Studying in high-tech studio classrooms where students work on team projects and collaborate to solve real-world problems is what students can expect when attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The 275-acre campus set on a bluff overlooking Troy, New York features a mix of classical ivy-covered buildings as well as modern research facilities. Speaking of research…it is a big part of what goes on at RPI. The Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies houses more than 400 researchers who work in such areas as regenerative medicine, bioinformatics, biocatalysis, and metabolic engineering.
Here are a few quick facts about RPI:
Freshman retention: 91%
Freshmen out of state: 67%
Most popular majors: engineering, computer science, business/management
4-year Graduation rate: 74%; 6-year: 87%
Student Community Diversity: 4% Black, 9.5% Latino, 15% International
Housing: Fifty-seven percent of students live in university housing. Freshmen and sophomores are required to live in the residence halls where they will reside in small, tight-knit student communities. Most upperclassmen choose to move into less expensive off-campus apartments. As far as the food goes, the dining halls get lukewarm reviews from students.
Academics: In order to graduate, students must complete coursework in the humanities, social sciences and physical, life and engineering sciences as well as 30 credits in their major and two communication-intensive courses (one of which has to be a writing-intensive course). When students get to their junior and senior years, they will find that their courses are self-paced and they will have the opportunity to take on paid positions helping with faculty research. RPI also offers co-op programs in more than a dozen fields which help students earn money and credits.
RPI’s Lally School of Management combines the latest technical applications with the elements of a business school. Entrepreneurship is one of RPI’s specialties; aspiring entrepreneurs from all majors can participate in a business incubator program – a support system for start-up companies run by RPI students and alumni.
Students in the information technology program select one of 20 concentrations, ranging from cognitive science to economics. The quality of the humanities and social sciences is related to their applicability to technical fields. Students also have the option to enter a 7-year dual degree program in medicine, a 6-year program in law or 5- and 6-year programs in business sciences or engineering.
Unlike many engineering schools, Rensselaer encourages undergrads to participate in some sort of international study, internship or service-learning experience. RPI offers programs in more than 15 countries on four continents.
The Advising and Learning Center gets high ratings from students for their drop-in tutoring services – good news for any student who needs a little extra help. For students looking for smaller class sizes, they will find that over half of RPI’s classes enroll fewer than 20 students. Most of the professors at RPI have spent multiple years in the industry before coming back to teach, which means students are being assigned projects that are relevant to their studies.
Similar colleges to consider: MIT, Caltech, Carnegie Mellon, Worcester Polytechnic
Social: Weekend options at RPI include sporting events, live entertainment, concerts, movies and half a dozen local pubs. Students also participate in celebrations in Greek houses and off-campus apartments. Albany is just a half hour drive away, for students looking for a larger nightlife scene.
Troy is not a traditional college town, but it does have good places to eat and beautiful parks, and students can take advantage of the free shuttle buses that run regularly to downtown. For more scenic excursions, the Berkshires, Catskills, Adirondacks, Lake George, Lake Placid, the Saranac Lakes, Montreal or Boston are not too far from campus.
Athletics at RPI revolve around ice hockey, which are the only teams that play in Division I. One of the biggest weekends of the year is Big Red Freakout, which involves activities to cheer on “Big Red” (aka the hockey teams). The other athletic teams at RPI play in Division III with the football, baseball, men’s and women’s basketball and women’s field hockey teams being the most successful. Students also have more than 200 student-fun extracurricular clubs to choose from.
Financial: Rensselaer offers both need-based and non need-based financial aid, as well as 41 athletic scholarships for men’s and women’s ice hockey. The average percent of need met is 12%, with 66% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees are $78,000, the average financial aid package is $33,100. 87% of students receive some type of financial aid.