RPI vs. Virginia Tech Honors

Hi, I am currently deciding between RPI and Virginia Tech Honors. I am majoring in CS, and the cost for each is roughly the same. I have such a hard time comparing colleges, but at the moment, I am leaning towards RPI. I live near Boston. Where do you think I should go and why? Your opinions are greatly appreciated!


I think it’s a silly question. Both are great schools.

Do you want a mid size school within access of home…without huge sports except hockey…in distance of small city life with a campus that I’ve not been too or Niche rates a C.

Or do you want a huge school, big time sports, in the middle of nowhere (although a nearby secondary airport in Roanoke) - a school that is more than STEM - Va Tech has most everything - in an unbelievably gorgeous campus.

That’s what you need to decide since money isn’t a factor.

1 Like

You’d probably be happier at VT, but I am guessing RPI will beat you up more,
and if you can handle it - will educate you better…
Also where do you want to live after graduation?

1 Like

My prefernce would be near Boston, although I have not though about that too much.

I think it’s a close call.

I do think you’ll be happier at VT, but also VT isn’t a direct-admit, so you’d
still have to get into CS - check on that!!!

RPI is closer, a great school … probably with an edge with jobs prospects, especially
taking ultimate location in mind.

Congrats on acceptances at both. Excellent schools/programs but so, so different! RPI has a very STEM-heavy environment, a campus in a small, somewhat depressed town with no college-town feel, a small campus, and a northern climate; VT is in a small (but not depressed) town brimming with VT Hokie spirit. The VT campus is so huge and much nicer then RPI’s, and the climate is better too. Both are close to beautiful, natural mountainous areas in close proximity to outdoor activities. Although VT is of course a tech school, it’s not loaded with STEM-heavy feel in the way RPI is. For instance, you are more likely to find the quintessential genius CS nerd who doesn’t shower for weeks at a time at RPI (and I don’t mean that in a bad way). RPI has very limited sports spirit, while VT lives for football and basketball and has teams that excel at both. I would give a slight nod to quality of instruction at RPI, as it carried the banner of premier CS/engineering instruction for decades before encountering problems with its current administration (which is probably on the way out in 2022 and that bodes very well for the school). The quality of instruction is still top-notch at RPI. VT is already quite good though, and rising in quality every year as it gets harder and harder to get in, and things like instruction, facilities, and peer standards fall in line. VT Honors is a big deal. Both schools have dedicated alumni bases that are loyal to current students and grads when it comes to employment connections. Hokies are rabidly loyal to Hokies and there are a great many of them out there, especially in the VA/DC area. I think your personality and area of study factor very heavily into this decision. Are you very social? Do you like being on a large, vibrant campus with endless varieties of activities at your disposal? Are college sports important to you? Is warmer weather important to you? If so, I would probably go to VT. On the other hand, if you are a hard-core brainiac nerd who lives to be with gamers, loves to talk about the mysteries of physics, doesn’t care much about sports, prefers cooler weather and a small campus, I would probably go to RPI. It this was me, I think I would be happier at VT (especially in Honors!), and I would be confident that the school’s very solid reputation and enormously loyal alumni base would ensure a good shot at quality employment. You need to understand how different these schools are. Again, congrats!


Oh and about the food… if it matters, VT usually ranks #2 in the US for college food quality (after the Culinary Institute), but the food at RPI is known to be pretty bad. This should not factor too heavily into your decision, but I forgot to add it to my previous post and I wanted to.

I agree with the other posters who stated that RPI is the place to be if you seek a hard-core, difficult curriculum that will prepare you well for a CS career, and you attach little importance to other things like campus feel, sports, nearby town, etc., while being immersed in an environment with like-minded, ultra-techy people.

1 Like

have you looked at WPI at all (I guess it’s a moot point, but I wonder if not, why?)

1 Like

I can’t speak about VA Tech, but RPI is out in the middle nowhere, which means getting to and fro is a bit of a pain.

Thank you! If the only difference was the school size, I would prefer a small to medium sized school. But knew when I applied that the quality of life at RPI does have some for improvement. I am able to adapt to different situations, so what type of school I go to is not as big a factor as it may be for other people. So for me the most important factor is the job prospects I will get after college. However, it is good to know that you think very highly of VT’s campus life and Honors programs. This, and the fact that both schools have comparable programs makes VT seem like a really, really, good choice.

At the moment I think I am still leaning RPI, but your response has been very helpful!

I was deferred from WPI. Hopefully I can still get it.

RPI easier to get to from outskirts of Boston … VT you have to fly

I would definitely not say RPI is in the middle of nowhere. I think that statement applies much more strongly to VT. RPI’s campus is in a small, unattractive, economically depressed town but it is also literally minutes from Albany, which is the capital of New York State and has a population of 100,000. A major city it is not, but it does qualify as a bona-fide city. Additionally, the Rensselaer Amtrak station is about 5 minutes from the campus, and this has frequent trains to New York City throughout the day. The ride is about 2 1/2 hours right into Penn Station (midtown Manhattan)

1 Like

Well I guess that depends on your tolerance for long car rides. I live outside of Boston and the one time I visited VT we drove.

To me these schools are so different that one has to appeal to you more than the other. If I had the choice I would chose VT, but that’s me. Which do you like better?

yikes … I’m dead beyond 6 hrs

RPI appears to have world-level status in some areas of computing, such as through its new supercomputer:


RPI is not in the middle of nowhere like say Cornell is, I’ve been to both colleges, RPI is about a half hour from Albany, the state capital. I know a few kids that went to RPI since I went to hs in upstate NY, and for CS opportunities in Boston, it’s the better choice. It’s also much smaller than VT, but it does have a tough curriculum, at least back in the day (early 80s) when I was in hs.

Many students from the Northeast use Amtrak to get to VT. It is a long journey from Boston, but there is an Amtrak route between the two.

VT also is thirty miles away from Roanoke also a city of 100,000.

Not too many kids go there though that I’ve heard of, except to catch flights or trains.

VT does not offer on campus housing after freshman year, which might be a concern for some. There is lots of affordable off campus housing available.

RPI is fairly close to where I live and is frequently in the local news with various issues running the gamut from Shirley Jackson’s actions, class action lawsuits filed by students, sexual misconduct, and layoffs/furloughs/faculty contracts. I know some current and former employees as well as current and former students and people generally seem unhappy. They feel the administration fails to deliver on its promises and makes a lot of decisions that just benefit the school’s finances. Pay close attention to ARCH and ask questions about housing and food availability during the summer.