The following reviews are the views of students or alumni at this school and are unrelated to the school data and other editorial content on usnews.com. These reviews neither reflect nor impact a school's position within the Best Colleges rankings.
RPI is a small school, mostly male (right now), but that is changing as the admissions is working to make it a more evenly distributed class. People on the east coast know the school well, and are stunned that you go there (especially if you are normal). On campus time is spent at the library, union, or DCC. The school is located in Troy, NY which isn't very nice to the students on campus, so you feel confined sometimes to only the campus area, but you can go into the town and not be scared (unlike they tell you the first year). RPI's administrators aren't helping the situation with downtown Troy and aren't doing a good job at encouraging students to go and support the town much.
The best thing about RPI is that everyone is smart and usually willing to help you out for nothing in return. Supposedly its easy to find a job after you graduate (unless you do a fringe major like Philosophy). There are enough people here that you can find your niche, whatever it is, but not so many that you get lost in the crowd. I see at least one friend, and tons of familiar faces every day on my way to class. But it doesn't feel crowded. The kids here take up projects voluntarily for stuff like going green, and theres papers and grafiti taped up around the student union and bridge with slogans and causes, but people don't hound you about them. The administration are greedy bastards who are trying to turn this school into a pure IVY league school with a strong liberal arts program, and feel that yearly 7% increases in tuition that you never see in scholarships or school programs is a good idea. This is supposed to be a tech school. I suppose that kind of sucks, but at least so far it hasn't seemed to have effected the science and engineering programs in too negative a way. Students routinely make fun of the EMPAC building (Experimental Media and Performance Arts Center) by calling it the "EMPAC spaceship" because its ugly and useless and taking years longer than it was supposed to to be built. RPI is also building a new Sports center that less than half the student population will use, but what is supposedly responsible for the huge tuition increases. The tuition here is too ***ing much, but the return on investment makes up for it.
I think the size of RPI is right for a good engineering school at abou 5000 undergraduate students. RPI is located in Troy, NY which is not a good college town. It can be pretty rough in places but the RPI campus itself is nice and pretty safe. The administration is very authoritative and just a pain. They are always dictating to students and faculty alike, they do not listen well to the student body or professors. Theres not much school pride, theres only 2 D-1 sports, men and women's hockey. All other teams are D-3 or club team which sucks either way. There are a lot of clubs for every interest but they are not usually well funded and theres not a lot of general athletic space around campus. The few actual team sports get all the priority while club sports, intermurals, and regular students get the screwed.
In general RPI is a great school with a very techincal background. As a result the events and working at both the graduate and undergraduate level is certainly on the cutting edge of todays technological and design development. While the nature of Troy and RPI can not necessarily be seen as initally exciting and extertaining I assure you that it is very easy to find ways to have fun and enjoy the college experience. The campus and the surroundings are welcoming of collegate students and I've never experienced a dull moment.
I would change the focus of the school. I know RPI needs to bring in research money to stay afloat, but so many of the professors that they hire care only about research and hardly at all about the students. I've had some really bad experiences where the professor, while very nice, just could not teach. The lectures we basically just repeats of the book, and he/she seemed confused when going over problems. RPI still has a great reputation though. When I tell people I go there, it's almost always "wow, you must be smart." Same reaction when I say I'm in engineering. A few people have even referred to RPI as the step below MIT. It's nice to have that kind of recognition for your college. The Union is where a lot of students spend a huge amount of time. There are places to eat, so many people will grab lunch and do homework between classes, and almost every group meeting I've been to has started at the Union. Also, lots of club meetings take place there as well. It's probably the "social hub" of campus. RPI's administration is the one thing that angers me to no end about the school. There seems to be a lot of student disapproval for the president and other high-ranking officials. The biggest recent controversy was the president and dean of engineering getting rid of the environmental engineering program, and combining it with the civil engr curriculum. This eliminates the requirement that Env. Engrs take organic chemistry, which is part of what made the program so highly regarded by environmental professionals. Also, it was the first Env Engr program in the country, and still one of the best. Also, the president is trying to shift the school to be more of a university, which a lot of people don't agree with (largely because most people are engineering majors, and that is what the school is known for - we think it should continue to be its main focus). The Electronic Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) is going to be completed soon - millions of our tuition $ going towards something that most people view as unnecessary. The administration claims that people will be able to use their skills to help put on performances, but honestly, what is a nuclear engineer going to do? Also, RPI is NOT known for its athletics. The only division 1 sport is hockey, and they have been seriously lacking wins the past few years. But that didn't stop the admin from building the East Campus Athletic Village. Most people I've talked to agree that it is also a large waste of money, and annoying because it shut down one of the main roads through upperclassmen housing. BUT that said, I love RPI and I am glad I made the decision to go there. I love the people I've met, the things I have tried (rock climbing, for example), and I've even enjoyed the majority of classes I've taken.
Don't come here if you aren't prepared to get busy... everyone has a sizable work load here. There's help with time management and stress relief to help you get down the right path but be sure to bring your best work ethics with you. RPI is a niche school... in order to get in the door you need to be smart and capable, and as a result you will find that your classmates and dormitory denizens are intelligent people who probably share common ground with you. While Troy, NY does have some local vibe to it for the most part RPI is not a college down as it were and parties in the streets is not a frequent activity. This isn't to say there isn't anything to do; there's hundreds of student clubs, greek life, and special events going on frequently.
Jon JuniorReviews provided by: Unigo