As of this week, I’ve been at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for a month. Honestly, summer in Hanover working at my friend’s company seems like it was a lifetime away at this point. RPI is in Troy, NY, a suburb of Albany about 3 hours from Hanover. An apt comparison for people around here would be Boston and Cambridge, albeit a little more industrial and gritty. Troy is a very fun city to live in and it’s nice to walk around Downtown at night with still many businesses open and running. Orientation Week went by slowly, but as soon as classes started, life picked up pace dramatically. I find myself staying up until midnight consistently in order to get everything done and still have time to get out and be with friends. It’s been fun to make all new friends and have a sort of fresh start at everything. I have met people from all over the country and even a fair number of international students. It makes you realizes how small Hanover really is in the grand scheme of the world and it’s given me a whole new perspective on people. Suffice it to say, my experience at RPI so far has been quite a ride.
Even with taking only four classes, the workload has surpassed anything Hanover ever assigned me. Though that is probably the case at any college, no one realizes how easy they have it in high school. At the risk of sounding cliche, taking a senior year schedule with real classes does make a difference in being ready for college. For instance, the Calculus 2 class I’m taking right now literally picks up right where Mrs. Gallotti’s Calculus AB class left off with integration by parts. Physics 2 at RPI also overlaps Doc’s curriculum extensively, especially in the spring when he gets into electricity and magnetism. I know both of those classes can be hard and, at many times, extremely frustrating but it’s worth sticking with them because that’s the level that my college courses expect you to have from day one.
Outside of classes, I’m amazed by the sheer number of things happening on campus at any time. There are so many clubs you can join, both professional and more fun-oriented. I’ve gotten involved with RPI’s student newspaper (The Polytechnic), Pep Band, Symphonic Band, and even the RPI branch of the IEEE (my major is Electrical Engineering). The Poly (www.poly.news) covers the events occurring around campus and also seeks to keep RPI administration accountable by reporting on their major decisions. It’s a great model for The Indian, in my opinion. Pep Band performs at home football and hockey games and travels away to a couple of hockey games every year.
Yes, this is college and there are parties and other “extracurricular activities,” as I’ve always jokingly referred to them. Part of the experience in the first month is to find the perfect balance between having fun and getting work done, something that I am still trying to find. I find making that balancing act is a part of growing up and becoming a real adult.
College has been very fun so far and I encourage all seniors to get away from Hanover and experience the world outside of Southeastern Mass. Being away from your family and current set of friends lets you find out who you really are and really grow as a person. I’ve only been at RPI for a month and I won’t be back to Hanover until Thanksgiving, so I have bit of time for “personal growth” still ahead of me.