My Honest Review of Penn State
When I chose to go to Penn State, I expected to transfer after one semester. I believed I was meant to be near a city, in New York or Boston. Yet here I am, four semesters later, in a town that would have never existed if Penn State had not existed. In my most honest opinion, Penn State is not fitting for a student who has lived near a metropolitan city for most of their childhood. If you are accustomed to an active lifestyle, you may never get used to State College, where the only active time of year is football season. Being a full-time college student here is the kind of culture shock that only allows me to further appreciate my home town.
To give context, I am from a small town in New Jersey that is a 45 minute train ride away from NYC and I attended a private catholic high school with 261 students in my graduating class. Although I am from a small town, I can drive a half hour or buy a train ticket to one of the most populous cities in the world. Although I was not friends with every one in my high school, there was no one in my class who I did not know. In contrast, Penn State is overwhelmingly huge. With over 46,000 students on the main campus, it is very limiting to connect with people when there are so many faces. The chances of running into someone you have already met is slim to none and you cannot forget that we all have our own separate lives, consumed with school work and other responsibilities.
Besides the downtown area, State College is not the town where you can go to and from aimlessly without transportation. You cannot leave the surrounding areas without at least paying for an Uber every time you would like to go to the nearest supermarket, movie theatre, or bowling alley. Although Penn State provides bus services, it is not preferred, especially if you are in a time crunch and/or claustrophobic. Despite this setback, many people who attend Penn State are accustomed to this suburbia because they have lived in Central, PA for most of their lives. If that is the case, you may not find State College to be as miserable.
You also might not be miserable at Penn State if you do not mind going out every weekend. However, if you are a student who chooses not to participate in the party culture or Greek life, it is almost impossible to find an activity during the weekends that does not involve spending at least $30. I would go out almost every weekend during my freshman year, if not every, because otherwise, I would be in my dorm room watching Netflix. There is no surprise that Penn State is #15 in the top party schools in America, there is not much else to do. If you do not go Greek at Penn State, you either have friends who are apart of the Greek culture or you are a part of the few who throw or attend apartment parties which is the ultimate scam. At apartment parties, you end up paying for transportation, paying to get in, just to have the police shut it down or may be it will continue, but it is just not enjoyable. This makes staying in bed, watching Netflix sound a little more entertaining, especially when your bank account is not suffering.
Fast forward to my sophomore year, I have developed a new approach to enjoying my college experience that does not involve filing transfer applications. At first, it was difficult to find a medium between seclusion and being actively involved on a huge campus but at a university like Penn State, it is up to you to choose how you will make a big school feel small. Whether it is joining organizations, going greek, or finding the right group of friends. When you make solid connections with people, your environment matters less. Finding those connections has been a challenge for me as I struggle to step out of my comfort zone but at the same time, it is a growing experience to try and make the best out of these college years. I feel confident in knowing that Penn State is not the ideal school for me but I will graduate being prepared in the real world, where you do not always have full control over where you will end up.