If you’re reading this as an accepted student, you probably already know that RPI is an excellent engineering school. According to Business Insider, we rank fourth in the country for engineering. Additionally, we rank among the top 50 universities in the country. However, this means that there are not many opportunities for a liberal arts education, and, consequently, you will rarely find large, abstract displays of art or barefoot, guitar-wielding musicians playing in the Quadrangle. Also, RPI is a research university. On one hand, this means that professors are only at the Institute for research, focusing less on teaching. On the other hand, this provides opportunities for students to get involved in research with their professors.
The Institute’s only Division I team, ice hockey, provides exciting sporting events, such as Big Red Freakout!, where RPI fans swarm the Houston Field House. During events like Freakout!, it may seem like there are many thousands of us, but RPI is actually a medium-sized school. This makes it big enough to become familiar with many people without feeling too overwhelmed. The dynamic observed here is that of many tight-knit groups, not any single, unified culture.
Speaking of culture, many students use the Rensselaer Union to study or just hang out. It is the core of student activities on campus and many clubs have spaces in it. Tours that show prospective students around campus often mention the Union as one of the few student-run unions in the country. However, most don’t know what this actually means. The Union is managed by the President of the Union, elected by the student body, and the Executive Board, whose members are appointed by the PU and confirmed by the Student Senate. The PU and E-Board oversee where all of the money from the Student Activity Fee goes, allowing for greater transparency.
Though there are certain critics that say Troy is a bad place to live, it is no different from any other city. Historic downtown Troy is a beautiful place to walk around and hang out. There are many excellent restaurants there, too. What most people criticize in Troy is but a small part of it, like in most cities.
Attending RPI is a unique experience, and we believe that there are many aspects to consider when deciding on the Institute. A few other things to check out while you are here are the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, intramural sports, and, of course, The Poly!