RPI vs. WPI

Good evening! I am looking for some meaningful feedback in comparing WPI vs. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. My son has received some good merit money from both. We have done an admitted day at RPI and will soon be attending one for WPI. Thank you for your input.

My son was also accepted to both with good money, but didn’t attend either (BS/MS Cal Poly 2019). He strongly preferred one over the other though. What does your son’s gut say? Did he find students happier at one or the other? Like the facilities of one versus the other?

Search this site for the ARCH program. While WPI has a strong “coop” program (although that’s not what they call it), it seems like RPI is struggling with theirs. I think if you visit both you will get a sense of which you prefer.

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They have such different vibes for what looks like similar colleges on paper.

Locations have pros and cons depending on interests. Neighbors around campuses are kind of similar.

My kids did not end up at either, but both RPI and WPI were in the running.

WPI has some distinct strengths from other colleges if looking for a college with a focus on undergrad instructional strategies. Their commitment to project based learning is unparalleled at the college level. They want to have graduates ready to be in the workforce having positive impacts and able to collaborate effectively.

RPI is strong for certain majors like CS, but there was not the joy in the students like we saw at WPI.

WPI has projects to join for an international experience built into the degree program that you get a scholarship to cover. RPI has a semester away program with various options.

You also have semesters at RPI v quarters at WPI.

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In some areas of technology, RPI reaches world-level status, such as through its relatively new supercomputer. This could be inspiring for a student who has interests along these lines.

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Despite years of mismanagement, RPI still has the industry cred, greater rigor, networking and the stronger name, IMO. It’s also (finally) got a new president, which is generating much enthusiasm. WPI probably has happier students overall and is rising quickly, but RPI is an institution.

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Had a really good visit during admitted student day at RPI. They put on a really compelling tour vis a vis potential earnings with a computer science degree. I think our visit to WPI might bring some clarity as well. It is certainly up in the air. My son is playing his cards really close to the vest. WPI is 20 minutes away and RPI is only 2 hours away…

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I read somewhere a couple years ago that RPI was in a huge financial trouble.

Look at the schedule….length of classes.

If you are referencing WPI, their whole schedule looks different. They are on quarters taking fewer courses at any one time, but digging a little deeper. They are also project based and working on the projects in the classes, so the structure is just different. It is not hours of straight lecture.

I’m simply noting to look at the schedules of the two schools.

Yes - RPI is Semester and WPI on quarters - although shorter than normal.

Just noting it’s a major difference one should note as OP asked for feedback on the two schools.

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Got it, I thought you were looking at the day to day, not the calendar. WPI is 2 quarters in the fall and 2 quarters in spring. They also have summer courses.

I agree that WPI is different- others on the quarter system, use Hockey quarters (3) plus optional summer. And then there is Dartmouth…but that is not up for debate here :slight_smile:

My son also got in to both RPI and WPI, and got better merit aid from RPI. Nevertheless, he’s decided to decline RPI whereas WPI is still in the running. For him it really was just the campus vibe. Despite the fact that we visited on a beautiful sunny late summer/early fall day, he just found the campus depressing. This is, of course, a really personal view of things and not remotely objective, but he said to me “I just can’t see myself being happy here”. Ok then. Off the list.

That was exactly my son’s impression too. He was a Rensselaer Medalist too. Every student we chatted with said they were there for the money, and they didn’t seem particularly happy. The schools that made the final cut were all ones where the happiness was palpable on campus. WPI was certainly one of them.

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Thank you for your feedback!! Best of luck!!