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Re: Penn State info...
Posted By: Bill Ames
Date: Friday, 6 October 2006, at 6:31 a.m.
Sure . . . Penn State is one of the best all-around public schools in the country, and it ranks in the top 25 in many of its programs. It is a huge university, with over 60,000 students spread out over the state at 13 different campuses. The main campus has 35,000 of them.
Don't let that scare you :-)
The English program, in my humble opinion, is one of the best kept secrets at this large institution. While most people know PSU for it's business school, college of engineering, or agriculture, the English department sits there quietly with a small but energetic staff.
The PhD program in English (depending on where and when you look) is rated in the top 25, with an excellent ratio of students to faculty.
Most of the faculty members are tenured, and most are recognized nationally, and most undergraduate students know their professors well enough to say 'hi!' to them on the street. This is unusual at PSU, where most undergradiate courses have 150-500 students.
English is one of the smallest departments at Penn State, but because of the university's wealth (its budget is over 3 billion dollars!) it is well funded. The small size makes for a nice class size, and a personal relationship with the faculty.
I didn't start out at State in the liberal arts . . . I, like most people my age, wanted to be an engineer. I am quite happy that I stumbled into the English department here. I have nothing but good things to say about it!
1 out of every 3 meterologists is a Penn State grad.
Ben and Jerry learned to make ice cream through a Penn State course--the ice cream here is legendary.
The annual dance marathon is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
Lots more, but I can't think of anything off the top of my head.
There are literally hundreds of clubs and student organizations here, including Kalliope, a well respected student literary journal.
The Daily Collegian (the campus newspaper) is very well regarded, and has won numerous awards.
If you want to learn isshinryu karate, or medieval weaponry, there are clubs here for that.
The borough of State College (home to PSU) is kind of weird. The university was placed here because it is the geographical center of Pennsylvania. As some people put it, "it's equally inconvenient for everybody." Of course, now there are a good deal of major roads and the borough is the fastest growing areas in the state.
There are two interstate highways nearby (one under construction) and a small airport, but generally speaking, it's a small town. I have lived in a few other places, and I like the fact that there is very little crime here. You can safely walk the streets at 4am.
As far as big city amenities, there are far more than you would expect for a little town in the middle of farm fields. We have the world's highest volume Wal-Mart (as well as the #6 store) a Target, Circuit City, and all the major chains you would want. There is a world-class convention center, The Bryce Jordan Center, and an adequate smattering of arts.
Of course, Penn State is also home to the Nittany Lion Football team (doing very poorly this year--in fact it's the worst year since 1949) and there are more active Penn State alumni than any other college or university.
PSU is affordable, safe, well regarded, respected . . . well, outside of the IVY league and some snobbish places like Northwestern (highly overrated, in my opinion), it's top notch. There is also a gigantic network of alumni that make life easy once you graduate.
Services are excellent, and include job placement, health care, free buses and way more things to do than you could ever possibly do.
One of the best kept secrets of the area is it's hundreds of miles of pristine hiking trails--I'm very into that, if you've looked around my web site :-)
The downfalls? Well, there is a 'party' atmosphere, which can be good or bad, depending on your viewpoint. It's far less wild than it used to be when I first came here, and the administration has made some progress in bridling the undergraduate's passions.
You could probably do better than Penn State, but you could also do a heck of a lot worse . . . I would recommend it to anybody.
The official PSU home page . . . and sales pitch!
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