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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Magellan College Counseling - RPI old church 2

A former church is now home to the computer engineering department at RPI. Perfect, since “most students at RPI worship their computers,” my tour guide said.

Guitar Hero was started on the RPI campus, and the founder of Texas Instruments is an RPI alumnus.  Oh yes – and George Ferris – you’ve heard of him from his Ferris Wheel – RPI Class of ’81 (1881!).  Rensselaer is a techie place – a place where very smart math and science students will be in good company.

Best known for engineering, RPI sits at the top of the Hudson River in Troy, NY – about 20 minutes outside of Albany, the state capital.  RPI is actually home to five undergraduate colleges:  Engineering, Science, Architecture (offers a 5-year B.Arch. degree), Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and Business.  The faculty panel I saw talked about “low walls” here – meaning there is much interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary work by both faculty and students.

With just over 5,000 undergraduates, Rensselaer is on the upswing.  Applications have tripled over the past decade, and RPI’s programs in game design and digital art, as well as the Lally School of Management, are highly ranked.  RPI’s engineering school is listed in USA Today’s Top 10, and RPI ranks 42 on the US News national universities list.  Top majors include biotechnology, computer innovation, information technology and lighting research.  You can learn more about RPI here.

Magellan College Counseling - RPI biotech 3

RPI’s new biotech building

Smart students will feel challenged at RPI.  All students are strongly recommended to take physics, biology, calculus, and calculus is the lowest level of math here.  “I had to push to be above medium my first semester,” said one student on the panel I saw, after telling us that she was at the top of her class in high school.  RPI also has a very strong reputation with employers, and students say that the career center is very helpful in assisting students with finding jobs and internships.

Students stay busy with sports and Greek life – about 30% of the students join fraternities and sororities.  Hockey is king in upstate NY; RPI’s hockey team is Division I while the rest of their sports are Division III.  Students say the food is great.  The EMPAC – Experimental Media & Performing Arts Center – has a 1200 seat concert hall and is the second most acoustically sound building in the world (are you surprised that there’s a sound engineering connection to this arts building at RPI?).  The gender balance at RPI is a little different than at most colleges in the US today – about 70% men and 30% women – for now.

Magellan College Counseling - RPI EMPAC bldg (theatre space)

A more traditional building is reflected in the windows of the EMPAC building. The lobby cafe – called Evelyn’s Cafe – has vegetarian/vegan food.

RPI has a beautiful campus filled with brick buildings along a large grassy quad.  The students are friendly and happy to talk about their experiences here!

You can see all of my photos from my visit to RPI here.
Admissions Stats:  SAT CR 620-720; Math 67-770; ACT 27-31.
Visit date: September, 2014

 

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