- Class: Alum
- Major: Engineering
- High School:
- Transfer Student:
Georgia Tech really has a lot going for it, and I think the university is doing a lot to improve its image among its own students and perspective students. Due to its location on a prime plot of real estate, GT is constantly forced to pack a growing number of students in a very small space. I've heard horror stories of freshmen who have had to share a single-person dorm with three other students due to overcrowding, but the recent acquisition of the old Georgia State University dorms seems to have solved that problem. I saw the number of students in my major balloon as I went through school, which meant my classes kept getting larger and larger. As a senior, I imagined tiny seminar-style classes (like in movies), but even in my last semester I did not find myself in a class with less than 40 students. I really enjoyed living on Georgia Tech campus for 3 out of my 4.5 years there. Commuting to campus from an off-campus apartment in my senior year was fairly easy. Parking is expensive, but there were always spaces in my lot. There are quite a lot of people who live on GT campus -- especially Greeks and graduate students-- but a lot of freshmen go home on the weekends so things can slow down until Monday rolls around. When I was a freshman, it was trendy to complain about life at Georgia Tech: Classes suck, there are no women, there is no social scene, etc. As I went through each year, I noticed that people complained less and less as they found their niche and began fitting in with their social groups. But at the same time everyone was complaining, there was a tremendous amount of school pride on campus and at sporting events. It's pretty clear Georgia Tech is really trying to get rid of out-dated stereotypes. The population of women is rising quickly, there are a lot of options for students who don't want to study engineering or science, and the social scene is becoming more balanced. Looking back, I can see how Georgia Tech might not be known for its social scene. I went Greek, and so having something to do every weekend was no problem for me. I think a lot of the social scene at Georgia Tech revolves around the Greek system. If you really want to make the best of your time here, I would suggest finding a fraternity or sorority you feel comfortable joining and making the most of it. If you don't want to go that path, it's just important to get a group of friends, early in your first semester, whose company you enjoy and who will enhance your college experience in a positive way.
Academics at Georgia Tech are extremely rigorous, to say the least. GPAs are very low for freshmen and sophomores; either students study a lot and they simply don't do well, or they study very little and they don't do well as a result. I think it's a combination of the two. There are certainly a lot of younger students who aren't used to the rigorous and competitive atmosphere at GT and so they underestimate what their professors and fellow classmates expect from them. I used to think doing well here was a function of the amount of work and studying I put in, but I quickly realized you can study for hours and hours and still bomb a test. Succeeding at Georgia Tech takes a lot of hard work AND a knack for knowing exactly what professors are looking for on exams and projects. It's also important to know where to go and who to talk to in order to find answers to the tough questions. I majored in biomedical engineering, which was one of the most rigorous majors at Tech and seemed to have the greatest number of overachievers (pre-meds). I thought I was hot stuff in high school, but when I came to Tech, I could barely scrounge an above-average grade on even an "easy" exam. Things got much better as I started getting into my major classes and as I learned "the system," but classes were still challenging up to the end. Ostensibly, it would seem like Georgia Tech students work together on homeworks and projects and studying because they're "all in the same boat", in that most people study a difficult major. But in reality, while there is a lot of camaraderie in academics, people are still very competitive and they will do whatever is needed to ace the class and get a recommendation letter from the professor. That's life. I was fortunate enough to take advantage of the undergraduate research opportunities at Georgia Tech. It was a good way for me to use my coursework for a real-world application, and I would recommend it to anyone. My major didn't allow me to take too many electives without prolonging graduation, but I took one great class on the history of city planning in the school of Architecture. The professor, D. Allen, was probably the most engaging teacher of any class I took. Most of the other professors were approachable, but I wouldn't quite go so far as to call many of them "welcoming." They answered questions and held open office hours, but many of them also headed research labs and so you could tell teaching undergraduates was not a top priority. But many took the time to prepare thoughtful lessons and offered to stay after class to answer questions. I remember one professor in particular, R. Gleason, who used to stay with a group of four or five of us for at least 20 minutes after every class to answer When I came to college, I expected lounging at a coffee shop, discussing politics and other world issues with my coffee-drinking college buddies. Don't we all expect something like that? The reality is much different. It was rare that I had intellectual conversations with anyone but my closest friends. But as I visited friends from other schools, I noticed they didn't really live out my fantasy either. I can't exactly blame Georgia Tech for this. That said, if you love talking about computers, there's always someone to converse with. The education at Georgia Tech is definitely geared toward getting a job as opposed to going to graduate or medical school. There were monthly career fairs and a huge cooperative education office (Google it). But that's not to say it's impossible to go to graduate school from Tech, it's just a little more difficult because the GPAs tend to be lower.
Georgia Tech has a very diverse student body. There are also a lot of international students from areas in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. Students of different backgrounds interacted fairly well, but there were certainly a lot of cliques. I thought the biggest social division was between "techies" and "non-techies." Just walking down the sidewalk you could see the divide fairly quickly, among both girls and guys. At the dining hall, people actually did enjoy interacting with their dorm-mates, and so there was a lot of ethical and social mixing. Even in my major I found myself interacting with a lot of different types of people. Most students at Georgia Tech are fairly apathetic and quite conservative when it comes to politics and other hot-button issues. There are definitely clubs to join if you want to voice your opinion on campus, but these groups tend not to make waves here compared to other campuses with a more liberal student population. Even though GT is a technical university, it's still in the Deep South. People who are vocal about their race, religion or sexual orientation do not have a huge influence on campus. While social clubs devoted to separating people by these characteristics had a large following, some of them did very little to reach out to the rest of the campus community -- except of course when there was a political, racial or sex-oriented controversy in the media. Most (60%) of GT students are from Georgia. Among these Georgia residents, there are people from a wide range of financial backgrounds on account of GT being a public school. Among out-of-state students, most seemed to be more financially "comfortable." From day one you could pick out the people who came here because of a sincere interest in advancing the technical world and those who came here in hopes of earning a high-paying job. In this way, there was a lot of obsession with becoming professionally and financially successful, but I liked it because it fostered a healthy level of competition.
The Best Things
Friendly students, urban location, D1 sports
The Worst Things
Academics, people constantly complaining about their classes and lack of social life