Academically: From my experiences, college is not at all like high school in terms of competition. I don’t know what background you come from, but in my high school students were very focused on their class rank. At RPI, I feel confident saying that almost no one cares about rank.
In college, most students aren’t trying to get the best grade in the class on an exam. I would say that people try to get higher than the exam average. RPI students tend to work harder when things weigh more towards their semester grade (… makes sense, right?).
Athletically: We have some very good sports teams. We have 23 varsity teams (all division III, except M’s and W’s hockey), some junior varsity teams, and many, many intramural sports. I personally have played intramural ice hockey and soccer. Our Division I Men’s Hockey Team just got seeded in the NCAA tournament, so we’ll be playing in Green Bay this weekend!