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Overview of our visit to RIT (Rochester Institute of Tech)

taxguytaxguy Registered User Posts: 6,629 Senior Member
We just had a tour of RIt (Rochester Institute of Technology). Our tour guide majored in New Media Design, which is what my daughter is interested in.

After reading a number of negative comments in Studentreviews.com and finding out that they have some of the lowest 6 year retention rates in the nation ( under 60% graduate within 6 years), I wanted to check out the school for myself.

1. Academics: As one professor noted, RIT is aiming to be the next Carnegie Mellon within 10-20 years. I can definitely see the similarities. RIT has seven schools and an institute for the deaf. They are:

College Abbreviations
CAST - Applied Science & Technology
CCIS - Computing & Information Sciences
CIAS - Imaging Arts & Sciences ( design, photography, printing, and immaging science studies)
CLA - Liberal Arts
COB - Business
COE - Engineering
COS - Science
NTID - Nat'l Technical Institute for the Deaf

There are a lot of deaf students on campus taking courses.

Average SATs are 1210, math 620 and verbal 590. I suspected that if you major in science and engineering, you would need a higher math score. I met a few engineering and computer science kids whose average math SAT were around 650-670. These interviews may not be statistically valid.

Overall, RIT academics is very underrated and underappreciated. They have some top professors. US News and World Reports gave them a 4.1 out of 5.0 in peer reviews. CMU has a 4.3 by the way. Student teacher ratio is around 13:1. This should be contrasted to that of CMU with a 9:1 student teacher ratio.

The school works their kids like dogs. In this way, it is similar to CMU. Make no mistake, these kids are expected to work hard and at a high level. However, that is part of the problem. The students are not quite up to the level ( at least on paper) as their CMU counterparts.

Most students that I met came to RIT because they didn't get admitted to MIT, CMU, Cornell or were give great scholarship money or they lived in the area and didn't want to attend school far away. This is not to say that the student body isn't smart. However, they are a few notches under what is found in the top schools at least in engineering and science.

I should note that design students are very top notch. There is a large number of applications for a relatively small number of spots, making their school of immaging sciences very tough to get into.

RIT also has some interesting majors that you won't find elsewhere such as printing, photographic sciences,New Media Design, New Media Printing etc. They are very tied in to Bausch and Lomb; thus, anything to do with photography is especially strong.

RIT also has a very strong co-op program where you get real world experience and get well paid for this work. Supposedly one-third of the students who particpate in co-op get full-time job offers. This is one factor that clearly distinguishes RIT from other institutions.

AP polciy is also very liberal. Generally, if you get a "3" or more on an exam, you get credit. I don't know if they limit the total number of courses that they will accept AP credit. This should be compared to schools like CMU that requires 4's and 5's for many exams.

There are few doctoral programs offered. Thus, most professors are NOT TAs. 80% of the faculty have terminal degrees ( compared to that of CMU that has 96% with terminal degrees).

Although the work is very hard, I didn't get the impression that it was of the same high level of CMU. I could be wrong on this though. I also didn't see the same amount of interdiciplinary type of work that goes on at CMU.

Like CMU, RIT is very wired. There are a huge number of computer labs and wireless spots available on campus.
I should note that one big distinction is that RIT does NOT have a drama department.

Overall adademically I would give them a B+

2. Campus: The campus is huge. It is much bigger than that of CMU ( and they have double the students too). I thought it was pretty. However, almost every building consists of red brick, and I do mean almost every building. They don't believe in diversity of architecture. However, there are nice big green grassy area for the kids to play sports and sit and study ( when the weather allows, which is rare).
They also have tunnels that go from the dorms to various buildings, which was very interestingly planned. Moreover, they have a new building that houses a great indoor running track, new workout facilities and swimming pool.

I should note that the maintenance on the facilites was immaculate. There was no garbage, graffiti, or dirt found anywhere. They must have little gremlins cleaning up at night. The bathrooms were also nice and clean; however, I missed the little scented devices that I found at CMU.

There has been a number of complaints that there just isn't anything to do in RIT other than study. RIT is taking this complaint seriously and is working on building a town for students which will consist of shopping, restaurants, fun area etc. This should be very exciting when finished, if it is ever finished.

Overall, I would currewntly give the Campus a C+ to a B-

3.Parking: Although parking is limited as with other schools, it was a lot better than what I found at Drexel and CMU. Since most kids live on Campus, they don't need cars. I would give RIT a "C" to "C+" in parking.

4.Dorms: Sadly, I didn't get to see any dorms due to security. However, based on speaking with students, they are nice, large and get cleaned daily. RIT does have appartments and lots of room for more housing. A number of dorms and new and modern. From what I can ascertain, I would give them a solid "B" in dorms

5. Food: WE at on campus, and all of us liked the food. It was varied and reasonably well cooked. They had a nice salid bar too. Overall, I would give them a "B" in food.

6. Problems: With all these good things, why do they have such dissatisfaction among students and comments. As far as I can tell there are three main problems:

First,is the weather. AS one student noted, "Immagine how cold you think Rochester is and subtract 25 degrees." It is very cold and blustery most of the year. Although, the school is very good at snow removal, this doesn't detract from the blistery cold students experience going to class.

Second, There is no school spirit. At least in Syracuse, there are great sports teams and lots of things to do. Here, sports are limited due to the weather and, since it is so cold, no one wants to leave their dorms.

Third: This may be the clincher: RIT is a very hard school. Students are expected to work hard. Moreover, there is very little outlet for release. For example, the male-female ration is 70%-30%,with most females in the school of design. This means that in most science or engineering classes, it is more like 10:1 (male to female). Thus, social life is not that great. Moreover, RIT is VERY strict as to drinking. They have a complete no drinking policy on campus at any of its facilities, dorms or apartments. Personally, I like this policy,but many students don't.

7. Tuition: Here there is a big surprise. RIT tuition is just under $22,000 per year. Moreover, room and board are also relatively cheap at about $8,000. From a pricing perspective, this school is a deal for a private school.

Overall impressions: This is one of those schools that are hard to define. They have good science and good art and design. Whether it is up to the level of a CMU is hard to evaluate. However, there is clearly a lack of things to do other than work and have LAN parties. RIT is attempting to add more facilities for students' enjoyment. Thus, if you want very good academics, great co-op experience at a very good price, this may well be the school for your kids. I really do believe that they will get better and might well acheive the goal espoused by a professor: equal in quality that of CMU! Frankly, I didn't feel that they were that far away at least academically.

Obviously, my impressions may differ from yours. You should check out the school.
Post edited by taxguy on

Replies to: Overview of our visit to RIT (Rochester Institute of Tech)

  • taxguytaxguy Registered User Posts: 6,629 Senior Member
    If anyone has any further imput, please post. We would love to keep this thread updated.
  • JeldaJelda Registered User Posts: 175 Junior Member
    what about international students? admission chances for int'ls?
  • taxguytaxguy Registered User Posts: 6,629 Senior Member
    Jelda, You would have to ask RIT;however, since RIT is a private school, I would think that they want international students.
  • orion27orion27 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    I'm a second year Applied Networking/Systems Administration (IT-GCCIS) student at RIT, and I figured I'd respond to some of the comments in this thread.

    -Every year RIT's averages for SATs and high school ranks increase. In case you are wondering, I received a 650 verbal/670 math and had a high school GPA of 4.0, ranked in the top 10% of my school. I applied to RIT and no other schools. These scores earned me the second highest Presidential scholarship (there are 8 levels) but not a place in RIT's honor program. I was accepted to that after my first year with a 3.85 GPA, 4.0 PFOS GPA. Enough about scores. RIT seems pretty flexible with admissions. If you are passionate about your major and career goals, lower than average scores won't kill you. RIT is not interested in students who have no goals. The coop system pretty much requires you to begin work in your major right away so you will be ready. The only exception I've seen is the undeclared engineering program, but even that requires a decision fairly early in the program.

    -The quarter system forces students to work consistently throughout the quarter. It is easy to fall behind in a class when it is condensed into ten weeks. I believe this is one of the main reasons for low retention (second only to the cold).

    -4-5s are required on many of the APs. 3s in sciences, for example, usually won't count. Expect 5 requirements for in-major APs and even then you often have to take a different class, instead of a free slot. (For example, in IT, a passing AP Computer Science test allows you to take Java for Programmers instead of Java Programming.)

    -RIT has some of the best facilities around. Our computer labs are current and numerous. Software is usually current or one version old. Hardware is updated every few years. Aside from some basic hardware computer courses where freshman tear down and rebuild machines on a daily basis, I have never sat down at an RIT provided PC and thought it unreasonably old.

    -For a large school, RIT has very small classes with kind and friendly professors. The largest class I have ever been in was 60 people. Typically classes start with no more than 30 and by the second or third week they stabilize around 22. I have never had a professor who purposely tried to fail students; most are quite accommodating. The college of computing professors seem especially nice.

    -Dorms, like all other facilities, are cleaned on weekdays. Sundays can prove a bit messy, especially when salt and snow is tracked in.

    -There is a large international population at RIT. My roommate was from India and he recently met someone from the same block of his small hometown here as well.

    -Parking is much better than it seems. While students might disagree on colder days, there are plenty of lots around campus. Freshman are allowed to bring cars. The campus is small enough that you could walk to any building from any other within 20 minutes (except the astronomy lab, that would take about 30 from the other side). On colder days the furthest apartments are unpleasantly far, but busses run regularly and are commissioned from the Rochester metro system. There are routes to the mall as well as between buildings. There are two routes on campus: clockwise and counter clockwise. This ensures you never have to travel more than 50% around campus. Parking passes are free, but the lazy can pay about $25 per year to get special passes to park in the closest lots. These special passes go quick and are held for off campus students, mostly.

    -The drinking policy is not as you say. RIT is the most liquid "dry campus" I know of. Any on-campus apartment (RIT has many, many on-campus apartments) with all residents over the age of 21 can have alcohol in them as long as it isn't in bulk containers. Alcohol is banned in the dorms no matter the age of the residents. This applies to the frat houses on the dorm side, but not the new ones on the academic side (as far as I know; I try to avoid frats, so I don't know all of their rules). Also, there is a bar in the RIT Ritz, an eatery in the basement of the SAU. Budweiser trucks are not uncommon.

    -The social life is the biggest drawback. The National Science Foundation recently sponsored a grant to determine why IT in particular has no female students. For IT students (the largest major on campus) 10:1 is common, if not optimistic. Also, Rochester is no NYC or DC. There aren't too many places I'd care to visit in the city. Our over 100 clubs help, but membership falls during the Winter quarter for most clubs, skiing and snowboarding groups excluded.

    I guess that's all for now. Let me know if you have questions. I'll try to remember to check this board.

    *Note: all opinions expressed above are from my own personal experiences and do not reflect the opinion of RIT. I am not employed by the RIT admission office and do not speak for the school.
  • taxguytaxguy Registered User Posts: 6,629 Senior Member
    Specifically, how do kids in the art and design program like the program? How do you personally like the cafeteria food? I also have to admit that walking 20 minutes in fridid conidtions does 't sound too appealing. If you look on the student review forums, there are a significantly disenchanted number of kids. This is reinforced by RIT's attition. It cant be the cold, since near by Syracuse doesn't have the same attrition. What in your options is causing this?
  • orion27orion27 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    I don't know anyone in the art program. After about half a year the food gets repetitive. I usually didn't eat on weekends during my 3rd quarter last year. This year I have an apartment so I cook for myself mostly. Now eating in the cafeterias a few times a week is enjoyable. Also, eating anywhere besides Gracies (the dorm cafeteria) is better. I will never step foot in Gracies again. I think many students come here and think it will be easier than it is. For example, I met a transfer student from a semester school who got As there taking 16 credits. She came here and had trouble passing more than 8 credits in the quarter system. In one quarter (10 weeks) we often cover as much as a semester course. The pace is very quick, but deceptive. It seems like you have a weekend with no work but then you realize it's only a week until midterms. Also the lack of activities is depressing to some. Computer majors really like the high speed internet connection and don't get out much. This leads to some failing classes because they spend too much time online. The non tech-majors don't care so much about the internet and become saddened by a real lack of activities. This leads to drop outs in both groups. Finally, the lack of females is enough to make many guys want to leave. I doubt I’ll have a girlfriend during my four years here.
  • JeldaJelda Registered User Posts: 175 Junior Member
    the admission department is stuck in the middle of my application.
    they sent me an email saying that they want "Disciplinary/conduct information."
    what the heck is that?!?
  • weenieweenie Registered User Posts: 5,793 Senior Member
    I can't figure out why RIT has that quarter system. It seems really annoying. The students have work to do over Christmas!

    Jelda: DId your guidance office fill out their recommendation form and send it in? I know nothing about RIT's application, but for instance, on the Common App there is a page for guidance to fill out and (if I recall correctly) there is a section on there that says you've never been expelled etc. Maybe that is what they are talking about?
  • orion27orion27 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    The main reason for quarters is coop. All RIT students are required to coop, for IT you need 3 quarters worth. Also, even though it is not fun working over Christmas, there are advantages. For example, if you get stuck in a required course that you dislike, or you aren't happy with a professor, you know it will be over fairly soon. Also, we have no work and a longer break than other schools at Thanksgiving.

    I can't say what the information they want is, Jelda, but you should call the admissions office. They will tell you exactly what you need.
  • walkinghomewalkinghome Registered User Posts: 7,722 Senior Member
    I have a friend who's daughter is a sophomore at RIT in the industrial design program. The reason I looked in on this thread is because my junior son and I are thinking of going up with friend and her husband to RIT this weekend. The daughter loves RIT. I've heard her say a few times what a nerdy school it is but she loves the atmosphere and how drinking is not the number one weekend activity - she says that's computer games.
  • jerzgrlmomjerzgrlmom Registered User Posts: 1,245 Senior Member
    My daughter was told by the graphic design dept that they don't recommend coops for their students, because they interfere with some required classes. Students don't take classes while doing a coop. Some classes run in a series so if one if missed, for a spring coop, the student might have to wait until spring of the following year for that class to be offered again. Instead, most students do internships, that are less time consuming and are done while still taking classes or over the summer. The student may receive credit and possibly pay like the coop.
  • JeldaJelda Registered User Posts: 175 Junior Member
    Thanks, my college advisor sent an e-mail to the admission department, coz she also couldn't find the form. hope it works.. :)
  • jerzgrlmomjerzgrlmom Registered User Posts: 1,245 Senior Member
    My daughter's myRIT screen said she needed that disciplinary form. The next day she received a copy of the supplemental form (Common App part 2) in the mail. It asks those questions, like have you ever been suspended/expelled or committed a crime, etc. She filled it out and mailed it in. She had already submitted this form online (at the same time she submitted the Common App Part 1), but figured they lost it or hadn't posted it yet.
  • taxguytaxguy Registered User Posts: 6,629 Senior Member
    Bump for those that missed this.
  • yamalbertyamalbert Registered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
    Thanks for the information. I have been searching for a non-college-mail overview of the school, from a persepctive near my own, and this thread answered most of my questions.

    However, I am mostly concerned about student life. I come from the north (although I currently live in Texas :-) ) but I like the cold and love to ski. However, unlike my peers, I will be pursuing a computer engineering major, yet I really hate spending more than an hour "doing nothing" on my computer. Browsing around, playing games, etc. is not my cup of tea. It sounds like, due to the weather, that the school consists primarily of males on computers the majority of the time, when not in class or at work. Is this the case? Also, what kind of student arranged activities would you say are most common (poker, etc.)?

    Thanks for the information!

    Also, what is the structure for the Presidential Scholarships? I received one for $8,000.00 a year, and would like to know what tier that is.
This discussion has been closed.