What the Class of 2023 wants to know
The following questions were asked by freshmen who participated in The Polytechnic’s Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond event. Questions were answered in real time and later abridged into this article.
How would you recommend we budget our time to be both successful and have a life?
If you’re familiar with the “social life, good grades, enough sleep, pick two” diagram, it’s accurate. Make sure you’re using your time and energy with purpose. There’s never enough time in the day to do everything you’d like, so you need to learn to prioritize and balance the things that make you happy with what you need to succeed at this school.
When you walk back to your dorm during an hour break between classes and idle on your phone to pass the time, think about how productive you’re being at that moment. You might be better served spending that time on academic campus, studying or working on assignments. Getting all of your work done during the week will also give you more time to recharge with friends on the weekend.
Ultimately, be realistic with yourself. Don’t say yes to everything, because doing everything in college is impossible — even if you could do it in high school. Sometimes that means an A will be unrealistic in some classes, and the difference between a letter grade won’t be worth the hours and hours of extra work you put in. Most importantly, don't fall behind and skip classes just to do work for other classes.
What events are actually worth going to?
Try everything at least once, if you can find the time. You never know what you'll end up loving. Hockey games are always exciting. The spring concert is something to look forward to; a band is brought to campus to perform, and last year it was AJR. Our Opinion Editor John Stotz specifically recommends going to see the student improv group, Sheer Idiocy. Their first performance is this Friday at 8 pm in Mother's Wine Emporium. UPAC Cinema regularly shows movies in the Darrins Communications Center, which can be a cheap respite from the stress of classes. Many other events are listed on events.rpi.edu and relevant organizations' Facebook pages.
You should also go to semesterly town meetings, where the president of the Institute shares updates about RPI with the community and fields questions from attendees.
Is there a map of the campus somewhere?
There are physical maps outside of Public Safety and near the Sage Avenue shuttle stop. Practically, the map on Snapchat — which labels all of the individual buildings — and Google Maps are the most useful.
Why are upperclassmen upset with President Shirley Ann Jackson?
Many of us feel that she has disregarded genuine student concerns and made some decision that go against the best interests of our community. As a result of her actions, our Union is no longer student run — despite this issue being the focus of two well-attended demonstrations on campus, many Poly articles, and Student Government campaigns. Many of her actions have demonstrated that she is out of touch with numerous student issues with the state of the Institute; one recent example was her endorsement of an email that attributed the decrease in alumni donations to racism, sexism, and heightism, which we felt ignored numerous valid concerns about the state of Rensselaer. As a president who has been here for 20 years — which is well above the average tenure for this position — and led the list of highest paid private university presidents, we wish her actions always reflected that.
What are the coolest places to explore on campus?
There’s a campus exploration guide online — we won’t say where — but the tunnels connecting the Darrin Communications Center, Jonsson Engineering Center, and Jonsson-Rowland Science Center are a classic adventure. If you have a chance to go on the Spirits of Rensselaer Ghost Tour around Halloween, you’ll see just how haunted West Hall is.
How many of you actually get physical textbooks?
Physical textbooks are rarely needed for most classes, and under no circumstances should you buy a textbook before classes start. Most freshmen will need to buy access codes for WebAssign or a Pearson Mastering website for homework, and those online codes almost always come with an eBook. Try finding the books you need for free in PDF form online or by asking people who have already taken the class. You can also rent textbooks both online and in the bookstore, or buy them off upperclassmen at a steep discount.
Where are the group chats I should join?
Definitely join the Overheard at RPI Facebook group. There are also academic and catch-all discords with channels for all sorts of specific interests.
How does Safe Ride work?
Safe Ride is RPI-provided transportation that operates within an area around campus from 7 pm to 3 am. You can request rides through their TransLoc Rider app. More information can be found on their site. If you need a ride past these hours, the Department of Public Safety also provides escorts and they can be requested using the non-emergency number on the back of your Campus Card.
Where is the best place to get coffee?
There’s a Starbucks on-campus in the DCC, but make sure you have enough time to stand in line, especially after large lectures. Downtown Troy has great coffee and is priced accordingly. Superior Merchandise Company is a great date spot, and Little Pecks is another good choice.
Where is the best place to eat on campus?
Thunder Mountain Curry or your dorm kitchen — depending on how well you cook.
For upperclassmen, do you prefer to live on-campus or off-campus?
It depends on what you want. It’s way cheaper to live off-campus and you’ll have more space for the money you pay, but on-campus living is usually cleaner and more convenient.
Best places to study besides the library?
Empty classrooms after hours, the study spaces in dorms, the Union, and outside when it’s nice out.