RPI vs Stony Brook?

Uh, first off, can I even switch the school I committed to now that May 1 has past? I know that I can switch schools if I can get off the waitlist somewhere, but I haven’t it’s just that some unforeseen development has just occurred.
To preface, I recently committed to stony brook for Computer Engineering because of the cheap price, and the fact that I got into the scholars program.
I also got into RPI, but it was a non-consideration because it was still more expensive than Stonybrook and I heard some pretty bad stuff about it.
Well, at first, my cost of attendance there was around 40k, which was way too high. But, my fin aid appeal went through for another 8.5k a year bringing it down to 32k-ish a year. I thought that was still too expensive esp for a school like RPI so I just crossed it out. Well, like five minutes ago they adjusted my financial aid AGAIN, and they are now offering me an additional 10k a year, bringing the cost down to 22k a year and 20k a year if I choose to do work-study. It’s cheaper than stony brook…
Assuming I can still switch my college if I really wanted to, should I even? The social atmosphere at RPI apparently can be really toxic at times, and everyone pretty much agrees that the administration is horrible. What I’m mainly looking for in college right now is a place that can provide me with the opportunities to either make myself a strong candidate for grad school or in the job market down the line, so if I can get those same opportunities (or close to) with a better social atmosphere and more diverse student body at stony, I would probably do it.
But RPI is literally so cheap to attend at this point…

You will walk in expecting bad things so stay where you are.

Also those scholarships typically require you to keep a certain GPA. Depending on the study 35-60% of STEM students change their major. SB will give you more flexibility if that were to happen.

The fact that RPI continues to shovel money your way is a worrisome sign.

Stick with SB, a really good school.

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Are you a girl?
That would explain why they increased your merit aid.

RPI is a very strong STEM school that is both very respected in the tech world and for graduate school.

SB’s administration is also notorious so I wouldn’t pick based on that factor.

Mostly you need to decide if you’d rather attend a university that mostly empties out at night or on weekends, has an excellent reputation for science, has public-university resources and diversity, OR a prestigious Tech school that’s residential, work hard/play hard, has private school amenities and resources, fewer girls, high rigor, high placement/salaries.

You know yourself: can you tough it out in a stressful/high rigor environment that includes support and provides excellent outcomes?
If you attended RPi and disliked it, would you be able to transferto SB and would SB be affordable?

Email RPI to learn about the support services, walk in tutoring, class sizes, etc. To see if it’d be livable for you.

Legally, yes, you can. Colleges created a loophole in 2019 that allows them to “poach” candidates they really want even after May 1st. So, you’d legally be allowed to switch.


Where have you heard that the social environment at RPI is toxic? I know people who’ve gone there, have had a great experience, and who’ve done really well with their careers so far. It has an excellent reputation. Why so negative about it?

There’s just a lot of commentary circulating around the internet (CC, Reddit, YouTube) about how terrible the administration is, how the Arch is terrible, how the social life is not great. It definitely gave my son pause. It’s too bad, especially if it’s a small subset of disgruntled people posting these comments.

There are a number of threads on CC that have discussed the environment at RPI, and unhappiness with the Arch program and admin, so doesn’t seem like isolated feedback.

Only you and your S can decide if RPI’s environment is a good fit, even with its shortcomings. No school is perfect, it’s just a matter of finding the best fit within that construct. And money is part of fit too. Good luck with the decision!

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Just so the thread isn’t derailed: OP was admitted to Computer Engineering, not Arch, if I understand correctly (so while unhappiness with the administration would encompass all majors, specifics wrt the Arch program wouldn’t apply to OP).
@deathhater9 : can you specify?


The arch program is so hated because it’s mandatory for all students. You basically stay on campus the summer of ur junior year to take courses and then go off to do an internship/co op for your fall semester. Didnt sound so bad until I heard that the summer courses were needlessly difficult because of the condensed time period they need to be taught in and the fact that a large chunk of ppl couldn’t even find a job opp during their fall semester.

I’m also a dude lul.

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My apologies. :frowning:
Okay, then that’s a big deal indeed.
I didn’t realize it was mandatory for all… and so bad! I thought it was like the co-op system at Northeastern. :frowning:
(Doesn’t change the fact it’s well respected, etc, etc)

Are you leaning toward one or the other?

RPI is a much, much better school than Stony Brook. The educational and networking opportunities it offers are far superior. The student body at RPI has an intellectual mindset. Stony Brook still admits masses of middle-of-the-road Long Island kids who are not interested in intellectual stimulation and bring nothing much to the table (sorry of this offends but it is the truth and OP should be made aware). The fact that the school still serves a very large local population of commuter and suitcase students really brings down the quality and tone of the facility. Also, neither campus is a knockout in terms of appearance but at least RPI does not look like a prison block, which SB does. As far as the administration goes, yes, the current management of RPI is horrendous, but likely to be replaced in 2022, which is a very good thing for incoming students. Also yes to stress level at RPI: it’s higher than that of Stony Brook because it’s a far more rigorous institution, which is also why it’s a better institution and its graduates fare very well in the job market. As for Reddit, any top school, especially a top STEM school, has more than its share of naysayers. Don’t let those people drive your decisions.


Do you have sources for these statements?

If we r talking purely about which school I’d see myself happier in, it’s 100% stony brook. I have more friends going there, the student body is more diverse, and the scholars program is kind of a nice addition. I’ve heard that RPI’s academics are going down and down which is why I decided not to commit the first time around, but now that they’ve made their tuition so low (around 5k cheaper than stony) I’ve been wondering if even wit all the downsides it might still be ok? Like even if academics are going down they started at a really high point in the first place, and I’ve heard from others that I could salvage a social life if I tried hard enough. I guess the decision here is would I be willing to potentially have to tough it out for four years to save 20k. I don’t know how SBU compares to RPI in terms of engineering as of right now since RPI has been going down for quite some time now and stony seems to be rising in overall reputation.

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Is it need based fin aid or merit based fin aid? RPI CoA is ~ $80K. So, if you are getting $60K off to go to private college, it looks like a very good deal. From very little I know, RPI is strong STEM school. Not sure about SB.

I noticed that the contract of the current president runs out in 2022, that she’s 74 years old, and that the Board is currently in receipt of a study committee report for renewal of the university.
Putting these facts all together, I expect that we’ll see the president giving notice of her intent to retire at the end of her contract, that we’ll see the formation of a search committee to find a new president, and that the new president will be hired with the mandate to implement the recommendations of the committee for reform.

These could be exciting times at RPI.


I have no idea what “academics are going down” means or what meaningful source of information there would be for that.

What I have read, which is of concern to the Board of Trustees, is that revenue for research has been going down (although there seem to be some recent indicators of resurgence). This has little relevance to your experience of good academics or quality of instruction.

This is an institutional problem for the long term if it isn’t resolved. But “Renew Rensselaer” is a plan to do precisely this kind of renewal. All institutions have their ups and downs. Despite having an endowment of $ 3/4 billion, the RPI Board is worried. Good. That’s what they’re supposed to do.

Stony Brook is where you think you’ll be happier. If happiness is your short term goal, then SB is obviously where you should be. RPI is being offered to you at a bargain price as a different way to prepare you for the rest of your life. College is not a destination, it’s a means to get you to the rest of your life. Your choice.

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I think it’s need? The extra aid they r throwing at me is called an “access grant” whatever that means. SB and RPI are both strong-ish stem schools, I think RPI is a little more well known mostly because it is much older than stony.

The US news rankings have been dropping consistently for the last couple of years, the school isn’t even in the top 50 anymore. If I am trying to give myself a good chance to get into grad school, research experience is a big part of that and something that should be considered no?

Given what you’ve heard about the Arch program, it would seem that your concerns are legitimate. Is what you’ve heard rumor, someone’s isolated experience, or substantive facts. It sounds to me like you have good reason to make a call to Admissions and to expect some good answers backed by solid information. At a minimum Admissions should put you in touch with someone in a position to answer your questions and perhaps some students who can tell you about their experiences and those of their friends. Best of luck with your decision.

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Yes, research should be a consideration. But the kind of revenue producing research that the Board is concerned with has little to do with research opportunities for undergrads.

US News rankings are meaningless as indicators of the quality of teaching and learning. Read the description of their methodology. Look at what the rankings are based on. Furthermore, US News changed the formula for their rankings a few years ago because they wanted to emphasize different things. RPIs drop could simply be a result of this different emphasis. RPI isn’t the only one that dropped as a result. Which was the better formula and therefore the better ranking? That’s open for debate.

But even to the extent that anyone want use US News, RPI is still raked #53 among national universities vs SB at #88 and RPI is #32 among universities with engineering vs SB at 69. So if their ranking is a negative for RPI, what does it say about SB?

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You would likely experience less stress and a more carefree attitude at Stony Brook. That is not to say that you would be deprived of rewarding and enjoyable experiences at RPI. You would make friends at RPI and join clubs or play sports, depending on the way you prefer to spend your leisure time. You’d likely venture into the nearby places that offer exquisitely beautiful scenery and outdoor activities, if that’s what you’re into. I imagine there would be some travel to NYC too, which is quite accessible via Amtrak (do not be fooled into thinking that NYC is a mere hop away from the Stony Brook campus because it’s not).

You repeatedly mention RPI’s declining US News ratings. From what I know, these are attributed largely to decreased alumni funding and increased acceptance rates. The latter may be attributed to cash grabbing, which has been a problem at RPI and is one reason the current, vastly overpayed administration needs to leave. But it is leaving, and soon. The alumni are extremely loyal to current students and new graduates and the institution itself; a large number of them have stopped donating because of concerns about the administration. The alumni continue to support and recruit students and grads for internships and employment. RPI is still extremely strong in terms of salaries and hiring opportunities for new graduates. I would much rather have an RPI degree in my hand four years from now than one from Stony Brook. There is no question in my mind about this.