Location: State College, PA
Size: 40,085 enrolled
Percent Women: 46%
Tuition (one year): $17,502 (In-state) $30,452 (Out-of-state)
Most Popular Majors:
- Communication, Journalism and Related Programs
- Social Sciences
- Health Professions and Related Programs
Greek Life:Yes -- 89 fraternities and sororities
Acceptance Rate: 55.5%
For more information about financial aid, scholarships, majors, study abroad, and average test scores, visit Penn State’s website.
Why Choose Penn State?
"Even though it's such a big school, there's so many organizations you can join to make it feel small and all your own. It's the best of both worlds!"
"I chose Penn State for the incredible and undeniable school spirit and pride that every student and alumni has for this school."
"I chose Penn State because when I came to campus for the first time, I met the friendliest people who all wanted to accomplish great things. I wanted to be in a community that worked hard and had fun!"
"I had been here many times before, but the moment I attended my first game in Beaver Stadium as a teenager, I knew this was the place I wanted to be."
"It's in the middle of nowhere, but there's so many things going on all the time that it's almost impossible to ever be bored. You get the small town feel from campus and the night life of downtown State College all in one."
The Largest Student-Run Philanthropy in the World
“All I can say is: this is what Penn Staters can do when they come together. There is nothing like the feeling of standing in the BJC, after a year of hard work and effort, with thousands of strangers turned into one family.”
“It's such a blessing to go to a school that is academically excellent, has a great social scene and also houses the largest student-run philanthropy. You really get the full experience here!”
One of the Top Fitness Programs in the Country
"PSU Fitness classes are so universal and can be tailored to what any individual might want to get out of their workout."
"I think we have one of the best fitness programs in the country because the instructors really help students reach their personal best without any added intimidation."
“The Berkey Creamery is a must-try and is pretty addictive. Chances are you'll spend more time here as a freshman when you live closer, but make sure to treat yourself when you can! You deserve it... leave no flavor un-tasted!”
“The ice cream is indescribable. I guarantee it’ll be the creamiest thing you’ve ever tasted.”
Penn State Football
“Whether you're a football fan or not, Penn State football games are a must. Penn State pride is something that can't be explained - only experienced... WE ARE!”
“They don't call it the greatest show in college sports for nothing. Responding "PENN STATE!" to "WE ARE…" sends chills up my spine. There's really nothing like cheering on the lions with the entire student section. Plus, football games give great outfit/instagram opportunities!”
“We were voted #1 student section in the country. Enough said.”
“On campus parking is really hard to get and extremely expensive. For a school with over 40,000 students, there should definitely be more parking lots and easier and cheaper ways to get a parking space. Some of the lots are even miles away from campus, and you need to take the bus to get to it. Also, if you don’t live on campus like me and don’t have a meal plan, you sometimes need a car to get groceries and other necessities.”
“Finding places to live after your freshman year can be difficult. All of the apartments off campus are so high in demand, which doesn’t make it easy to get your first preference. You also have to decide where you are living and who you are living with a year ahead of time. If you want to live on campus, you have to fill out your housing contract way ahead of time as well. So either way you have to make a decision super fast!”
“I wish this campus was more diverse. Sometimes when I’m walking to class it seems like everyone is the same and that’s pretty boring. Almost half the people I know are from the same five areas of PA and the others are from maybe New Jersey or New York.”
"Because most of the classes here are so big, individual attention from the professors doesn't really exist unless you go out of your way to personally interact with them or attend their office hours outside of class."
"Getting around such a large campus be quite the challenge sometimes. The layout is pretty easy to pick up once you get here, but the bus systems can be unreliable at times and there are so many different buildings that you almost always have to have a map with you when you start a new class."
New Collegiette On Campus
"It's so overwhelming at first! I didn't remember where anything was for a while... the campus maps come in handy!"
"Once you get used to it, it feels like home. What's great is that you'll find, even as a senior, that there are still new hidden spots that you can discover, which is so amazing."
"Living in the dorms here is a huge adjustment, especially if you've had your own room your whole life. Also, getting used to a new roommate can be tough. However, the RAs talk to you a lot about how to get adjusted during the first week."
"They offer a lot of opportunities for new students to get adjusted to the school both before they arrive and during their first week such as Spend a Summer Day, the LEAP program and Welcome Week."
"Being a freshman in college is so much different than being one in high school. Although you'll still get teased every once and a while, you'll find out that everyone is actually just jealous of you and wishes they still had four years left at Penn State."
All About Academics
“The size of a university like Penn State may be intimidating, but one of the greatest classes I took as an undergrad was Soc 119- Race & Relations, which was held in a 700-person lecture hall! In addition to lecture, we had smaller discussion groups of about 20 people once a week, which really brought things together on a more personal level.”
"The library system includes books from all 24 campuses in the Penn State network. The online search tool is easy to use, and the staff are really helpful, too.”
“Before you graduate, you have to study for finals in the stacks. It’s part of the Penn State bucket list.”
"The Smeal College of Business is ranked number one by The Wall Street Journal for undergraduate business programs overall."
“Prof. Sam Richards is world-famous. He’s been featured in national publications, and when I was in the class, there were even people there filming for an upcoming reality show! Students who aren’t even in his class will come and listen to him because he’s so engaging and interesting.”
"Penn State is one of the largest research universities in the country. The Millennium Science Complex is the research department’s newest addition to campus, boasting a gravity-defying building design and the finest laboratories and resources in the field."
Learn from the Best
"The Schreyers Honors College offers some amazing opportunities for students at Penn State."
"Soc 119 is a must-take class here. It will truly change your perspective and life!"
"Dr. Rosa Eberly is a must-take professor. Especially CAS 478! She is incredible, engaging, and makes sure her students learn through discussion and debates."
"The experience of the professors is incredible. Many of them have held esteemed positions throughout their careers in their area of expertise and have come back to teach them to all of us."
"With the size of most classes, office hours are always a good idea if you're having trouble understanding anything in class. Many professors get frustrated when students don't come to them for help, and you'll get major brownie points just for showing up."
Interests and Involvement
“Penn State is well known for its dance marathon, also known as THON, which raises money for children with cancer. It’s say to safe almost every on-campus organization, including Greek Life (even Her Campus PSU is a recognized THON organization) raises money for THON through on-campus fundraisers like blood drives and bakes sales as well as weekend long ‘canning trips’ where we go to each others hometowns and raise money at intersections and places like coffee shops and delis. All of this fundraising leads up to a 46-hour dance marathon, which is a highly anticipated weekend at PSU. THON is something that a lot of PSU students are very passionate about and love taking part in.”
"I've always been into the outdoors and hiking. I guess you could say it's something I'm really passionate about. So, the summer before my freshman year I participated in Orion, a 6-day backpacking trip that freshmen can take before they start their first semester at Penn State. It was a great way to get to know my future classmates and explore the beautiful outdoors surrounding the Penn State campus. Participating in Orion also gave me leadership opportunities, as I was an Orion leader as a sophomore this past summer."
“The fall of my freshman year, I went through formal sorority recruitment and found that it wasn’t for me. So during the spring of my freshman year I rushed the business fraternity- Phi Chi Theta. It was a great way for me to meet an amazing group of friends (boys and girls, since it’s co-ed), get involved in THON, have social opportunities and experience leadership positions. I also get to combine extracurricular activities with my academics since I’m in the school of business.”
“Being in a sorority really makes a big school like Penn State smaller and more adjustable. You join a group of girls that have similar interests and values that you do. Sororities foster life-long friendships and the opportunity to bond with a group of girls that will become your best friends. Greek life also allows for opportunities to do service, be a leader, thrive socially and get involved in THON!”
“Penn State has so many amazing opportunities to explore your interests outside academics. I had one of the best weeks of my life in Panama last summer on a medical mission trip organized by Penn State’s Global Brigades. And it’s never too late to get involved in something new! It’s also really easy to get involved with undergraduate research. Many professors have labs open to students, and a few quick emails could connect you with interesting and exciting opportunities.”
"If there's one thing Penn State students pride themselves on, it's our school spririt. No matter what happens to this university, we are all proud to say we go to Penn State, and that's something that will never change."
"Penn State football is not just a sport around here - it's a lifestyle. Come game day, everyone is at Beaver Stadium cheering on the Nittany Lions. You don't even have to be a football fan to appreciate the incredible atmosphere."
"With the incredible talent of Penn State athletes, being able to play on an official atheltic team isn't always easy. However, club sports are a great alternative that many students take when they still want to be involved in sports while in school. There are currently 78 club sport organizations totaling over 5,000 members that meet regularly for practices and competitions."
"It's pretty hard not to get excited about the athletics around here. Not only do we have an incredible football team, but our wrestling team has won 4 straight NCAA wrestling championships and our women's volleyball is ranked no. 6."
"I know everyone likes to go to the football games, but try your best to support other sports while you're here. The athletes are all amazingly talented and will put on a good show no matter what sport you may be watching."
"I know everyone associates Penn State with our football team, but our women athletes kick butt. They dominate in almost every sport - we even have a women's hockey team!"
“I love the fact that the gender ratio here is basically 50/50. Depending on your major, your classes may have an unequal ratio, but walking around campus, you’ll never notice one gender more than the other.”
“There are so many clubs and organizations here devoted to causes that affect women such as domestic violence, education and breast cancer. If there isn’t one that supports a cause you care about, you can create one!”
“Sexual assault and rape are always big concerns when you go away to college, but Penn State provides many options to avoid walking home alone at night such as a walk hotline where a police officer will come to your location and escort you home. They also send out crime reports and other important information through PSU TXT.”
“It’s amazing the diversity you see among the women on campus. You can’t really describe the typical Penn State style because there are so many different types of girls from different backgrounds.”
Food & Drink
“There are 5 different dining halls on campus– one for each set of dorms. The nice thing is that your meal points work at all of them, so if you get bored with one you can explore other options. “
“The chocolate chip cookies in West Halls are an absolute must. They keep them in this glass case where they’re kept warm and gooey right up to the moment you put it on your plate. They even have their own Facebook fan page."
“I prefer dining at the HUB over the dining halls during the day. It’s nice because of its central location so no matter where you are between classes, it’s not a far walk to get a quick bite. Plus they have so many options from Chick Fil-a to Panda to Burger King to Starbucks. “
“For the days when you’re just not feeling the dining hall, it’s really nice to be able to take a walk downtown or a short bus trip and find almost any type of restaurant you could ever want right on College Ave.. It’s not the best idea to get in a habit of this since you should use the meal points you already paid for, but it’s nice to treat yourself every once and a while.”
“One thing many incoming students may not know is that the Berkey Creamery offers way more than just ice cream. In the mornings, they have coffee and hot drinks, breakfast sandwiches, bagels and any type of snack. It’s also the perfect location because it’s located right next to East Halls, which is where most freshmen choose to live.”
“The grilled stickies at The Diner on West College Ave. are life-changing.”
“One thing we are known for around here is the nightlife. Whether you’re a freshman headed to the frat parties or a senior hitting up the bars downtown, you know you’re going to have a good time.”
“I really like the fact that most of the fraternities here are open to allowing girls in who aren’t in a sorority. Some frats like to be exclusive but most of them will open up their houses to people for parties – just be sure you don’t have too many boys with you!”
“The social scene totally differs depending on who you talk to. Some people like house parties, others stick to apartments and some are at frat houses every night. Your freshman year you’ll start to realize what you’re comfortable with and find others who like the same type of scene that you do, which is a great way to make friends.”
“Thursday nights are regarded as the unofficial start to the weekend to most Penn State students. It’s a very popular night to go out, so if you can avoid early Friday morning classes, do it!”
“I know many people come here to get crazy and party every night, but I’ve found that it’s perfectly acceptable to chill out every once and a while. There are students that don’t drink and don’t choose to partake in the nightlife that are perfectly happy finding other things to do. Though there isn’t much directly downtown, movie theaters, bowling alleys and other weekend activities are just a short drive away.”
“I’m not going to lie, the freshmen dorms here are pretty small. It definitely takes some getting used to when you first move in, but eventually, it becomes second nature. Plus, you’re much more thankful for normal living conditions when you move off campus.”
“I remember going into my freshman year I was absolutely terrified for the bathroom situation. I was scared all the showers would be taken when I need them or it would always be crowded, but within the first week, I realized it wasn't going to be a problem. Everyone has different schedules and there will be very few times that there will be more than 3 other girls in the bathroom when you are.”
“When you decide first-year living, there’s always a huge debate among students whether to request East Halls or Pollock Halls. East is far from downtown and has the smallest dorms while Pollock is more centrally located and has average-sized rooms. However, I promise you East Halls is the way to go your freshman year. It may sound crazy, but East Halls is made up entirely of freshmen and it creates an amazing atmosphere that you don’t want to miss out on your first year here. Also, it’s by far the closest you can possibly get to Beaver Stadium and the Bryce Jordan Center, which is always a plus.”
“Now that I’m living off campus, it actually surprises me how much I miss the dorms sometimes. As much as I love the independence of having my own space, the type of community and camaraderie you get when living on a dorm floor is unmatched by any other living option, so make the most of it while you’re there!”
"When you first meet the people on your floor, it's always kind of weird and some people think it's uncool to do all the group bonding activities the RA tries to organize, but try your best to attend them! These are the people you're going to be living with the rest of the year and the last thing you want is for things to be awkward."
Exploring State College
“Coming from a small town, State College was the perfect place for me. It has all the feel of a city with the busy streets and window-shopping without being overwhelming. Basically anything you could ever want from the restaurants to the bars to the stores, is located somewhere between College Ave. and Beaver Ave., which are the two major streets that run parallel to each other and make up downtown State College. “
“Since State College was basically built around the university, it’s really nice how everything is laid out. One minute you’re on campus, the next you’re downtown and the next you’re on Fraternity Row, all within a 5-minute walk. It’s amazing to be able to experience it all without being restricted by distance. “
“The one bummer of State College is the fact that it doesn't really have a full-scale grocery store or other types of larger retail stores due to its size. They do have smaller stores that will most likely carry everything you could possibly have on your grocery list, but they tend to jack up the prices. I recommend finding a friend who has a car and can take you on Wal-Mart trips to save a little money!”
“Some people like to make fun of State College for being in the middle of nowhere, but personally, I find it charming. It’s amazing how you can spend one night at a crazy party downtown and spend the next morning hiking a nature trail just outside of town. It really is the best of both worlds.
“I love the fact that the school and State College are so connected. Almost every resident of State College is a Penn State fan and they are always willing to support the university and everything that we do. Most of the businesses even accept Lion Cash and will offer sweet discounts to students!”
HC's Complete College Guide: Penn State University
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