Statistically speaking, Penn State has some inimitable qualities. 24 campuses, the largest student-run philanthropic event in the world, and thousands of scholars bound by lion loyalty, especially in State College.
But the prodigious school spirit amongst students is only one of many reasons PSU is unique. Of course any student is going to say their school outdoes the others. Rivalries and friendly competition are an essential component of college. But something about Penn State is truly exceptional, and current students who have experienced other universities attest to it.
Junior Sam Sanders started out at Virginia Wesleyan College before transferring to Penn State. Living alongside only 1,500 fellow students, Sanders said she felt confined to a small place with little opportunity. “There was one way in and one way out,” she said.
At a school of such small stature, it is easy to be involved in everyone else’s business, something many people yearn to break free from when transitioning to college. Sanders said the worst part of Wesleyan was the juvenile high school atmosphere she felt.
“Penn State is much more fun,” she said. “Transitioning was challenging because there is so much to do compared to (Wesleyan), but the school spirit is awesome.”
Sanders also said she wanted to be included in Penn State’s ginormous alumni network, the largest in the world, and have a degree people know for being academically strong.
“I wanted to go somewhere that people knew, not a place where people ask ‘what?’” she said.
So maybe this perspective is bias. Maybe comparing such a small school to one as immense as Penn State is unfair. Of course things differ when a university’s entire student body could fit in a small fraction of the BJC. But what about swapping out dear old state’s blue and white for scarlet and grey?
Senior Sarah Aronson started her college career as an Ohio State Buckeye. Okay, everyone, gasp and settle your nerves. Although a known foe to the Nittany lions, Ohio State is comparable in size and spirit.
“Everyone there is extremely proud to be a Buckeye,” says Aronson. “It’s a proud university that never backs down from its name.”
Sounds familiar, right? But Ohio State is the third largest university in the nation, beating out University Park and housing close to 60,000 students on one campus. Aronson said the massive student body is apparent.
Aronson thought Ohio State would have everything she wanted; tons of students in a sea of scarlet embracing their Buckeye pride, and the opportunities coinciding with a large university. However, she transferred after one semester because she just didn’t belong, and Penn State was first on her radar.
“I walked around (Ohio State) and didn’t feel like I was a part of anything,” she said. Aronson instantly contacted a Penn State adviser on applying to main campus and received an acceptance letter by November of her first semester. “At Penn state, everyone is my friend and we’re all connected by pride and passion,”
“It truly feels unique,” she said.
According to Aronson, what makes Penn State so unique, even from a similar university, is the friendliness, dedication and acceptance all students share.
“Here, I’m not just a number.”
Junior Amanda Macedo, who has attended Penn State from the start, said choosing the school was the best decision of her life. She stressed that Penn State had the most diversity out of all schools she looked at. Not just ethnic diversity, she said, but a student body with a plethora of interests and differing approaches to life. Macedo also said the opportunities presented to her make her driven for success.
“When I graduate, I want to own a really nice car and put a Penn State sticker on it,” she said, wanting to credit her success to what the university offers.
Whether you’re born bleeding white and sweating blue or you’re transitioned from other school colors, Penn Staters agree they share ambition for success and a special connection not found anywhere else.
So, go ahead and shout “we are” from the rooftops, Happy Valley, and don’t let anyone stop you. You are one of a kind.
Photo by Jaclyn Stumm