Professors knows my name because i stand out. I am one of few blacks student in the architecture department. My favorite class are classes that are not in my core curriculum such as electives. My least favorite class are my core classes. Students study 24/7 at this school. In my field class participation is encourage. RPI student have too many deep intellectual conversation about anything from robots to dungeon and dragons. Student are very competitive about their school grades. The most unique class I've taken is Studio. I am part of the architecture department. I am a second architecture student. My major is really though because it is so time consuming that if you don't have the passion you won't survive. I spend little time with professors outside of class but there are some that goes out their way to try to know you as an individual. David Bell is one of those professors that i'll always remember. The academic requirement is pretty demanding but fair sometimes. The education in the school of architecture is geared toward getting a job. You have to want to succeed in order for you to be better at what you do.
I personally love the academics at RPI, granted I am not an engineer. The professors here for the most part are great and teach fairly well. This is an intense university that requires a good amount of studying, but not an unbearable amount. There are two main complaints I have about the academics at RPI. First, some of the professors and TAs speak the most broken English you have ever heard. They have thick accents and sometimes just do not know the language well enough to be teaching a class. This is a problem you will encounter at RPI, but with reading the text book, it is not too hard to overcome. Second, the major requirements for some majors are a little messed up and not quite in line with what you would think would be required for that major. Its not too bad, and is more of a problem with some majors then others. Overall RPI has great academics and the professors are very good. Also if you want to do research with professors it is easy to get into and looks awesome on your resume. Once you come out of RPI you will be more then prepared for the job you get.
The academics are really good here. Most professors are really nice even in the big freshman lectures and are happy to talk with you and help you out. TAs are hit and miss, some are actually more helpful than the professor but there are quite a few who haven't figured out English yet. I've had a couple professors who have had horrible accents but for the most part its not a problem. After sophomore year, the class sizes get fairly small (<25) with the exception of the big majors (mechanical, civil, electrical). As a materials engineer, I am on a first name basis with a lot of professors in the materials dept. For the most part the students aren't competitive. We all try to help each other out and you really get to know the people in major well because of that. The management and humanities departments are a total joke though and basically exist for athletes and people who can't handle engineering but don't want to transfer. As far as studying goes, there is a lot of work but most people don't let it rule their lives (we aren't Cornell students).
Academics at RPI are hard. What do you expect? The school is one of the best places for an engineering degree and their hard work ethics spread through every discipline. Your professors will know you and you will know them fairly well by the end of the semester. If you take the time to email them and communicate with them, or talk to your TAs about your class performance you will do better. The school is very big on networking, so use that and network throughout campus, find back tests and information on professors- it is useful. Students aren't necessarily competitive, but they all strive to do well. Some it comes easy for, but most work for the grades the get. The requirements, at least for engineering, don't leave time for much, but you are required to have some electives in there so a Psyc minor is always one people tend to lean towards. RPI is geared to what you will need in industry, not just theory stuff. Even in Calc II and Diff Eq it is set so you use your math skills towards real life engineering problems you would solve.
As a Chemistry major, the classes tend to be fairly small, except for the large General Chemistry lecture. The professors invariably learn your name and will interact with students outside of the classroom. Many of the professors actively recruit undergrad students for research opportunities. The chemistry club hosts a research forum and participates in outreach activities to the community, as well as inviting speakers for meetings. Many of the classes are difficult, but are essential to getting a well-rounded chemistry background. Grad classes can be taken by undergrads meeting the pre-requisite requirements. Students are fairly competitive, but there tends to be a mix of students (sophomores, juniors, seniors) in many of the classes, so it's a cooperative-competitive environment. The curriculum is ACS certified, which is attractive to both employers and graduate schools. The curriculum allows for either job or grad school opportunities, depending on a student's desires.
I graduated in Communication with a concentration in Graphic Design. It's basically like EMAC, but I got out of taking introductory Photoshop, so that's why I did it. All my classes (except math ones) were less than 30 people, so Professors knew who I was. My favorite professors were Sara Tack and Paul Miyamoto. I learned the most from them and it has helped me grow as a designer. My favorite classes were taken from these two professors. My least favorite classes were taken with Audrey Bennett. I didn't learn anything or gain anything from her classes. Class participation was essential to being a designer, it's probably different for a lot of other majors here. I never studied too much but I pulled a lot of all nighters the day before projects were due. RPI's graphic design programs needs time to develop into something stronger. They also need better (more critical) full time staff in that department.
its hard, but worth it. you have to know, or learn, how to balance time. the main problem with the academic aspect of rpi is that there are a lot of foreign professors. and TAs. but if you can get past that they're there for you whenever they need them, and most actually take an interest in what your planning on doing, and how your doing in their class. there's always research options, and there are so many plans here to help anyone who is struggling. plus in all freshmen dorms there is a learning assistant that can help, or direct you to who can help you. its really nice. plus there is tutoring for free, and there are extra lectures called supplemental instruction that help reiterate what you've learned in the class that week. so really the academics are better than most. and i've never had a problem getting help when i needed it, or even wanted it.
Academics at RPI are very good. You required classes for freshman and sophmores are generally large lectures(~100 poeple) but your electives and usually much smaller(~25) and your professors know who you are. As you get to your junior and senior year your specific major classes tend to get smaller. For my major, materials engineering, there is 25 people in my class so thats the max people in any materials class. Class participation is common, and professors like to converse with students and impart their knowledge on them. Students do have intellectual conversations outside of class as it is a very intellectual institution. Students can often get research for a professor, kind of like a work study, and its good for a resume. The education, especially in engineering is geared toward getting a job and being successful at it.
I'm an architecture major so my classes are somewhat different than that of the Engineers. We have a class size of about 60 students. From there we take a studio class that consumes most of our time. In studio we are broken down into smaller sections of about 15 people each. The professors are great and the definitely know our names. They are so personal and actively help us in the job search as we get older. I am currently on a study abroad with one of my Professors from the RPI campus. The academic here are strict and they expect a lot. They set impossible deadlines so that we will push ourselves to reach them. The education in the architecture department is 100% geared to developing a unique design style in hopes of getting a job in the future.
Class sizes vary on what you're taking. If you have Math 101 chances are that you're going to meet in a lecture hall. However, for said Math 101 you get smaller classes about once a week with TAs where you get to go over lecture material and ask questions one on one. Conversely, if you are taking a higher level course that is major-specific chances are you will be in a smaller classroom with your professor with more familiarity. As far as I can tell, most professors hold regular office hours and promote people going in to ask questions. Beware the workload; one needs to say diligent with his or her studies as most class paces are pretty fast and it's easy to fall behind if you are not careful.