Impressions Of
University of Rochester

Academic Experience

Female Electrical and Computer Engineering Major C/O 2021

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
Rochester is unique in that [there is an open curriculum]. You don’t have prescribed courses you have to do. Engineering is a little more laid out for you, like there’s a recommended course load. Every course you have a lab. The engineering courses will always have lab. We also have a thing called the workshop, which is pretty cool. For math we have recitation and we have web-work, so online homework. For engineering, we have problem sets that will sometimes be due in one week or sometimes be due in three weeks, or sometimes even a project.

Male Financial Economics and Behavioral Neuroscience Double Major C/O 2018

Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s competitive or collaborative?
Behavioral Neuroscience is definitely more collaborative. I did a lot more work on my own in Financial Economics. It’s something that you can just teach yourself and compare yourself with textbooks. I would say that a large proportion of the Economics and Finance departments are foreign students, and, for a lot of them, English isn’t their first language so it’s kind of hard to collaborate and study with them. Of the people I got to know through Greek life, I stuck with them and took a lot of courses with them. The Behavioral Neuroscience department was a more collaborative group. Everyone knew each other and was more involved in research and stuff outside of class, so there were a lot more familiar faces to reach out to. [In the 2018-2019 academic year, 37% of first-year students are from foreign countries.]

Male International Relations Major C/O 2021

Is there anything you feel the International Relations department does especially well or especially poorly?
There is a lot of support in terms of guidance and advising. I don’t think it’s necessarily just the International Relations department. The professors always have office hours, so everybody is more than welcome to go and meet with them beyond the classroom. This helps a lot of students with questions they may not be confident enough to ask in class. They are good at helping you get into programs and writing recommendation letters.

How accessible have the professors in your department been?
Very accessible. You get a syllabus in every class telling you when their office hours are. I haven’t had a professor yet where they haven’t made themselves available. If they are not available, there is a TA who also has office hours.

Social Opportunities

Female Electrical and Computer Engineering Major C/O 2021

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
There are some clubs in the city of Rochester which are 18+, which is pretty cool. There’s also just frat parties. If you’re on a sports team or in Greek life you get access to mixers and those will be between groups on campus. If you want to find it you can find it, but if you don’t want to find it you can just ignore it.

Has being a person that identifies as Queer influenced your nightlife at all?
Not really, this is a pretty open campus and a pretty liberal campus. It’s also substantially gay. If you kiss somebody who’s the same gender as you, no one is going to really care. The rugby team mixes with a lot of fraternities and, generally, the guys that we do mix with are pretty cool and respect us.

Male Financial Economics and Behavioral Neuroscience Double Major C/O 2018

How happy are you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
Freshman year I was still finding my crowd, especially when I hadn’t started pledging yet. But once I got involved in Greek life I loved it. I wouldn’t change anything about it. It’s certainly not a party school, people there are really serious. Everyone is really smart, pretty driven, and really interesting. I really liked my high school because there weren’t a bunch of [stereotypical “bros”] or people that were just [mean] to people. Rochester was nice because nobody was that cool. Everyone still went to U of R which is a super nerdy school, but you could still find a lot of people you could have a lot of fun with.

Male Linguistics and Computer Science Double Major C/O 2019

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I’ve always been partial to the “low-ish key house party with a group of friends” nightlife, if you can even call it that, rather than going to clubs or bars for the purpose of drinking itself. I’ve been happy with that and that’s mostly the function of having found a couple of different friends that I’m quite fond of.

How happy are you with the weekend activities on campus? Is there anything you would change if you could?
For me, the nightlife was totally enough. If you want clubs and things like that there’s a couple in the heart of downtown. Overall, my needs were definitely met. You could go over and under what kind of wildness you’re looking for and still be pretty pleased. There was sufficient Greek life on campus, fraternity parties were a pretty regular thing, so it always seemed to me that there was something for everyone. [21% of undergraduates join Greek life.]

Campus Culture

Male Financial Economics and Behavioral Neuroscience Double Major C/O 2018

How did you meet your closest friends?
A couple of them were on my freshman hall and then through Greek life. Not even just my fraternity, but meeting guys through other fraternities and stuff.

How would you describe the student body?
Really diverse. Pretty serious. Nobody has ever said, “Oh yeah, I want to go to U of R because of the parties,” so people go there for the education. People are studious and take their work seriously. And it’s a very international school. I would say there was a single class where there weren’t people speaking at least a few different languages participating.

Male Linguistics and Computer Science Double Major C/O 2019

How would you describe the social scene?
It’s never struck me as anything unique in that it’s kind of cliquish, which I think most colleges are, there’s Greek life, and there are house shows for musical acts. There are lots of nerds because it’s really research-driven and it’s really STEM heavy. There’s a reasonable amount of overlap, I know a lot of people who move pretty easily through all three of those circles. [77% of undergraduates participate in research.]

How do you like the size of University of Rochester in terms of undergraduate enrollment?
The school is just under 6,000 people, so I really like the size because it’s just enough that you don’t know everyone, but it is enough that you’ll see a lot of the same faces in different places, which for me is kind of comforting. I really like the size and how it’s made the social environment feel. You’re not getting lost in a sea of people and meeting new people all the time.

Male International Relations Major C/O 2021

To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
We mix to a large extent. It’s a very liberal campus, and people don’t discriminate against each other. I have friends of all sorts of sexual orientations, religions, and ethnicities. [The undergraduate population is 5% Black, 11% Asian, 7% Hispanic, and 42% White.]

To what extent do you feel international students mix with domestic students?
Not to a large extent. One of the largest troubles I’ve had is trying to build a bridge between the international and domestic student divide. Although things have become better, a lot has to be done to really be good together. I don’t know exactly why international students tend to stick with each other. Maybe they find a level of comfort. It’s not that every international student doesn’t mix with domestic students, but on a large scale that’s the case. [In Fall 2018, 37% of first-year students are from foreign countries.]

Rochester, NY

Pros of

  • “The summers are amazing. I spent a summer doing research and it was great. There are plenty of markets and open concerts.”
  • “For being all the way in upstate New York, it’s fairly well connected. There are enough other places within reasonable distances that it’s easy to get away for a long weekend. You can go to Toronto, Buffalo, Syracuse, and you can get down to New York City in a day. If you have the wherewithal and a car, you can get around to a lot of different places.”
  • “The university’s location is not directly in the city. You can have that suburban feel while being close to the city where there is shopping, food, and all those good things.”

Cons of

  • “There are really terrible snow and terrible cold. There are four seasons in Rochester, but winter is almost six months of the year. You should be ready to tolerate a lot of cold for an inordinate amount of time.”
  • “It’s not a great city to have to navigate without a car.”
  • “It’s not the safest city in the world. There are places in the city you don’t really want to go.”

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Female Electrical and Computer Engineering Major C/O 2021

What is something that a student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Inside the Rush Rees library, just get lost in there you will find lots of interesting things. In particular, the Great Hall, instead of hanging out in the lobby area, go into the Great Hall and take a left and there is a rare books and collections library that is set up like a museum. If it is open, check it out. It’s very cool.

Male Financial Economics and Behavioral Neuroscience Double Major C/O 2018

What is something you wish you knew about Rochester before entering as a freshman?
I was definitely a little freaked out when I showed up at first and everyone was super nerdy. I didn’t think I was going to have a lot of fun and I thought the fraternities were kind of lame. Just get involved and know that it doesn’t have to be the big state school party scene to have a great time.

What is something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
People definitely find their groups and their social scene and it may be hard to see that because there’s no real school spirit. So it may seem like everyone is there just to take classes, but if you stay there long enough you will realize how many social groups there are that are closely knit, like sports teams or fraternities.

Male Linguistics and Computer Science Double Major C/O 2019

What is something you wish you knew about Rochester before entering as a freshman?
I think it’s hard to get a sense of the academics and the support structure that surrounds the academics when you come on a college visit. I find that the professors are very engaged and they’re very attentive to student needs. I’ve had good experiences with the counseling office and the on-campus therapy services have been really useful. They do a lot to make themselves known, but I suspect they don’t do enough. So, knowing that college is a tough time for everyone emotionally, intellectually and mentally, I am very glad to have found the resources I have, and I think it would have been helpful to know about them a little bit sooner than I did to really use them to the fullest.

Male International Relations Major C/O 2021

What is something you wish you knew about Rochester before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew not to take 200 level classes my freshman year. I would have taken it slow, taking the general introductory level classes and building my way up the next year. I didn’t know this, so I was too confident per se. I would advise freshman to take it slow and start off with the general 100 classes. If you hurt your GPA in the beginning, it’ll take more effort to bring it back up.

Reasons to attend and not to attend University of Rochester

To Attend

  • “It has a free curriculum. You only have to take Writing 105.”
  • “Access to professors and research is really, really easy. I had friends who worked in labs their freshman fall. I also have friends who are friends with professors and got their first internship just by asking. All of the doors are open.”
  • “It’s a good size and it’s on the edge of a city without being engulfed by one. If you want that campus feeling where you feel a little bit separate from the area around you, that’s good.”
  • “It’s a great community. There are a lot of smart and interesting people.”

To Not Attend

  • “If you’re susceptible to seasonal depression, it’s not the place for you. It’s very hard academically and, if you haven’t seen the sun in a couple of days, you’re probably not going to want to be here.”
  • “There is no school spirit. If you’re looking to be on a sports team, nobody is going to go to your games no matter how good you are.”
  • “If you’re expecting a huge, crazy party scene, it’s not going to be that.”
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