This American Life in State College

This year, The Princeton Review named Penn State the #1 Party School in America. It's a rotating crown—last year it was University of Florida, before that it was West Virginia University. So we wondered: what's it like to beat the country's top party school? Note, Act Three was not in the broadcast version of the show. That's a web bonus.


I listened to this over the weekend and was both somewhat amused and really disturbed. If you don't listen to This American Life you are missing out on the best storytelling around. This episode hits really close to home … my home. As a matter of fact I was in Faculty Senate the day President Spanier talked about us being the number one party school that is referenced in the episode. I'd love to know how this makes both Penn Staters and others feel?

6 thoughts on “This American Life in State College

  1. I’ve not listened to this TAL yet (save them on podcast for my long drives to/from Phoenix)
    A dubious distinction indeed (Arizona State U got it when I was at grad school I think). It seems rather shameful (a) that anyone bothers to create such a ranking and (b) that we have to seriously worry about what it means. It’s sad that it is a popularized ranking in the lazy media- does the main/slipstream media make the same big deal about the universities that generate top research results or graduation rates or things that really matter?
    A lump of coal in their stockings!

  2. I think there’s a big difference between partying and drinking. I have always thought that going out drinking (at the bars, in dorms, tailgates, etc) was more prevalent here at Penn State than somewhere like Ole Miss where things were more oriented towards a bunch of folks having a party where drinking is going on… but where alcohol was not the primary focus.
    Not that there’s not a lots of alcohol being consumed, but its a lot more social. Its a bit difficult to explain if you’ve never been down South…
    The one exception is the fraternities… down South they are much more of an influence on the students than here at PSU…

  3. I did listen to [most of] the show – and I have only been a passer-through in PSU. Whatever little partying I saw, I thought it was due to that being Blue-White [or White-Blue] weekend and welcoming the onset of Spring.
    But everyone seemed happy and they treated me well – so, I got no complaints.

  4. The focus of the story was partying. Penn State students are well versed, as a body, in partying…some may say partying is many students’ primary focus. So truth be told – This story gave PSU publicity for something that could possibly be considered “bad” in public opinion, especially since many students are under 21. During the episode, I kept thinking about money, and how this story will potentially affect funding…funding from trustees, funding from the state, funding from whoever. We need money as a University. I doubt this story will help aid in positive support towards PSU, especially since the focus of student-body should be academics and not necessarily partying. Who knows, maybe PSU is well-known for academics too. But since the focus of the story was partying, it was left out…unfortunately.

  5. The best solution for those who are embarrassed by all this is simple – try to get it under control. I think that is up to the students, really. Someone should step up, or organize something to try to get this under control. I mean, this stuff makes me thankful I don’t live in a place where human beings deposit bodily fluids in my yard.
    I like our students a great deal, but the fact remains this is going on. I saw a lot of responses that range from this story being unfair (welcome to life, kids) to a rather odd/loathsome belief that demanding police take you places, blatant destruction of others’ property, and assaulting police officers is a given right. No.
    Penn State does a lot of great things, but vomiting/urinating on yards, ripping out signs, and damaging property is both literally and figuratively noisy. It tends to overwhelm achievements. Just ask Tiger Woods. It is, as they say, what it is.

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