Can you leave the dorms at night? Do you have to sleep in your dorm every night? How regulated is this?

You are able to leave your dorms at whatever time you choose, as long as the campus is not on lockdown (does not happen often). You do not have to sleep in your dorm every night, you can choose where you sleep. You are a grown adult in college, no one is micromanaging you while you are at RPI.


I am an international student. This is my first time in America. Can you explain what is proper professor-student interaction in America? How do American students address their professors? How should the underclassmen treat the upperclassmen? Any more advice about American society would be so helpful! Thank you!!

Advice on all of American society could not fit within the scope of this single answer or even this whole website. What I can say is that in any institution of higher learning, there is a certain amount of respect expected from everyone generally. It’s small things like addressing a professor by “Professor (blank)” or not calling out in class, etc. It’s basic common sense. The upperclassmen are also a great resource on campus, so do not hesitate in asking for help or getting to know someone. You’ll just notice these things as you spend more time at RPI.

I am planning to buy stuff like clothes, towels, toothpaste, and school supplies when I move to RPI’s campus. Do students living on campus get discounts (from RPI’s bookstore, Walmart, etc.) for the stuff they need to buy for their rooms?

There will be “back-to-school” sales at places like Wal-Mart and probably the RPI Bookstore, but it won’t be just for students buying stuff for their rooms. It will be public sales/discounts, not a student discount.

Are you allowed to go to the dining hall and take food to-go? For instance, am I allowed to go there, eat, and put more food in a lunch box and take it with me?

Short answer: no. You can take simple things like pieces of fruit and food that you’ve already eaten part of. There are also meals to go which allow you to get food at the entrance to take to with you. Imagine how difficult it would be to make money if people were coming to stock up on food once a day and taking multiple meals with them.

Are girls mean/stuck up because they are surrounded by guys who probably give them a lot of attention? I asked because I am an incoming freshman female and don’t want to be around a bunch of girls with bad attitudes. :( Thanks!

Some girls can get self-centered due to the attention they receive, but it’s not a common issue and it’s easily avoidable. I don’t regularly interact with any girls (or guys) who feel like they are more privileged than others in terms of whose attention they have… and to be fair, I interact with a pretty large group of people on a regular basis.

Do you know how hard it is to set up a club at rpi as a freshman? i want to set up one similar to what ive seen at other schools, and im hoping that if i am able to find enough interested people and be able to set it up within a few months. would this be impossible?

To save myself time (and because it offers the most complete response), I will link you to a recent article by the Poly (RPI’s student newspaper).

My brief response would be: if the club (or something similar to it) doesn’t already exist, you can create it within a semester.

Say I wanted to mail a present to my friend for her birthday, is there somewhere on campus to get a box to send it in? likewise, if someone sends me a package and it doesn’t fit in the mailbox, what happens?

You can buy 1.5 ’ x 1.5 ’ x 1.5 ’ cubic boxes at the bookstore for ~ $3, but that’s probably larger than you want. Usually, students kind of do a box exchange. Any box that you receive something in can be left at the Commons Mail Room for other students to reuse. Stop by the mailing office (adjacent to the pick-up counter) to look through their box selection. The used ones are all free. You can also buy boxes/packaging here at the Commons Mailing Office and at the Postal Sub-station in the Games Room of the Union.

Students often receive packages that don’t fit in the mailbox. In this case, you will receive an email to your RPI email address with the subject “PACKAGE RECEIPT NOTICE: ONE EMAIL PER PACKAGE” and you can go pick up the package at the Commons Mail Office during business hours. Check out their website here. The staff is great!

I’m bipolar and I obviously need to continue maintaining my health. Do you have any experience/knowledge about how this is handled through the health services at RPI?

Unfortunately, I don’t have much experience with the Health Center, but it is on campus in Academy Hall. This website ( should be helpful and if you cannot find answers here, call them during the workday at this number: (518) 276-6287. Hopefully they can answer your questions and setup some appointments for you!

How helpful and resourceful is RPI in finding you internships and jobs?

We have the Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) which is a great resource for job and internship searches. There are two career fairs annually, one in each of the fall and spring semesters. At these events, there are typically over 100 companies seeking interns and full-time employees for the full range of majors.

The CCPD also offers help with your resume and can connect you with companies. They arrange for companies to come give info sessions which is a good opportunity for you to get an interview.

Neither RPI nor the CCPD will do the work for you, but they’ll certainly make the process a little easier.

I’m coming from the South, and down here people are super nice. I haven’t heard the greatest things about NY, so I’m a little scared to head to RPI since it’s right near the state’s capital. I know you included a friendliness chart (props to you for that by the way), but since I am from the south, do you think I’ll experience a little tough love? In the south, you can ask anyone anything, even a random stranger–but I hear in NY people don’t really answer you that well and snub you when you talk

As a Texan, I understand your concerns. I spent my teenage years learning to say “yes, m’am” and hold doors open for anyone. I know about the “southern hospitality” that you’re used to seeing every day.

But, having lived in 7 states across the country, I have a good feel for the dynamics of our nation. Don’t be scared! You’re not going from a small town where everyone knows everyone to NYC. You might be coming from a small town, but RPI is a great, welcoming community of students, faculty and staff. You might not hear the familiar “yes, m’am” “no, m’am” and “y’all.” Everyone probably won’t hold the door for you, but you’re not going to be snubbed for asking for directions. If it’s any more comfort, you won’t be the only one from the South, either. I know of at least 6 of my classmates (just in my year) that are from Texas; I’m sure you’ll have plenty, too!

I’m a girl and I’m just a little nervous about going to RPI because of the ratio. In my h.s, I have tons of pretty much only girl friends, so the ratio scared me a little. I know you’re a guy, but do you know what your girl friends think about the ratio? Do they wish there were more girls at the school or do they feel comfortable enough with the guys at school? Thanks in advance!

Since you asked your question, I’ve talked with some of my girl friends to get their opinion on this topic. Of the five young ladies I spoke to, they all said they were very comfortable with the ratio. It was kind of funny: two of them said that the only time they notice the ratio is when they sit in class and count the number of guys. For the most part, we as students don’t really notice the ratio in our normal day-to-day activities. The girls said that they feel completely comfortable with the ratio because everyone is so friendly and it’s easy to make friends.

On the topic of making friends and making girl friends, you will have great opportunities when you come to school in the fall to find social groups. You can start now by finding some classmates on Facebook. If you’re coming to Accepted Students Day (April 9) that’s another good opportunity. Unless you attend SO (Student Orientation) #5, you’ll room with some girls that you can get to know at SO. These will probably be different than your roommates for the year.

As things pick up, you’ll see how many opportunities there are to get involved on campus and make friends. You can look into joining a sorority or playing on a sports team. Both of these are great opportunities to have a group of exclusively girls to get to know and appreciate. If neither of these interest you, we have many, many service groups on campus. You’ll probably find that the service groups tend to have a more even (or even reversed!) ratio. I serve on the Relay For Life Committee; we have a 35:65 ratio. Thats male:female!

While I understand your concern, I think you’ll discover that it’s not as bad as you expect. You’ll find that a lot of the guys are gentlemen and I think you’ll find it easy to find and make friends with girls. Plus, guys are a nice break from all of the drama and girl stuff!

How friendly, overall, is the student body? Do people tend to keep their rooms open, or are people more private?

I would say the student body, on average, is pretty friendly. There is a large spread in the friendliness – we have some unfriendly people and quite a few very friendly people. As I’m an RPI student, I just decided it would be most fitting to show you this in graphical form. Please laugh, very hard, haha! I would say people tend to keep their room open, or encourage you to knock and say hello (perhaps they’re trying to focus on a Sunday afternoon, you know).


Is there a nurse/doctor, etc on campus?

Short answer: yes.

We have the Student Health Center located on the 3rd floor of Academy Hall. It’s not a hospital, but you can make appointments to be evaluated if you’re sick, etc. Their site says they offer (in addition to appointments): medical, gynecology, and allergy clinics, counseling services, and health education and wellness programs.

Also, Samaritan Hospital is a short walk away from campus (just across from the ice house) and we have our own ambulance service in case of emergencies.

Are students generally wealthy at RPI (due to the high tuition), I know it depends but overall?

As I’ve only been to a private school, I don’t really have a solid comparison. However, I would say that RPI doesn’t really carry an image of students flaunting wealth. Some 90% of students receive aid – many of us also take out loans and search for scholarships. Don’t be under the impression that you’re going to meet a bunch of people who are spending $50,000 + a year out of pocket to be educated here.

I would say that most of my friends and classmates are the standard “poor college student.” We work in the summers and on breaks (and during the school year, for some of us) and spend our own earnings on food, books, clothes, and leisure.

You’re not going to be overwhelmed with wealth.

Hows the diversity at RPI?

Honestly, I feel that diversity is lacking at RPI. I would say that we have student from many different places, but there are not MANY students from many different places. I recently read that the Class of 2014 has students from 42 of the 50 states, all four territories (I believe) and from 14 countries. However, only 27% of the students are from outside of the northeast. I tried to find specific numbers for the student body, but couldn’t.

However, the students that we do have from diverse backgrounds are pretty active. We have a ton of multicultural student organizations which you can see here: . I would say many, but not all, of them are active.

I want to bring my Nikon SLR. Have you seen how others secure their valuables and what would you recommend?

Most people don’t make much of additional effort to secure valuables beyond locking their door. If you want, you could consider buying a small strong box/safe, but the dorms are rather secure. If you’re worried, get a safe, but you should be just fine if you lock your door and don’t walk around telling everyone that your camera is sitting under your bed, or whatever.

I personally have a Canon dSLR that I am comfortable having in my room only locking the door.

What is your opinion on the whole ratio situation? Is it really as weird as it is made out to be? How do you think you all RPI students are viewed in the work world?

As far as girls go, you’re aware of “the ratio.” You can look at it from a variety of perspectives. Is it visible in the classrooms, clubs, dining halls, etc? Yes. Does it make guys lonely and not have any female friends? No. If you’re currently at a school with a typical (1:1) ratio then you’ll see differences. You might have to work harder to earn someone’s attention, but it’s not annoying.

As far as the view of RPI from a professional-external perspective: we’re regarded highly. People with RPI degrees are considered to have an advantage compared to job applicants from many other schools. Especially in engineering, RPI will be recognized around the world by companies/employers. Having Rensselaer on your diploma will pay off.