Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)
College review by Lisa Bleich
RIT’s nickname is “The Brick City” due to the preponderance of brick buildings throughout. The campus looks more like a corporate park than a college campus on the outside, but once you go inside, the facilities are impressive on every front. RITs top programs include engineering, video design, film and animation, visual arts and design, computer science, health sciences, natural sciences, and environmental sustainability. Sustainability ranks highly for RIT, therefore all new buildings are LEED certified. The joke on campus is that there are two seasons at RIT, winter and construction. One new building goes up every 13 months. Recent buildings include a Center for Innovation and Design, Institute Hall for biomedical and chemical engineering and the Golisano Institute for Sustainability. The new hockey rink is slated to open next year.
There are 15,000 undergraduate students along with 1,300 deaf or hard of hearing students who attend the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Students can take classes in American Sign Language and many classes have an interpreter. All events are closed caption and students can get paid to take notes for their classmates. It brings an interesting sensibility to the campus.
Starting in 2013, RIT will move to a semester system. All students do a year co-op program (not all at once). I met up with one of my students who was in her fourth year majoring in computer software. She had a co-op position at Microsoft for the summer and was eager to get started. Students take 5 years to complete their degree (4 years of classes and one year of a co-op), but only pay for 4 years of tuition. Co-ops must be paid and are available throughout the world. As a result 75% of students get a job offer from their co-op experience.
Students apply directly to their major and take 75% of their classes in their major and 25% of their classes in the liberal arts. They can list up to three majors for consideration. All programs have a technology and experiential component ranging from research to clinical experience to study abroad to coops. For example a toy company asked environmental science majors to analyze toys to determine their toxicity, how they broke down and what would happen if a child put it in their mouth.
Students were laid back, dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt. We saw some art students dotted around the art building with a sketchpad in hand and engineering students clad in laboratory whites doing an experiment. We also saw several Indian and Malaysian students dressed in saris preparing for a cultural festival. It seemed like a spirited, connected community especially during some of the festivals like Freeze Fest, Spring Fest or the homecoming hockey game (their only Division 1 sport). About 5% of the community is involved in Greek life. There is also an ESPN Sports Zone for aspiring reporters. All the dorms are connected by underground tunnels, which help during the brutal winters.
RIT offers very strong student support services ranging from extending time on tests, academic tutoring, and note takers. For students with emergency medical needs, they have their own ambulance.
Overall RIT has a 58% acceptance rate; however, admission varies by major. The most competitive programs are Physician Assistant, Mechanical Engineering, Film and Animation, and Video Design. Admissions officers like to see consistency and improvement and they do look at senior year grades. They also look at content courses related to major. They will superscore the SAT and ACT. RIT is generous with merit aid and it is automatic.
RIT is a fabulous schools for students looking for hands-on learning with state of the art facilities and don’t mind cold winters!
Rochester Institute of Technology
One Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, NY 14623-5603