- Class: Senior
- Major: Government
- Gender: M
- High School: Westwood High School
- Transfer Student: N
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 biggest downside to the campus size, in my experience, is that we have fewer courses each semester than bigger schools. You won't necessarily be able to find that narrow speciality course on the one decade of Albanian history that really fascinates you or whatnot. For its size, though, the course offerings are pretty good, and the Rochester Curriculum gives you tons of flexibility. Speaking of the Rochester Curriculum... It's awesome! General ed requirements sound like a horrible idea, and they don't exist at Rochester. You have to take either a major, minor or cluster (3 related courses) in each of 3 broad thematic areas. Plus, you have to meet your major/minor requirements and take one freshman writing class. Other than that, it's up to you! With 32 classes in a normal full-time schedule over 4 years, and many majors taking less than half that many to complete (Poli Sci takes 12. History takes 10. Math/sciences usually take a lot more), there's usually tons of room (for Humanities/Social Sciences majors, anyway) to take random classes just for fun. There's a wide difficulty range between different classes. If you plan your schedule entirely around easy grades, you could probably get a 4.0 without too much difficulty with a moderate amount of work. In some classes, you'll be buried to the neck in work just to pull a B. It pays to ask around, or to use various online resources to pick profs and classes. As with the classes, students' grade consciousness varies a lot, too. There are a fair number of GPA competitive students trying to go to law school, grad school, etc. There are also a fair number of students who could care less so long as they don't get kicked out or lose their scholarships/grants. As I said, there's a wide range in class difficulty, so if you want a challenge it's there, but if you want to coast through you probably can do that as well. As with difficulty, classes range a lot in terms of quality of discussion. I've taken some classes with discussion that was, in my opinion, easily grad school level. I've taken some classes where, every time certain students opened their mouths, I began to fantasise about jabbing my pen deep into my eye socket to poke a hole in my brain and end the misery. Smaller, higher level classes are obviously more conducive to good discussion. There are a variety of classes in the Comp Lit department that are usually under 20 students with over half grad students. These classes are awesome if you like good discussions and knowledge for its own sake. They will also never help you get a job outside teaching ;) The Quest courses offered to incoming freshman are great. I took the one on Nonviolence, and it's one of the best classes I've ever taken. I've heard mostly good things about the other ones, too. If you find one that interests you, I highly suggest signing up for one.
I went into this a lot already. In terms of politics, students are liberal by American standards, but more centrist than I expected based on the stereotype of the university student. I've met a grand total of two students who would actually defend Bush and the Iraq War, but that's hardly surprising at this point. The average student is probably a moderate Democrat who hates Bush but has some reservations about Obama. There are activist groups on campus, but most non-members view them with little more than scorn. Math/science students interact with others a lot less because of their workload, but in general, the Rochester Curriculum helps bring together students in different majors with some shared common interests. There are a lot of locals and Northeasterners, but an increasing number of out-of-region students like myself as well. It's not the most diverse campus, but it could be worse; I've had classes with all white people, but they're fairly rare. Religiously, there are a substantial number of atheists/agnostics (as on most college campuses), and the religious students are predominantly Jewish or Catholic from what I've seen.
The Best Things
the rochester curriculum
The Worst Things
the meal plan