The professors at rpi vary from great to terrible. I havent encountered any horrible professors yet but know of some who are ver hard and other that are impossible to understand with there broken accents. Choice of professor is key in picking a class as some professors deliver more help and are much more lenient with there grades. Its a good idea to ask older students before enrolling. The academics can be challanging as most is test based being a mathamtical school but it is fairly easy to coast at times between test as access to answers is to homework is very easy around campus. The hard work pays off as i know many seniors who went into second semester with job offers in there back pocket and also know many sophmore and juniors plus some freshman getting paying internships for the summers that pay starting around 14-15 and up.
I don't think I have too much to say about academics. So far my classes have been alright. There are obviously those few classes that everyone absolutely despises. In RPI's case, Chem 1, Physics 2, Calculus 2, and pretty much any other class that ends in 1 or 2 (I only listed those classes that I attended myself). Once you get into the higher level classes, the material gets harder, and the profs get a little bit more flexible and friendly... emphasis on little bit. My personal favorite class as of yet is Computer Music. We basically sat around in a computer music lab full of G5 macs, mixing boards, and midi keyboards and learned how to use everything. It also helped that the prof was kind of crazy. Also, a lot of what I've said is subjective and possibly flat-out wrong. Believe me at your own risk.
Academics are HARD. There is no such thing as a class where you can skip every class, come to take the exam, and end up with an A. Some classes are harder than others, but all of them require some time and effort. It depends on the professors, but I have found that most of my classes are interesting, and I enjoy going to class. Once you finish your freshman year and most of your lecture classes, most of your classes end up being very hand-on, and more project based rather than exam based. This is one of the things that I enjoy most about RPI. By doing project and presentation based work, I have found myself retaining more of the information beyond the semester, and it has prepared me very well for my internships and job.
the classes tend to get very large, which discourages from an equal professor-student interaction. also, most professors tend to be under the assumption that because you are taking the class, you definitely have prior knowledge of the subjects (like computer programming) and they skip over all introductory topics. what they dont realize is that even non computer science majors have to take the class, and most have no idea whats going on because they have never done anything like that before. students most often have to look towards friends or english-speaking TAs for help, as professors are often foreign and EXTREMELY hard to understand.
The academics at RPI are actually very good. The professors all know their fields and teach well, and the departments that lend themselves to a community of exploration (arts, cognitive science) provide one. Just make sure that whatever you want to study actually exists here - don't try to be an English major or anything. You will also hear people complain about TAs that don't speak English. The TAs speak English fine; the problem is that students who say that are too racist to try to understand English through an accent. I am not making this up. Unfortunately, the problem is endemic to the student body.
Rensselaer is more than just lectures, it is about learning through alternative methods. As the first college to implement studio style learning, classes at Rensselaer take a more active role in you learning. Studio class incorporate a lecture as well as hand on application time during class so you see the real life application of these techniques. As a dual management and design, innovation, & society student, there is a sense of creativity in this combination. Duel majors are quite common and afford students the ability to shape their education and better prepare themselves for the future.
Some professors DO actually know my name and for good reasons too! My least favorite class by far - CAD. The bane of my existence. Students study however much and whenever they feel pleased to do so. Class participation can be seen in some classes, but is non-existent in others (but iClickers are fun and they keep you awake!). I will hear the occasional intellectual conversation as I'm walking down the hall of the dorm or on my way to class. Some students are competitive, others aren't. Normally I do not spend time with professors outside of class, but I will go to them if on need help.
More so than most liberal arts or larger universities the specficity of major and studies is something I really enjoy about RPI. All the students that are there are very driven and interested in their respective studies. As a result the Academics are not so much a drain as they are a life style. Especially in the architectural field the academics and general conversation tends to overlap frequently. Even general conversation about the architectural career is very previlent between students and faculty and as a result you learn to truly enjoy your academic stay at RPI.
Academics at RPI are tough..if you don't do your work you will never make it. Depending on your major professors may know you by name, my major almost all the professors I have had knew my name during the class. A great thing about RPI though is how career oriented everything is, when you come out of RPI you are among the top recruited college students in the country.
When's the last time anyone took a tour of the business school which has ranked top 40 in the nation? RPI does not paint a very accurate picture of themselves when they advertise to incoming students or community members. If I desired to learn from an organization that said one thing and did another, I would attend classes at the White House.