Rose-Hulman difficulty

My daughter recently attended an admitted student overnight, and was hoping to love Rose-Hulman and making it her final selection. There were things she did like, but was very turned off by the students she talked to, and the student panel. The attitude of the students all seemed depressed and all they emphasized was how hard they work and have no time for anything fun. You can get great test scores and do what the professor asks, and still get a C, and the average GPA is something like 2.8. These aren’t rumors, this is what we heard directly from a number of students. Can anyone give insight on how this differs from other STEM schools (she is down to Rose or WPI), and do you know if the students are truly unhappy and depressed? She doesn’t mind hard work, but working that hard for a 2.8 GPA would be very discouraging, and we wonder if the curriculum is so hard because you are actually learning so much more, or is it just that the teachers are unreasonably tough.

For generations engineering majors have prided themselves on the difficulty of their major.

When I was studying engineering over fifty years ago, some of the faculty labeled this as the “boot camp” approach to education. The two year slog through calculus, physics and chemistry was very demanding. Each school boosted they were tougher than the other. It was a little like hearing the Marines boosting to the Special Forces as they compared notes. Studies were all about traditional lectures, classwork and exams. Yes, the typical GPA was more like 2,4 + on a four point scale.

Practicing engineers and faculty knew the actual profession was different. At the practicing design levels there was the satisfaction of solving real world problems and seeing real results which went beyond a GPA. Throughout our educations, the GPA was all that counted.

This is a big part of why WPI launched project based education in the 1960’s. Now real world solutions become the focal point and not the GPA. They even changed the grading system so students would not be so focused on it.

If you enjoy what you are doing, the long hours and GPA are not the critical part of the process. Projects in three different areas of study become the critical part of the program.

Remember also that Rose Hulman and WPI, et all have almost all straight “A” as they are largely from the top 10% of their HS class. In other words, not everyone is going to receive an “A” even under the old system. WPI makes a serious effort to change this focus while at the same time introducing collaborative team competition which we feel is actually closer to the real world after graduation.

Now all ABET accredited programs require a senior or “capstone” project in their major. WPI’s program follows this same approach in three different focus areas in their effort to shift focus to real answers where the rewards are found.

My daughter is a sophomore chemical engineering major at Rose. She has a 3.7 gpa. She definitely works hard, but she is also actively involved in her sorority, an engineering fraternity and competes in track and field. She finds her professors very accessible and easy to communicate with. Any engineering school will be difficult. The number and quality of the companies at the career fair was impressive. That being said, she does feel as though the “typical college environment” is not really present at Rose. Nothing walkable to campus, including restaurants. If your kiddo is okay with that…it is a great place. The focus is on teaching not research! They come out extremely well prepared. Depends what is important to your daughter!

Sorry!!! Meant to say, she does work REALLY hard! But is able to have a life!

retiredfarmer- Thank you for input. Yes, WPI’s focus is so unique to STEM schools, and it’s a huge appeal for her. Rose is attractive because of the small, close community and very small classes, as well as the Engineering Design major. But you are right, the “boot camp” approach seems to be the theme there.

Schroedawg- Congratulations on your daughter’s high GPA, especially with athletics and other activities! It’s a relief to know that it’s possible! Thank you for sharing her experience. She isn’t concerned about the non-traditional environment there, she is actually looking for an academically focused school. But she was very intimidated by the challenge Rose presents, and it’s just impossible to say how she will handle it once there. The teaching support was very evident though, we were so impressed with the devotion of the staff.

@simplysublime Rose and WPI was also two of my daughter’s top choices. She attended both summer programs, Rose’s Operation Catapult and WPI’s Frontiers. She enjoyed the professors at Frontiers but found the counselors to be more concerned about themselves than insuring an inclusive atmosphere.The WPI counselors did have amazing resumes and seemed to be very active in Greek life and other clubs. When my daughter attended Catapult she also liked the professors but was amazed at how open and friendly the counselors were. They tried to insure that every camper was included in all the activities. My daughter felt that WPI conforms to the typical student and college atmosphere and Rose has a much more distinct vibe. Both schools definitely have great academics and professors that care about the students. I would suggest, if you haven’t already, joining the parents groups on Facebook because it gives a lot of insight into the schools. Engineering is going to be hard no matter where you go and I hope your daughter finds her perfect fit.

My son is a freshman this year. He was salutatorian and National Merit Finalist. He works hard and has a 3.7 GPA at Rose. His first year has exceeded his expectations. He loves the way his RA’s have helped his dorm bond, he does intramural sports, participated in Greatest Floor challenge, Bonfire building, and really likes his advisor. Some professors he likes more than others. I think it is up to the student what kind of experience they have at school. There are many activities to get involved in. But they will also work hard (which they should for the degree). I always like to share this piece of advice to those only concerned about grades. C’s EARN DEGREES TOO

My daughter is a freshman ME at Rose with a 3.5 GPA and loves it there.
I do want to say that if your daughter was turned off by the student body; I would be reluctant as a parent to encourage to attend.
Engineering is not easy and she might as well enjoy her peers. It makes a great difference on your college experience.
Mine was admitted at Olin but got turned off by the student body but absolutely loved her experience at Rose. That’s how she picked.
It also depends which week your daughter visited. Some are real busy and intense.
Rose is hard work but you graduate in 4 years which for an engineering degree is not that common.
The quarter system comes into play as well. You can’t afford to disconnect or get lost too long. 10 weeks of classes and then finals. Help is available and plentiful but they need to seek it.
There are also no shortcuts no matter how good you are. The work required cannot be done in 5mn. There is a lot of work. My daughter loves the hands on and lab experience she’s getting as an ME.
I agree that Rose is stressful yet my daughter loves it. She has time for a part time job at the sport center and avoids doing any homework on Saturdays. Maybe the kids are also very driven. I’m not sure. Rose does a fabulous job at providing lots of activities and support to alleviate the stress. Most kids are physically active.
There is no grade inflation at Rose or extra credit so the GPA can be lower but I thought the average was 3.28 or something for those on campus.

The average GPA on campus fluctuates in the 3.2s each year.

2 Likes