There aren't really cliques on campus; leave that fun in high school. Largely, people hang out with some friends from high school (who also attend Pitt), and their roommates. There isn't much of a racial or socio-economic divide; that really doesn't matter in 2008. Now there are some groups that tend to keep to themselves. The "flamboyant" gay subculture definitely is self-contained; as is the punk/anarchist (in my opinion, dirty-looking) group. But really, no judgment on anyone! Come to Pitt to learn and enjoy yourself. What do most students wear to class? Class is very casual. I've seen a lot of athletic shorts and T-shirts in the spring, and sweatpants/shirts in winter. Yeah, you'll see a few overachievers who want to impress the professors by dressing in business formal every day (it doesn't work!); but for the most part, wear what is comfortable to you. Teachers care a lot more about your class participation than your GQ-ability. Are students politically active? Annoyingly so. I've participated in both the Pitt Republicans and Liberatarians groups; but there's a far, FAR greater number of Pitt Democrats on campus. They are loud, they have pamphlets; and oh, sweet mercy, they are irritating. If there's an African country in peril, they're organizing an event to help. Get used to fliers and pamphlets being shoved at you. If you're a left-winger, you'll fit in great with the majority of the campus. If you're more conservative, you'll definitely find a place, too. I can tell you firsthand that the Pitt Republicans do their jobs well. If you're a Commie, there's a group for you, too. Libertarian? There's a group, but they don't really do anything. (Ron Paul gave a speech in spring 2008, though.) This is a long entry. So what should you take away from all this? The Pitt student body is made of students. It really doesn't have a set definition. You won't find much, if any, discrimination or outright disapproval of who you are. Now, if you're wearing a sundress and heels, but have a beard, you may get some chuckles. But just be you.
Very mixed group of students. Most come from eastern PA. I like the independent feel of being a student at Pitt. With a lot of small schools, it almost feels like you are in high school all over again. Students know how to walk to class by themselves, eat sometimes by themselves and hit the library by themselves. That does not mean everyone does not do things together, it's just that I feel students here can act more independently when needed. In the city itself sometimes there is a feel of more black-white distinct groups. I guess it is not a huge problem, but I can definitely tell which students are from the area and which are not by the way they interact with people from different backgrounds. Fortunately, these people are increasingly becoming in the minority. And maybe, I only notice it because my community is so integrated with people from various cultures that anything slightly different is very noticeable to me. Students have been politically active this past year, but then again I've only been there for one year. The political viewpoints are very center. (Believe me it's my major and I've had plenty of conversations with people on all sides of the table. Most are very reasonable and open to new ideas.)
Pitt is definitely more left wing then right wing. I personally don't agree with left wing politics, but I am still comfortable being a student here at Pitt. There are clubs for everyone no matter what cultural background you identify with or where you're from. For example I am Jewish, so I partake in a community on campus called The Chabad House which is like a home away from home. They serve Friday night dinner to whoever will come share their home for a festive meal, and Saturday lunch. This community is just one of many options depending on what your interests are. Students love to debate political ideas and so much more here on campus. Sometimes it may get heated, but everyone can find someone who has similar beliefs to talk to. There truly is such a mixture of people here that it's beautiful. You have commuters who work, people from out of the country, out of state, and don’t forget about the locals. Pittsburgh is an amazing city with a rare community that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. It is so easy to get comfortable here and find your place.
The student body is pretty diverse. Personally, I feel there is an increase in minority undergraduate admissions. People come from all different backgrounds, and there's usually a student activity group designated to them: Black Action Society, College Dems, GLBT groups, College Republicans, a variety of Asian and Southeast groups, etc. The biggest event of the year (from my point of view) is Student Government Board elections held in December. There's activities going on everywhere. Many of the graduate students and TA's are from other countries, so sometimes they're hard to understand (as English is their second language). Most of the students are pretty smart. A large amount of, if not all, students are in the top 10% of their graduating class and have taken at least one AP or Honors course in high school. Pitt, along with many other nationally ranked institutions, look for well-rounded candidates and not just 4.0 students that didn't do anything else but study.
Pitt students are very accepting of everyone regardless of race, religious, sexual orientation, social status, etc and we are a very diverse school in terms of all of these differences. You will see all kinds of students interacting with each other, and there are always a variety of cultural events held by student organizations on campus, and off campus at various locations to promote diversity and cultural exchange. If diversity and openness is what a student is looking for - Pitt is a school they should seriously consider! People here are very laid back, and its very common to see people walking around in a Pitt sweatshirt and Pitt sweatpants. At the University of Pittsburgh, all of the students, regardless of what makes them unique, all share one thing in common... we are all PROUD to call ourselves a PITT PANTHER!
I think Pitt has an extremely varied student body. You can find students of every race, religion, sexuality, and socioeconomic status. I've met some really interesting people and i've learned a lot from them about race, religion, politics etc. that I could never learn in the classroom setting. I don't think any student could ever feel out of place at Pitt, because there is such a mix of people, no one is the "outcast". The student body is pretty laid back, the uniform is anything from pajamas to business casual in class and there aren't any "cliques" who don't really converse. Sure there is drama between Greek societies, but you'll have that everywhere. Pitt students come from all over, but there are a lot of students from PA, mainly Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, but those who aren't from PA fit in just as well.
The student body is diverse at Pitt, a large majority of the students hail from PA, NJ, OH and WV. Most of the students drink and party regularly. Most of the students smoke. Pitt students are also generally loud. If you're a ditzy sorority girl or a mead-head frat boy you will fit right in. There is an underground culture of hippies and bike-kids that is very very cool, but they're hard to find (particularly if you are a freshman). Moreover, that group really dislikes most of the other people on campus, so they don't try to mix in with the general student body much. Campus is flooded with bums, violent evangelicals that will harass you non-stop, drunks, and working people. It's easy to get lost around campus.
Approximately 70% of the students are from Pennsylvania, but even though I have something in my mind that is a "stereotypical Pennsylvanian," not many of the students fit that stereotype. The largest area represented is probably the city and suburbs around Pittsburgh. However, I'm from New York, and have met people from Texas, California, Alaska, Minnesota, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Flordia. There is also a pretty good number of international students - lots from China and India - especially in graduate programs - but you're also likely to know at least one international student as an undergrad.
It's a big enough school that every class and race etc is represented although it does seem predominately white. I think students coming from other countries might feel the most out of place. Most kids wear regular clothes, jeans and a tee shirt or sweat pants and a hoodie.. the usual. Four tables at the dining hall would have a couple people having lunch who would leave promptly after eating.. no one chills at those places. Students are for the most part politically aware on both sides, smaller subsets take an active role in the community.
For the most part, I think the student body is primarily comprised of Pennsylvanians. There are an increasing number of people from other states. The students also tend to be much more liberal than you would expect. The Rainbow Alliance was very active and there were a lot of political protests (which were for the most part non-violent). Pittsburgh itself is still a somewhat working class city and I think the student body partially reflects that. The setting is very casual and very live and let live.