If you’re looking for a place to have a frat party after a sold-out football game at an awesome stadium with lots of beer, Penn State could be the place for you.
If what you want out of your education is a well-run institution with a great library, good health services and a great newspaper, plus good career services but maybe a not-so-good aid package, well, that might be Penn State, too.
These very different takeaways both come courtesy of the latest list of lists published by the Princeton Review.
The company that generates test preparation materials for SATs, AP exams and other academic products, plus college admission resources, annually ranks schools in areas as serious as “Who studies the most?” and “Who has best access to professors?” to the more frivolous questions of “Where is the food best?” and “Who has the most beer?”
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Penn State took second place in the beer category. The university also took the silver in the “Students Pack the Stadium” list.
On the good side, Penn State was named the bronze winner in both Best Newspaper for The Daily Collegian and Best Health Services. There was a fourth-place finish in Best Career Services. Venues like Beaver Stadium and Bryce Jordan Center scored a 10th-place finish out of a field of hundreds of colleges and universities in the athletic facilities category.
The administration scored a 12th-place finish in the Best Run list. The university’s libraries were named the 20th best in the country.
Then there were the not so good rankings. Probably related to the beer, Nittany Lions were listed as hard partiers, with a 13th-place finish. To be fair, that’s lower than it has been in the past, topping the list in 2009.
The school was named fifth in the Not Great Financial Aid ranking. It came in 13th in Greek life, which might be a positive if you are thinking about Thon or a negative if you are thinking about the Kappa Delta Rho Facebook scandal.
But according to the university, any of the rankings need to be taken with a grain of salt.
“These rankings are little more than popularity contests, based on student surveys. That goes for the ‘good’ categories as well as the ‘not-so-good’ categories. There are always at least 10 sites on Facebook per school urging students to vote and make their own school the No. 1 party school,” said spokeswoman Lisa Powers.
“We understand that students and parents do check rankings, and our hope is that they give more attention to fact-based information, such as our high graduation rates among both student-athletes and the general student population, as well as the fact that we have many highly ranked academic programs and colleges,” she said. “Studies have shown that applicants are discerning in which aspects they care about the most, and we’d like to think our prospective students care most about academics and success.”