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Posted at 12:20 AM ET, 04/21/2010

College Tour '10: Penn State University

By Valerie Strauss

University Park, Penn.
Penn State University
From a parent

My daughter and I toured the University Park campus (Penn State U. flagship campus) during spring break. She had high expectations, as this was one of the colleges she wanted to apply to in the fall. The campus is big and sprawling. So large the tour guides used campus buses as well as walking to showcase the university.

We were treated to a complementary lunch at one of the residential eating locations near the Admissions building. The place was virtually empty except for other touring families. The food offerings were few and except for the salad bar did not have very healthy food choices, however it was an ’all you can eat’ venue.

The admissions presentation was a collection of packaged film shorts and the person presenting did not answer a lot of the questions posed and then ended the session before everyone had a chance to ask their question because tour guides had arrived.

The presentation would have been better uploaded on the website so meaningful content could have been presented during the admissions portion of the tour. Starting with the admissions presentation and continuing all the way through the tour, the constant theme was about the university’s sports programs and that they are a ’Big Ten’ school.


The mock dorm room size was OK but the residences lack Wi-Fi, the buildings are very dated (60’s), except for the sports facilities, with no visible upgrades and are not air conditioned. The dorm common rooms were sparse, cold and empty. The actual classroom was very small, and, my daughter noted, was poorly equipped compared to her current high school classrooms.

As my daughter and I were walking back to the car, she told me she was sure of one thing: This was a college she would not be applying to after all. She said it felt like just an extension of high school and she was looking for more than another four years of high school for her college experience.


This is one in a series of reports that parents and students are contributing about their campus tours this spring. If you have visited a school and would like to participate, email me a brief report at theanswersheet@washpost.com. You can find out more about College Tour ’10 and how to write about your college visit here.

Go to http://timespace.washingtonpost.com/project/college-2010/ to see more college posts in the series and a map displaying them all.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 21, 2010; 12:20 AM ET
Categories:  College Tour '10  | Tags:  Big Ten schools, College Tour '10, Penn State University, campuses that have wireless, college tour, wired campuses  
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Next: College Tour '10: Princeton University

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