Penn State University


Downtown State College. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

State College began as a simple village in Pennsylvania surrounded by mountains, forests and farmland, but soon evolved into a larger town to support Famer’s High School of Pennsylvania, founded in 1855. An agricultural college rather than a traditional liberal arts school, Farmer’s eschewed the moniker “college” in favor of “high school” to throw off any connection to a liberal arts curriculums. Farmer’s High School was renamed The Pennsylvania State University in 1953, and has been intrinsic to the city ever since its founding. Confusingly, the University’s address is listed for University Park; after a failed attempt to rename the town, and switching “College” for “University” after the University changed its name, the University applied for its own zipcode to address the problem.

Additional confusion may result from the tendency for the State College area to be referred to as “Happy Valley.” Oftentimes, sports commentators will simply refer to “Happy Valley” and completely bypass any mention of State College itself. The nickname’s origins are unclear and rather confusing, as the University is actually located in Nittany Valley, where the Nittany Lions get their name.

Old Main on the PSU Campus

Pennsylvania State University is the only land-grant university in the state of Pennsylvania and is considered one of the largest universities in the nation. Known as an American “Public Ivy,” a distinction reserved for only 15 public research universities, Penn State is considered an excellent academic institution. Beyond academics, PSU is considered an all-around fierce athletic competitor with one of the most successful athletic programs in the nation. The University is  backed by a loyal cheering section of students known for camping-out outside the stadium prior to game-day in an area dubbed “Nittanyville”.