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SAT: 720 math
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What is Purdue University Known For?

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Purdue University, home of the spirited Boilermakers, is a public university in Indiana known for its outstanding academic programs. Boasting excellent programs, such as in the STEM fields like engineering and mathematics, this university has novel opportunities for many students! Did you know that Neil Armstrong Hall is a prominent engineering building on campus? Well, Purdue students have access to an expansive alumni network and its associated resources. Like, have you ever checked your formatting using Purdue OWL? Keep reading to learn more about admissions, academics, culture, and traditions at Purdue University.


Overview of Purdue University Admissions


Location: West Lafayette, Indiana

Undergrad Enrollment: 33,700

Acceptance Rate: 59.8%

Middle 50% SAT: 1190-1440

Middle 50% ACT: 25-32


Purdue is a moderately selective school, with an acceptance rate of 59.8% during its last admissions cycle. The university is known for setting students up for great success after graduation. Through extensive career counseling services, Purdue puts time and resources toward helping students plan their futures. The effectiveness of the university’s focus on careers can be seen through the fact that Purdue is ranked as the 8th best public school in the nation for after-graduation employability.


Of course, to utilize Purdue’s extensive career counseling services, students must first apply to the school and be admitted. To apply to Purdue, prospective students should use the Common Application. In addition to Common App’s personal essay, the university requires that students complete the “Why Major?” and “Why Purdue?” short essays. 


As you read more about the academic programs at Purdue and the university culture, you can start to generate some ideas for your supplemental essays. Nevertheless, be sure to check out CollegeVine’s Guide to the Purdue Essays for more guidance!


Unique Aspects of Purdue University






The most popular majors at Purdue include Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, and Business. In total, the university offers 108 different undergraduate majors within the following 13 schools and colleges:


  • College of Agriculture
  • College of Education
  • College of Engineering
  • Exploratory Studies
  • College of Health and Human Sciences
  • College of Liberal Arts
  • Krannert School of Management
  • College of Pharmacy 
  • Purdue Polytechnic Institute
  • College of Science
  • College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Honors College
  • The Graduate School


Noteworthy Programs


Some of the most prestigious schools and colleges at Purdue include:


The College of Engineering: Purdue’s College of Engineering is one of the most noteworthy engineering programs in the country. Many students end up attending Purdue because of the school’s name recognition in the engineering industry. A large part of the school’s prestige comes from the aerospace program; with its outstanding alumni like Neil Armstrong! And all of the engineering degrees offered at Purdue prepare students for great success in the industry!


The College of Agriculture: Through its 31 different majors (including Agricultural Engineering, Biochemistry, Agricultural Systems Management, Sustainable Foods, and Farming Systems, and more), the College of Agriculture at Purdue educates students on the challenges that affect our planet and our journey towards sustainable living. Students are trained to think efficiently and creatively about how to approach these challenges. While agriculture is a niche field of study, graduates from agriculture programs are currently in demand and will be crucial for the future of sustainability.


The College of Pharmacy: Purdue’s College of Pharmacy was established in 1884 and has built a strong reputation. The two undergraduate programs offered by the college are the B.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Pre-PharmD program. In the Pre-PharmD program, students participate in the 2-year, non-degree program then apply for their 4-year PharmD program. This 6-year accelerated path to a PharmD professional degree is advantageous for future pharmacists looking to incur less debt.


The College of Veterinary Medicine: Purdue’s veterinary medicine program falls within the world’s top 50 programs. The one undergraduate degree offered by the College of Veterinary Medicine is in Veterinary Nursing. To pursue a DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) professional degree, students must first complete a bachelor’s degree outside of the College of Veterinary Medicine. Students who want to pursue a DVM professional degree through the College of Veterinary Medicine often complete their undergraduate studies through the College of Agriculture or the College of Science.




Purdue offers over 100 minors that generally require an additional 15 units of coursework. Popular minors include Psychology, Human Development and Family Studies, Organizational Leadership, and Business Economics. While students can pursue minor coursework during the school year, the University gives students the option to pursue their minor exclusively during summer sessions. Many students take advantage of this flexible system to focus on their major during the school year and their minor during the summer.


Study Abroad


Students at Purdue have access to 300 study abroad programs in 50 different countries. While study abroad has not always held a prominent place in Purdue undergraduate studies, over the past decade, more students have taken advantage of these programs. Popular study abroad locations for students include Australia, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. 




One major perk of Purdue University is its urban/suburban setting in West Lafayette, Indiana. Like most cities in the Midwest, West Lafayette is characterized by friendly residents and tranquil geography (the city overlooks the pleasant Wabash River). That being said, West Lafayette also presents uniquely vibrant energy because the area is primarily populated by Purdue students who bring life to the city’s bars and restaurants. Purdue University’s location makes it the perfect place for students seeking a healthy balance of serenity and vibrance in their college community.




Many universities will advertise the large number of clubs and organizations that they have on campus, but few can back up their claims as well as Purdue University. With 1,075 registered student organizations, the fifth-highest number in the country, Purdue truly offers something for everyone. Some interesting clubs at Purdue include the Purdue Vinyl Club, Purdue Board Gamers United, and Purdue Hiking Club.


Additionally, the presence of Greek life on Purdue’s campus is notably large, with about 20% of students involved. The school has over 40 fraternities and 18 sororities and is the third-largest Greek community in the nation. While Greek life can play a large role in your life on campus if you choose for it to, students do not feel left out if they do not participate in Greek life.


One popular extracurricular on campus is the Boiler Gold Rush (casually called BGR). BGR is the week-long orientation program that incoming freshmen go through at Purdue, but because it is so enjoyable, older students love returning to be BGR Team Leaders so that they can plan new activities and events for the younger students. Through BGR, younger students learn the importance of the Boilermaker spirit and older students show off their Boilermaker spirit.


The Boilermaker spirit comes out in its full form through sports on campus. Purdue is a Big Ten school with 18 varsity sports teams, 30 club sports teams, and dozens of intramural teams, so many of the university’s extracurricular programs and traditions center around sports. For example, the Men’s Basketball Student Section is a registered student organization called “The Paint Crew.” The Paint Crew is named after Matt Painter—the current coach of the Boilermakers (it was previously called the Gene Pool when Gene Keady was the coach).

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Simply put, Purdue has a lot of traditions because Purdue has a lot of school spirit. Many of the traditions center around the school’s sports culture, but others are just random and fun, and some are just plain weird. Here are some of the most interesting and prominent traditions on campus:


Fountain Runs


At Boiler Gold Rush, students get initiated into the longstanding Purdue tradition of fountain runs, where students run through all five of the university’s fountains. Some students participate in this tradition with their friends at the end of each finals season, while others bookend their Purdue experience with fountain runs and only participate on their first and last days at the university.


Hello Walk


Purdue has one of the most unique and stereotypically Midwestern traditions you will find on a college campus—the Hello Walk. At both ends of the east-west sidewalk between University Hall and Stewart Center, students will find plaques that say “Smile And Say Hello To Everyone You Meet.” When you walk on the Hello Walk, you are “required” to greet anyone who passes you, leading to an air of positivity and many interesting conversations.


The Boilermaker Special


While many people think Purdue Pete is the mascot of Purdue University, Pete is just the mascot of the bookstore. Purdue’s official mascot, which students take pride in due to its being the largest of all college mascots, is the Boilermaker Special—a multiton Victorian-era locomotive train. The 10,000-pound train travels with Purdue’s football team and was even trailered across the country to the Rose Bowl in 2001. The Boilermaker Special is also often seen around campus!


Old Oaken Bucket


The Old Oaken Bucket is a football trophy that represents the long history of the rivalry between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Purdue Boilermakers. It was introduced in 1925. Each year the winner of the Hoosiers v. Boilermakers football game gets to add a link to a chain that goes around the bucket, shaped like an I or a P depending on the game’s winner. 


Boiler Blackout


Boiler Blackout is when all the sections at a Boilermaker football game wear black so that the stadium is completely covered. This is one way that Purdue students show their support of the football team.


The Breakfast Club


As part of the Breakfast Club tradition, students, alumni, faculty, and family members dress up in wacky costumes and go to Lafayette’s bars early on Saturday mornings before football games. The festivities typically start around 5 in the morning and end around 10 when everyone heads off to tailgates. The Breakfast Club tradition has been around for decades, so the bars are known to be open and many bars even have specific Breakfast Club menus.


Financial Aid


Because Purdue University is a public institution, its costs vary significantly for in-state and out-of-state students, with in-state students paying $9,992 in tuition and out-of-state students paying $28,794. All students can apply for need-based financial aid and merit-based scholarships to shoulder these costs. Additionally, Purdue has a program called Back a Boiler that many students participate in to avoid loans and the high-interest rates that often accompany loans.


ISAs—income share agreements—like Purdue’s Back a Boiler provide students with a set amount of tuition money annually that is paid back as a percentage of their annual income once they graduate and have secured a job. At Purdue specifically, the Back a Boiler program is used to help upperclassmen who have used up their federal allowance for loans. Typically, these students would have to turn to private loans, but through the program, students can turn to ISAs without interest. Check out our blog post for more information on ISAs at Purdue and other universities.


Career Resources


Students agree that one of the best things about Purdue is the resources students have to help them secure jobs and internships. These resources are primarily facilitated by the Purdue Career Center for Opportunities (CCO). Students can access a portal called myCCO that can be used to search for alumni and apply for jobs. Also through CCO, students have access to “Quick Chats” where they can get quick application questions answered and have professional documents reviewed.


The university is highly ranked for the assistance it provides for students hoping to secure jobs. Additionally, Purdue has a strong alumni network that is actively involved in campus life and is helpful when students are trying to decide on their career paths post-graduation.


Is Your “Why Purdue” Essay Strong Enough?


If you are interested in any of Purdue’s outstanding academic programs or the university’s emphasis on school spirit and tradition appeals to you, your essays are the place to show that! They are your opportunity to set yourself apart from other applicants who will likely also have strong profiles. 


The “Why This College” essay is particularly important because it gives you a place to describe how your values and interests align with those of the school you are applying to. The main goal of your supplemental essay is to demonstrate your interest in the university while showing that you would contribute to campus life academically and socially.

To improve your “Why Purdue” essay, you can use our Peer Essay Review tool. With this tool, you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also review the work of other students which can be immensely valuable to improving your writing skills. Peer review will make it easy to see your essay’s strengths and weaknesses so that you can know where to focus your time and energy.


Brooke Elkjer
Blog Writer

Short Bio
Brooke is a film and television production assistant, originally from Dallas, Texas. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in English and Neuroscience from the University of Southern California. At USC, Brooke was a producer for the intersectional feminist production company on campus, a Resident Assistant (RA), and a student worker for the Thematic Option Honors GE Program. In her free time, Brooke enjoys reading, writing, and watching Gilmore Girls.