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.
It's a really good school, particularly as a research institution. If you're looking for the opportunity to start research--particularly in any of the sciences or serious social sciences--as an undergrad, it's perfect. It's small enough that students get individual attention but big enough that we have a lot of resources. The meal plan kind of sucks, parking is a ****, and obviously the school is overpriced. Those are the biggest things people complain about. Oh, and the weather. It gets super cold and cloudy for most of the year here, and Seasonal Affective Disorder is very much a real thing. It's awesome in the spring, though, when everyone is outside and excited to enjoy the weather. The social life is easy to find; almost all students live on campus. We've been a little low on housing the last few years so that might be changing, but it's pretty easy to connect with someone here without having to look too hard.
Overall, i am very pleased with my first year at rochester. it is just the right size (around 4500 or so i believe): its easy to get around without being overwhelmed and i am constantly meeting new people, but its also easy to get settled down and find a niche. the best thing about rochester is the people. the average rochester student is generally friendly and not not ***y/egotistical or too shy. there isn't a whole lot of geographic diversity (most people are from new york and the northeast), but there are many different kinds of people to meet from various socioeconomic backgrounds, and they make living on campus a great experience. the school is also very "middle-of-the-road." by this i mean that its not really known for having just one characterization, the students aren't over the top in regard to personality/appearance/ideologies/etc, and the academics are great but the school isn't that well known outside of the state. the city of rochester isn't much of a college town, but there are some nice areas to live off campus and there are plenty of night time hot spots, but a lot goes on on campus and many upperclassmen choose to live on campus all 4 years. there might not be a whole lot of "school pride" as its normally thought of in terms of loud sporting events, but generally everyone at school is very proud of where they are and it shows with other events on campus.
Rochester is a very unique city. It has a variety of things that you can do. There are clubs, bars, concert halls (classic and rock), historical things, nature trails, and so on and so forth. Basically if you wanted to get off campus and do something you should be able to find something to do. It's not a tiny city so big things like bands and big name performances do stop by in the town. It's not huge so you don't really have to worry about traffic or driving hours on ends to get from one side of the city to the other. I personally thing it's a nice balance of city / suburb / and rural. UR is fairly self sufficient. We have our own bus system a mini-store to buy groceries and that sort of things and various programs on campus throughout there year to entertain yourself. UR is expanding quickly, but as of now there is no defined college town. However plans have been drawn up to expand UR by twice or three times its current size and will occupy a larger portion of the area. The biggest issue at Rochester that, truly, affects UR undergraduates is the meal plan system. It recently has been tweaked so that you choose your meal plan based on your current dormitory. They say the calculation is based on the number of people using a single kitchen in a wing of a dormitory and the higher the number the more likely you will be using campus dining rather than you cooking yourself. This fundamentally screws up many upperclassman (and freshman) who live dorms on the residential quad as well as those who live in the freshman dormitory (Susan B. Anthony). Upperclassman who have volunteered their services to the university serving as Residential advisers (they're actually paid), Freshman Fellows (basically they are on hall academic support, unpaid), and D'lions (Upperclassman that live in the freshman building and help keep hall spirit up / provide events to keep people entertained and engaged in the university and Rochester community, also unpaid) are screwed over because previously they would have had meal plans that were much cheaper due to their upperclassman status. But now they must use the most expensive meal plan on campus. Also, and ironically enough, the hospital food (which you can use campus currency with) is better than many of the campus sites. If you like sports, UR isn't a bad place to be either. Unless you like football. we do have a reputation for losing at that particular sport very frequently. One last thing about Rochester, that I guess you have to talk about when you're looking into colleges. That is, of course, Alcohol. If you want to drink there are plenty of opportunities to, and if you don't you don't really have to and there are just as many people who don't drink / party like that. So like the weather, it's what you choose that will affect whether or not you like the atmosphere about that.
The city of Rochester is relatively boring with a few decent bars, a few mediocre clubs, mediocre weather, and a lot of old industry like Kodak that's slowly dying. At the same time there are a lot of college students in the area and there some areas like Corn hill and park ave that have a college lively feel to them. Overall the area is fairly liberal politically but varies by school somewhat. U of R is very open minded though decidedly left in political persuasion. There are a lot of cool events on campus but they get old because there's not as much variety as there should be so by junior and senior year you usually start looking off campus to local bars, clubs, etc for entertainment. The music scene in rochester isn't that great although you do have national bands come through but tickets are expensive. School pride isn't that big, although there is a certain rich private school feel on campus-but only from a minority of students who are stuck up and uber-rich. Basketball is probably the biggest sport and the only one where there is a large attendance at games. Basically Rochester is only a school to go to if you're really serious academically and willing to work hard pursuing your field of study. The freedom is nice but you also have enough rope to hang yourself if you don't work hard and stay on top of things. The career center sucks so hopefully you're ambition and good about applying for internships and jobs on your own. It's a good school but only for the smart, hard working student who is ok with only having one or two nights free all week for a little relaxing.
First things first, it's cold. Really cold. A lot of people have trouble adjusting to the winters. They're not so bad if you've lived in the NE or somewhere else with lots of snowfall before, but pack warm and be ready for the hell of a car in winter if you drive :) It's a fairly small campus, although it's expanding quickly over these next few years. This means that the party scene isn't always as active as you'd like, but it also means that you see some of the same people in a lot of your classes within a given major, the school administration is more flexible about, e.g., paperwork problems, etc. The city itself isn't really a college town, but there's stuff to do. There are a decent number of restaurants and bars in the nearby area, although pretty much nothing within walking distance. There are a couple live music festivals in the city each year, and there are usually good concerts either in Rochester or a nearby town like Buffalo. The local music scene is great, although it's hit-or-miss bringing it to campus these days. Housing is DIRT CHEAP in Rochester. It's very hard to get permission to live off campus as an underclassman, but once they let you off, assuming you have a car, it's a very good idea. The going rate for a room in a rented house or apartment seems to be around $300/month, less if you're willing to give up some space. I know a lot of people who rent full houses with only 1 or 2 roommates and pay substantially less than the price of dorms. The #1 complaint most students have is the horribly meal plan they force everyone on campus into. It's overpriced and terrible. Not as bad as, say, my high school food was, but it will still leave you craving fast food as if it were gourmet. Paying $7 for a 12 pack of soda only stings a little less when the $7 is dining plan money (which students frequently call monopoly money because it's next to worthless). They force you to overbuy, too; most underclassmen have enough meal credits to provide free food to all their upperclassman friends without coming close to running out. I think I had around 100 meal credits left at the end of the first semester. That's $700, gone. You will learn to despise Aramark. On the plus side, if you're willing to go spend real money on food from time to time, Rochester has good diners and the always delicious garbage plates (google it, they're delicious, best 3am post-bar food EVER!)
The best part about UR is the campus and the academics (later.) Other than a few months in the winter, the campus is absolutely beautiful and because the good weather is so scarce, when it is here everyone is outside either studying or throwing a football around or just hanging out and its a great dynamic. Obviously if I could change something it would be a shorter winter season. The campus size is perfect; about 15 minute walk from end to end. The student body could be a little bigger, but it's still ok. There still hasn't been a day where I walked around campus and recognized most of the people that I saw, which I think is very important coming from a high school class of 100. There are two distinct reactions when I tell people I'm at Rochester and the difference stems only from whether or not the person has heard of Rochester before. Those who have know what the school is about and respect it. Those who don't either think it is a state school or some terrible academic school that's in the middle of nowhere. Although some might not call this a college town I think I would and here is why: there are hundreds of quality restaurants within a short driving distance of campus as well as an area where there are about 15-20 bars/clubs where you can go on the weekends. Also, there are many other schools around here (St. John Fisher, MCC, Keuka, SUNY Brockport...) so interaction is not just limited to UR students. I don't have a strong opinion on the administration as I haven't had much contact with them, but there aren't many large events on campus that they have to deal with so their job is pretty hard to screw up. There is not much school pride and that is because there are many people who do have a problem with our horrible weather, or our large proportion of "nerdy" students or the fact that with the exception of a select few, our sports teams aren't very good.
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