13 threads Junior Member
    LOL thank you so much!
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  • drbdrb 1326 replies57 threads Senior Member
    I don't think there is a big difference in the perception of CU and PSU academically, although specific programs may have different strengths (e.g., aerospace engineering at CU). Also, the perception will vary regionally. But if you are prefer CU, and your parents are supportive, I certainly would not choose PSU over it because of academic quality.

    Worth the OOS $? As CM2 noted, thats very personal. For us, it was a place our D wanted to be, we could afford it, and its still way less than a private LAC. She is happy there, and doing well, so its all good.

    Also, study abroad is a great option for OOS, as it can actually can cost less for the semester.
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  • tajamarieetajamariee 86 replies13 threads Junior Member
    It can cost less for the semester? How is that? Also, is there an application process/what are the qualifications for the study abroad program?
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  • ColoradoMomof2ColoradoMomof2 603 replies12 threads Member
    tajamariee, you can get information at
    Error Occurred While Processing Request
    (It says there's an error, but if you click on it, it takes you to the CU Study Abroad program link - Weird, huh?)

    Play around on the site; there's a lot to look at. You can spend a long time looking at various options, and you can read what previous students thought of a particular program.

    It can be cheaper for a semester for OOS stufents than paying for a "regular" semester at CU, but the program prices do vary greatly. Like I said before, you look at each program's requirements to get yourself set up. There is an application process and you have to have at least a certain gpa to be eligible for some programs. You may also have to obtain a visa, and for my D's former roommate, hers to study abroad in Chile actually required her to fly to Los Angeles to appear in person to get hers (our D did not have to do this to get her visa and neither did her boyfriend who is also studying abroad in another country). You may also have to get a series of immunizations to enter a certain country (or at a minimum they are strongly recommended by the program) and that can take up to 6 months to get the shot series completed.
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  • tajamarieetajamariee 86 replies13 threads Junior Member
    Thank you!
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