My Honest Review on RPI

So This is gonna be long because I want to give a really honest and comprehensive review of my experience at RPI. Skip to the bottom if you just want the quick pros and cons.

To start off, I plan to transfer schools. I’m currently a sophomore going into junior year. That probably gives you a good idea of how I feel here. Don’t worry though, I plan on both getting into the good and bad about RPI.

When I first looked at the reviews of the school 2-3 years ago coming up to senior year, I was really hopeful that RPI could be a good fit for me. I was looking for a smaller to medium-sized school with a good background in engineering and lots of research and/or employment opportunities. RPI seemed good. The reviews seemed to make it out to be too. The only thing is it was a little expensive, but we’ll get into that later.

Starting freshman year, I made a lot of friends, started classes and then started to feel the weight of them, like a lot so. As to be expected, RPI, like any recognized engineering school, has hard classes, which is a plus because it makes you have to learn the content and be independent towards your learning. I liked that, for sure; however, I quickly learned that, unlike many schools, RPI doesn’t curve almost any grade or test, meaning average student grades in classes would be around a C (typically even worse for upper-classmen). I even overheard the professor during general chemistry ( freshman level chemistry all engineering students have to take) talking about how the 68% test average as “OK”. Again I thought this was just part of being at an engineering school, that you have low test averages and high expectations. But looking at friends in other schools used to getting grade curves on their exams, I saw RPI as a bit of an outlier and did some research.

RPI comes in the top 5 hardest grade curve schools, meaning unlike Ivy leagues that inflate student grades (Princeton being the only exception), RPI makes getting an ‘A’ very difficult. This hit a lot of freshman hard first semester. They got C’s in classes they thought they did well in and couldn’t handle having A’s like they had in high school. So they stressed out the next semester to try to get the grades they wanted.

That’s another thing about RPI, is there’s a lot of stress, like any college, but at RPI the administration does next to nothing to combat it. The walk bridge that goes over 15th Street is covered in fencing not to keep snow off in the winter but to keep students from jumping off of it. The fencing inside of the staircases in many of RPI’s taller research buildings isn’t there for effect, it keeps students from committing suicide.

And these cons just kept building up:
RPI shut down student protests and took disciplinary action on students that led it.

RPI is currently being federally investigated for violating civil rights like freedom of speech.

RPI’s counseling center is being investigated for negligence on the part of not taking depression or mental/emotional turmoil and sexual assault hearings (this in particular) not as seriously as they should.

RPI’s president, Shirley Ann Jackson, put the school in massive debt by building the new EMPAC building and made the Arch Program so she can bring money back into the school by forcing students to do a mandatory summer semester so they can have a semester in the fall or spring to do an “away semester” where they have an internship with a company.

The newly appointed vice president and dean of students, Travis Apgar, suspended, to the point of nonexistence, 5 fraternities over the course of just Fall 2019 alone over baseless and outright unjustified logic.

The president implemented the Arch without nearly enough discussion with faculty on how it would change the curriculum or housing, as was advised to her by her “The Arch” team before she laid them off and implemented it herself.

Most of the faculty dislike the implementation of The Arch but don’t speak up about it.

Tuition is on par with the top 50 most expensive schools with a total price of around 70k per year. This turns out to be a lot but doesn’t go towards things regarding students, instead it goes mostly into research or directly into the president’s nearly $1 million salary toward her over $7 million base annual pay (based off 2015).

Students discussed with greek life deans over letting them stay in their respective houses over the Arch summer semester, were ultimately denied by Travis Apgar, protested against the Arch, resulting in every faculty member associated with greek life either being fired or leaving.

The employees at Sodexo (RPI’s catering company) are overworked and underpaid.

So with all these cons I’ve come across and experienced the downsides of, I was really tempted to transfer by the end of my freshman year. Looking back on it, I was too passive and didn’t want to risk so much change at once, but I feel that I should’ve acted sooner.
What really broke my trust in RPI’s administration beyond repair was actually recent. When everyone was kicked off campus because of the Corona Virus (that’ll probably be a throwback when people see this, thinking about it now), I was concerned for my housing and if RPI would refund students for the months they weren’t paying for by being back home. I was surprised to find out that RPI had purposedly moved the day classes start again to be just outside a window of refunds stated in fine print in the housing contract students sign. So basically they won’t refund me or anyone their housing money. This was just a downright dirty and unacceptable move, as other universities refunded students. This convinced me to actively look at transferring.

Don’t be like me. Don’t go to a school that doesn’t care about your education or your opportunities. Don’t sacrifice your personal happiness for a college and let them get away with it. And to be honest, because I don’t see RPI changing for the better anytime soon. If you’re ok with being extremely passive and complacent, then only then would I recommend RPI.

You posted this on reddit also months ago. You decided to leave long before CoV19?

You obviously have a beef with this school for whatever reason. Move on. I would appreciate someone else’s opinion. I don’t find yours credible ??‍♀️

Very good friends’ son graduated from RPI last May. Had an amazing time, has great friends, is now working an excellent job. It’s not working for you, but it’s obviously working for most.

As opposed to summerly dismissing OP, I’d be interest to hear people address OP’s issues/concerns.

1 Like

I agree @vhsdad I’ve heard of the free speech issue and concerns about the Arch program before. OP is entitled to the opinion, and everyone should consider it with a grain of salt, just like everyone should consider positive experiences but always with a grain of salt

1 Like

I was going to just let this post just go, but as others have posted …

I read @akimmilanov with interest waiting for the Pros, and really did not see any of significance. Too bad as RPI is a pretty awesome place. + / - 's for sure, but no different than other school.

For now going to just address three of the issues raised.

One, grades. Now I’m surprised the person who started this topic chose so boldly to use their name which is pretty searchable on google. What I found in part was he made the dean’s list ( >3.5 ) 2 of the last three semesters. No question RPI is tough, and you earn your grade. ‘Top 5 hardest’, kudos to you. It is also worth mentioning, and I have no idea how this matches other colleges, but each semester about 1/3 of the students, from all different majors, make the dean’s list (source by semester lists on RPI website). So if those grades are not gifted through curves (they are not), wow, this is a smart student body.

Second issue, the fencing on an overpass is pretty common. Not for reasons stated, but to deter people from tossing stuff at cars and pedestrians below.

Third issue, a partial refund for S20 meal plan and housing. I personally hope they do provide a refund or credit. 1/2 would be fair. There is a good related post on reddit. At any rate, many schools across the nation are working thru this. As a matter of priorities, I understand why this may not be at the top at the moment.

On the topic of grades and curves. While some professors don’t curve, many do. Also, most classes your grade is comprised of a number of elements including quizzes, HWs, projects, attendance, participation, bonus points, lowest test dropped. Yes, the best way to get an A is to kill the exams, but it is not the only way. If you do poorly, or just want to do better, most professors are approachable, TAs can be hit or miss, the tutoring center (just don’t wait too long, because around critical dates it can get busy), and friends. Lastly, read the syllubus, so you understand what goes into your grade.

I’d like an honest answer. If you don’t care about student protests, who runs the Student Union or plan on protesting the continued use of incandescent light bulbs, would RPI be considered a top engineering school? Do you get an excellent education and can you approach the professors, TA’s and tutors for help if needed?

What makes this school a better choice than Stony Brook or RIT for Engineering?

1 Like

@HeHoo, the couple of people I know who went to RPI have done very well for themselves, especially if they took advantage of opportunities offered at RPI. If you “skate through” doing the minimum required (to maintain 3.0 or GPA), then the job prospects wont be as good as if you use the resources available and do things to make yourself marketable.

1 Like