We visited Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) this afternoon. Our third in-person college tour. It’s interesting to see how each school greets prospective students, what information they focus on at the visits, what parts of the campus they show, etc.
RPI is apparently a pretty prestigious engineering school, but we all kind of agreed that they didn’t put their best foot forward. The tour started with a luke-warm welcome at the admissions building, an old building with even older white guys pictures hanging on the walls. It was clear their heritage was important, however the dirty/broken bathrooms and abundance of sticky sanitizer everywhere did nothing to enhance the perception of prestige.
The student leading the tour was friendly and knowledgeable about many things, but she glossed over the two areas of interest for my group, comp sci and physics. She was a chemistry major and apparently knew little about the other majors. The campus is sprawling and full of old, old buildings. The school was founding in 1824 and the buildings look the part. Many have their build date carved above the entrances. She took us through dark hallways and into a basement-ish classroom. She showed us a dorm that was very institutional looking, small and dark, and not at all inviting. One of the parents asked if it was an older dorm and the tour guide said “Yes, our newer dorms are bigger and air conditioned.” Umm… why are you showing us this scary prison dorm then?!?
They had one really nice, new building that was impressive. She said it was built with money from an anonymous donor, with the stipulation that it would be used for offices, not classrooms. What?! It was a nice looking building though, and the tour maybe should have started there. They also have a really nice auditorium space with lots of opportunities for music and performances, including stage and tech crews. That caught Lex’s attention.
Back through some other old buildings, then the tour guide left us in the parking lot. It was weird. We weren’t entirely sure what to make of the whole thing, but definitely didn’t walk away feeling amazing about RPI.
After charging up at the mall (the car and the people) we continued on our route to Rosy’s house. It was a long drive and we were all very tired.
Lex is ready to start filling out the Common App to apply to WPI and Champlain. We are also going to tour MIT this fall, so he might add that to the list as well. He was undecided about RPI as of this afternoon.