Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Visit Report by morvoren
Visit to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in September 2008 by morvoren(Parent of Student, HS Class of 2008)
(Member since November 19 2008 with 64 posts)
9 of 9 people found this visit report helpful
Information Session: Yes
Campus Tour: Yes
Friendliness/Courtesy of Students:
Friendliness/Courtesy of Staff:
Appearance of Campus:
Campus Visit Notes for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Having looked at sixteen schools, our belief has come to be that what you see in the dining room gives a real clue. The student union at RPI has a dining area, and the minute we went in there we felt an incredible energetic vibe that our son liked; there was a real mix of students, both grads and undergrads, a mix of nationalities, many immigrants. Each table had six plugs so everyone can plug in their computer. The energy in this dining center felt a little like the energy at the cafe at the Stata Center at MIT, but a tiny bit more laid back. Our son really liked the vibe.
This feels like a pretty big school (5000 undergrads, 2000 grads) from our perspective; we have been mostly visitings small LAC's and it seemed challenging with little hand holding. It seemed like you could really concentrate on a passion ( our son's is computer science) but still take a lot of humanitities courses... they require courses in many areas, including humanities.
The dorm situation seems complex; there are many types and some are triples and some are upper bunks and you get assigned. All freshmen live on campus, but only sixty percent of the rest of the students do (that may include grad students). The dorms look packed, people squeezed a bit together. There was a feel of oldness to some of the buildings, the sense that they needed a paint job. The dorm we saw was air conditioned, but it was the new dorm. There were many different eating plans - and the ultimate most expensive one allowed you to go to eating areas that stay open late.
Our tour guide was a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, and was a sort of dour gruff sort - definitely not perky like the young things at most of the liberal arts colleges we have visited. But he gave us a good tour. RPI is 30% greek. We saw some classes;they have an interesting system where you do lab work in the same room as the lecture; it is designed so you turn around and work in a different area. You might have a two hour class, first half is lecture, then lab. Class size average is 42, again much bigger than the LACs, although again it depends on the area of study we were told.
The course catalog is stunning. There are many ways to skin a cat, so for example, you could get a BS in game design with concentrations in comp sci and cog sci. There are many very interdisplicinary programs. Many coop programs. Some 470 companies come to recruit, and many summer internships are possible. But it seems like the kind of place where you have to seek out professors, they arenít just there for you. You do have an advisor, but felt like you were pretty much on your own. Some 20% do change their program or concentration or major after they come. There are research opportunities with professors, but you have to be proactive, but anyone with a 2.0 average can do research. For summer internships, you need a 3.1 were were told. There is also lots of study abroad.
The info session was fairly slick with a video; a lot of emphasis on grades as much more important than SATs. On the other hand, if he is brilliant in his passion, and his essay reflects that they might make allowances. They say that they want you to interview at RPI. it looked like a school where you could get a great technical education, with good job possibiltities, raising the question of whether you want a tech ed so soon.