RPI isn't a very intellectual environment. You won't find many students discussing current events, philosophy, or literature here although you will find plenty talking about the servers they set up in their dorm rooms or World of Warcraft. The culture is definitely geared more towards getting a job than learning for the sake of it. Classes in the Humanities and Social Sciences department are fairly small so most of the professors know your name. The Economics department is unfortunately narrowly focused on both Ecological Economics and the Economics of Technical Change. Foreign language classes have been scaled back in recent years despite a push to have more students study abroad.
There are very few classes with larger lectures, really just classes like Calculus 1 or Chemistry 1. The teachers are very willing to help students outsid of the classroom and office hours are posted online. People ask questions and give answers in classes, and if the lecture is really thought provoking there is more participation. After a really interesting Calculus 2 lecture the conversation may continue to the dining hall and be discussed over a nice lunch. There are a lot of intellectual people on campus, with varied interests. The courses are challenging, but most students don't struggle too much. There is drop in tutoring availible and all TAs have office hours.
Academics at RPI are pretty good. They seem to balance the right amount of work with free time. The nice perk is that most students aren't very competitive so there is a cooperative feel to your studies. In addition, many companies really respect the RPI education, making it fairly easy to get a summer job if you do well. The professors are mostly available as they hold office hours and seem to be willing to help. However, one thing to note is that there have been a lot of clinical professors leaving to expand our strong research foundations, which may hamper the classroom in the long run. The effects of this have yet to be seen though.
My professors all know me by name, as does my advisor. My favorite classes are anything taught by Shawn Lawson and June Deery. Least favorite are the comp sci ones taught by people who can barely speak english. Class participation is sometimes a problem, but overall i find it to be a somewhat competative atmosphere. My major (Electronic Media Arts and Communications) is the best major on campus! Erin (our advisor) is the best advisor EVER! Architecture department is pretty good for the most part too. I've gone to functions and shared drinks with professors before. I found my education was geared more towards learning for its own sake.
I feel that RPI tends to focus too much on the graduate education than the undergraduate education. Sometimes, the classrooms put me in disbelief as to whether I am actually in a technological campus. Professors are really nice. That is one thing that I like about this school. A lot of professors are really chill and will talk with you about whatever as long as it is somewhat relevant. I wish that the students would get off the books and engage themselves on campus more. This is school is survival of the fittest in terms of academics. Doing other things outside of that seems to be seen as a disadvantage.
I've found a few professors who I've become very friendly with and have helped me out many times. Mostly - it's up to the students to get to know a professor and be more friendly if they desire to be. If anyone is interested in graduate school, building ties with professors is a very important part of that and you have to take some of that into your own hands. There are some teaching styles which I prefer over others and course layouts that I think can be revamped, but either way, the material is not going to be easy and there needs to be effort on the students' part to learn as much as they want to learn.
I'm a nuclear engineering student, and the program is really small. In some classes the professors try to learn names, but other classes don't have that luxury. A lot of professors are here more for research, and so sometimes they aren't exactly geared towards helping the students out. But, on the other hand, I got research as a freshman which wouldn't happen anywhere else. A lot of kids are really competitive and get worked up over grades... but basically, you're bound to fail something here. It's gonna happen, and the curve makes it so you'll have a 3.0 anyways.
A lot of the professors and TA's don't speak clear english. There are also some classes, like gen calculus and diff eq hat really shoudl be standardized more because I feel like I had some harder teachers and it effected my grade in comparison to my peers negatively. and if you were one of those smart kids in high school who never had to study, you are in for a rude awakening if you think you can do that here. That was me, thinking I could read the night before the test and I'd get it like in high school... not here, or any engineering school for that matter.
My favorite classes are also some of the hardest offered at RPI: Human Physiology and Organic Chemistry; I enjoy a challenge. The students are competitive, but not to the point where one student won't help a fellow student who doesn't understand the material as well. The students are competitive in the sense that they are all going for the same goal, a good GPA and a good job out of school. I've never had a problem with any professors. They are all very understanding and happy to help if you know how to ask for it.
Prof sometimes know your name, all depends on how persistent you are to gettin help from the professor. i have no favorite class. Um theres so many nerds here and kids that just stay in their rooms all day and do lots and lots of studying and whatever else they do. Yea RPI students are pretty much all very smart. RPI is a school where you come to put in 4 years or so of hard work so that itll pay off when you leave, its not at all like your typical state school. Job placement is like close to 100%.