Those with kids at WPI - Pros and Cons please

My kid is extremely happy there. Perfect fit for her. Workload is rigorous and with the quarter calendar, the pace is rather quick… so there’s an intense amount of work. Midterms are after the third week of classes. Super friendly campus. Feels like a liberal arts school in many ways… it was the one tech university that felt that way to us. So much collaboration and teamwork in just about every class. The only con (from my perspective) is that the student body has less diversity than many other schools.

My son is a current student. He really likes it there.
•WPI PLAN. If you have not read about it, go check it out!
*7week terms
*Freedom and responsibility
*NR policy
*Theory and practice
*GPS to jumpstart problem solving skills
*Humanities and arts to better understand the world
*IQP - Life changing project

•Accepted directly into your major with the flexibility to change majors by sophomore year.

•Collaborative environment - my son has always found help (peers, professors, counselors) when needed. The project based learning element of the program instills the collaborative environment and teaches them to learn how to learn (both academic and interpersonal skills).

•Goldilocks size. Not too small not too big. When my son was searching for schools, we looked at technical schools that were much smaller, and almost felt like the extension of high school. He did not want a huge school either where he might feel lost. WPI is the right size for him. Campus is compact and walkable. Student body is large enough to find plenty of options of things to do, and different groups with different interests.

•Male to female ratio is one of the best, if not THE best in a technical school. WPI has worked hard to attract talented women and their efforts are paying off. In past two years, women represent 42% of the incoming class.

•Some are concerned about housing accommodations. My son is in a double room in a suite living space of 6 (2 doubles and 2 singles). I find his room spacious and he is really enjoying it there, but I understand that there are some other housing accommodations that are not as spacious.

•7 week quarters is a blessing and a curse. Combined with the rigorous curriculum, it makes for 7 intensive weeks each quarter. It is really fast passed, and they need to use their time wisely. It also means that they are only looking at 3 courses at a time and when they have breaks (fall, Christmas and spring) they don’t have to worry about class work.

•We live in the Midwest, so my son is 13 hours away by car. Luckily, American Airlines has a flight from Worcester (regional airport) to Pittsburgh twice a day. He can get connecting flights to Cincinnati, which makes it great because he does not need to go to Boston to make it home. We found that this year Delta will start direct service from Worcester to Cleveland, which will give him more connecting choices.

More specific to my child:
The flexibility of the freedom/responsibility part of the WPI PLAN made it possible for him to take Organic Chemistry I,II and III freshman year. He had taken Organic Chemistry (college level but no credit because there is no AP) and did not want to wait a full year to revisit the material. He consulted with his professor, and they both decided it was a good idea to move forward with the idea. He did great in the first 2 classes, and is finishing the third in about 2 weeks. He was only able to do this because: a) there are no prerequisites for the classes (only suggested background) and b) WPI encourages risk taking with their NR policy.

My son will start doing research on campus this summer. For those that say there might not be as much research opportunity at the undergraduate level, all he had to do is ask. He had the option to start sooner, but he deferred it to the summer to focus academically during his first year.

Because he will be on campus during the summer, he will also be taking extra summer classes (WPI gives current students 30% reduced pricing in summer classes) to make more space in his schedule the following years. WPI already gives students some wiggle room in their schedule, but he wants to pursue a Masters (4+1) and wants maximum flexibility should the opportunity of cooping present itself.

Next year he will be living in WPI’s upper class men apartment style housing. I consider it to be the best of both worlds. It is still campus housing, so he does not have to deal with landlord or utility bills yet (he will probably have that opportunity later on) but he will have access to a full kitchen, so he does not have to buy a meal plan unless he chooses to do so. And if he does get a meal plan there are several flexible options that allow upper class men to carry their meal credits all the way to graduation (no need to worry about expiring unused meals).

Current senior here!

*I cannot say enough about how awesome the projects are (in addition to IQP and MQP many courses have rigorous projects as part of the curriculum). I did all of mine on campus and had great experiences; learned a lot about how to effectively work in a group as well as doing really interesting stuff that ended up on my CV

*I work really well with the intensity of 7 week terms. You stay on top of things but don’t have to juggle 5 classes.

*Tons of flexibility and opportunities for extracurriculars. See my gigantic music post…

*Upperclass housing is really nice if you get in, and there are lots of apartments around if not.

*Nice size–big enough where you don’t know everyone, but small enough that you’ll always be around people you know

*Great career center that offers interview and resume help as well as networking

*WPI encourages really early specialization, so there isn’t always freedom to explore opportunities or interests

*There isn’t a ton of support for those who want to enter PhD programs after undergrad.

*Worcester is a little sketchy and it can be boring to be on/around campus all the time after a while

@GoatGirl19 - does WPI or any clubs within WPI sponsor weekend or day trips. Either skiing/snowboarding, a Red Sox game in Boston, Cape Cod, weekend in NYC, etc… ?

There are definitely lots of trips sponsored by (I think) the social committee—day trips into Boston or to NYC, Six Flags, etc. As for skiing, hiking, and climbing, there is an outing club and many people find ways to go with friends. The times I’ve been to Boston it’s been just taking the train in with my boyfriend for a day trip—it’s about $25 per ride.