A great question – and one we get a lot. The good news – and the bad news – is that there are a lot of ways students decide on their Penn State campus. Some choose to attend a campus with their best friends, others are looking for a specific club or organization, and still others want a campus that is completely different from their high school/home experience. I have even heard of a student that selected a campus based on the campus name – not a method we would suggest, but in the end, it worked out for that student!
When we talk to students about their campus choices, our discussions typically revolve around three main considerations: location, size, and availability of on-campus housing. Let’s tackle location first.
Penn State has 20 undergraduate campuses, and students can start their studies in almost all majors at any one of them through the 2+2 plan. Pennsylvania is a big state, and Penn State has representation in most every part of it. As a land grant institution, Penn State was charged to educate the citizens of Pennsylvania, and our campuses allow this to happen in the communities where students live. But, our campuses don’t serve only Pennsylvanians! You will find students from all over the country, and the world, at each of our campuses.
So, when you are considering location while making a campus choice, you have to decide on such factors as urban or rural, close to home or as far away as you can get – and with 20 locations, we are pretty sure that you can find the perfect type of community and environment for you. You should also consider how you are going to get to campus, especially if you are traveling a far distance and need convenient access to different modes of transportation, like an airport.
Next, we typically talk about campus size as another factor in determining the best campus for you. Our campuses come in all sizes, ranging from 700 to 45,000 undergraduate students. Some students want a smaller, more intimate environment, while others are searching for the large campus experience – the nice thing is that students can have one, the other, or both at Penn State! All of our campuses offer 4-year degrees, so you can stay at a smaller campus that offers your major for your entire education; or, you can participate in the 2+2 plan and study two years at one campus and then transition to University Park or another campus to finish your degree. So whether you want a campus of 2,000 or 45,000, Penn State has many options for you.
Lastly, many students need to take into consideration the housing situation at their chosen campus. Ten of our campuses have University-owned, on-campus housing, while the others feature a wide variety of off-campus options for students close to campus. Living on campus is optional for students, with the exception of first-year students at University Park – who are required to live on campus. Some students know they want to attend a campus and live in a residence hall with dining options, while others want the freedom of living off-campus. And, those campuses that have residence halls also feature off-campus options for Penn Staters, so you lots of options when considering your desired living environment.
The best thing you can do as you are trying to determine the campus of your choice is to explore the campus list on our website for more details about each campus. We also provide links to each campus website for you to further research your options, as well as information about scheduling a visit, which is something we recommend you do, if possible. But if you have further questions, please contact us, and we would be happy to discuss our campuses with you. And remember – whatever your campus choice, it is all Penn State! We are …