4.5 out of 5 Stars
Olin's academic program was very team and design focused. This was persistent through every class I took for four years. The requirements were demanding but within the expectations on the program. I had plenty of access to professors and research opportunities, but what meant a lot to me was the school's support for extracurricular activities, including design competitions. I also did a study abroad which was fantastic and really encouraged!Quality of Life
Cost of living was great, with the room scholarship and an open dining hall I could manage with just summer internships. The facilities were also brand new and I had access to the library, machine shop and labs almost 24 hrs a day. I don't recall any crime or safety issues, I coud leave my door unlocked all the time and felt safe.Admissions
Applying to Olin was very different from other colleges. I went to a one on one interview in DC, then to candidates weekend where I did a team interview, individual and team build exercise. I also got to meet professors, faculty and current students. I was put on the wait list and offered the option to defer a year which I planned to do until I got a call from the dean of admissions welcoming to the class that year. I also got a full scholarship for tuition and room as did the rest of my class.Graduation Year
Hands-on, project-based, design focused engineering education. Small class sizes. Amazing professors available for help, talk, fun, research, etc. Every accepted student is outstanding academically but once you arrive, grades are not often talked about. Cooperation and friendly competition. Focus on academic competencies and "learning how to learn" as opposed to memorization. Practical knowledge is more important than book knowledge. Allows for individual humanities focus. Senior capstone project in Engineering. Cross-registration at Babson, Wellesley, Brandeis.Quality of Life
Fabulous new dorms. Doubles with a bathroom or Suite of 6 singles and 2 bathrooms. Small campus. Fabulous library and librarians who go out of their way to help. Amazing dining hall food and friendly staff. Low crime. Felt incredibly safe. Everyone (students, faculty, staff) know each other. Happiest time of my life.Admissions
Application included essays about "Why Olin" and why I would be a good fit for the school. Candidate's Weekend for select applicants included team and individual interviews and a chance to get to know the school.
Tuition scholarship for all admitted students.Graduation Year
I am no longer aware of the general requirements.Quality of Life
Quality of life was wonderful. The student life group paid close attention and provided solutions to any issues.Admissions
The admission process did (and still does) require both a paper application and an in-person interview process. The in-person process requires the presence of a candidate (candidate = applicant who has passed the first cut and made it to the weekend) at Olin to interview both as a member of a team and as an individual. This extremely individualized focus helps to ensure that the individuals attending Olin are able to not just survive, but also thrive in the type of education provided.Graduation Year
Degree programs: Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE), Mechanical Engineering (ME), Engineering with a Concentration in
General requirements: vector calculus, intro biology, intro chemistry or another chemistry course, differential equations (most majors), linear algebra, one of several introductory writing courses, intro entrepreneurship, five or so additional arts/humanities/entrepreneurship courses
Go read the online student handbook for accurate, up-to-date information about requirements.
Advising varies widely depending on how much of it you want/need. I did not want/need much, so I met with my advisor only once per semester to review my schedule for the upcoming semester. Students who want more attention would not have trouble as long as they select an advisor with knowledge of their field and schedule meetings in advance to coordinate with the busy schedules of professors.
One entering or graduating class is typically around 80 +/- 10 students. One or two required first-year courses are offered once a year in one large section to the whole class at once. General requirement math classes tend to be offered in only one section per semester, meaning the average class size is around 80/2 = 40. Other general requirements, like biology and chemistry, are offered in two or three sections per semester, meaning the average class size is more like 80/5 = 16. Major requirements are typically of a similar size due to being offered in fewer sections per year and taken by a proportionally smaller number of students. Major electives are usually anywhere from 16 down to just a few students. 16-20 is typical for the vast majority of classes.
Professors are generally very accessible. Almost all professors are on a reciprocally first-name basis with all students from day one. Offices are publicly accessible at most hours, and professors are usually either in them or working elsewhere on campus. Many professors regularly eat lunch and sometimes dinner with students in the dining hall, and one or two live on campus with their families.
Olin students are very proud and protective of the non-competitive academic atmosphere. Sharing or asking about grades is taboo. Class members are not ranked at graduation or any other time.Quality of Life
Campus, housing, and facilities are new, spacious, and modern. Housing is in doubles with a private bathroom or in suites of six private bedrooms with two bathrooms among them. Buildings, floors, and suites are coed. After first year, students select their own roommates and rooms with preference given to more senior students and a random factor used to rank students within classes. Living cost is moderate, and/but dorm housing is mandatory for all students except in unusual circumstances.
Most meals are eaten at an on-campus dining hall and paid for with a flat-rate meal plan. The quality of the food is quite good, but the selection gets a little dull after three or four years of such constant exposure. Nearby restaurants are somewhat limited, but some good options do exist.
The Needham / Wellesley, MA area is very nice, however aside from the other colleges nearby (Wellesley, Babson), the atmosphere is small-town / suburban which is not what many college students are looking for. For example, most stores and restaurants in the immediate area close early, and neither Needham nor Wellesley allows bars.
Crime on campus is non-existent; even valuable possessions are safe in buildings and outside for extended periods.
If someone is unhappy at Olin it's usually not because of any of these factors but rather because he or she is working him- or herself too hard or have decided that engineering isn't for him or her.Admissions
Applicants complete a short addendum to the Common Application. A smaller group of candidates is selected from this applicant pool based on academic qualification and demonstrated fit. These candidates are invited to participate in one of three on-campus Candidates' Weekends where they will be evaluated by students, faculty, staff, and alumni through a series of group and individual interviews for their potential to fit into the community and work well with others. Academic qualification is not considered at this point. Candidates also have an extended opportunity to experience the culture of the school and learn more about the academic and other programs to inform their choice, should they be offered a spot in the incoming class. Many candidates are accepted outright following the conclusion of the last weekend, and those on the higher of two waiting lists are offered the option to defer one year and be placed in the next class without further application steps.
Due to Olin's small size, narrow academic curriculum, and unique approach to engineering education, prompts in both the written application and the interview process seek enthusiasm for these and other defining aspects of the school, which are valued highly.
Because the Olin curriculum requires and encourages teamwork, all candidates participate in a group activity exercise to help the interview team evaluate their aptitude for such cooperation. As might be expected, it is not necessary to lead the group to be considered a good team player, and in fact those candidates who are most perceptive of and responsive to the group dynamic as a whole are easy to recognize whether they are leading the discussion or merely contributing.
A merit-based scholarship which covers half of the cost of tuition is awarded to each student who enrolls. The school is committed to meeting demonstrated need beyond this amount up to the full cost of attendance, but like similar offers at many schools, demonstrated need is calibrated by FAFSA with the assumption of significant sacrifices on the part of the student and his or her family.Graduation Year
We're all engineering majors, but that really doesn't describe us. We have an amazingly diverse student body especially relating to individual talents and interests. Classes are generally very hands-on, project-based, and team-based. The professors generally go by their first name and regularly hang out with students in the dining hall to have informal conversations over lunch.Quality of Life
At the end of my freshman year, I know 95% of the students by name. We're really close and we look out for each other. it's almost like a big family.Admissions
We use the CommonApp with two supplement essays. Out of more than 1000 applicants, the best ~200 are selected and brought to the campus for a weekend. This "candidates weekend" includes activities for fun and for evaluation. Once you get to candidates weekend, all of the candidates can handle the academics, it's now a matter of fit. You get a good idea of what the college is like and we get an idea of what you're like.Level
Olin has a two-stage admissions process. The first stage is the traditional admissions process with essays, transcripts, etc. The second stage is a Candidate's Weekend, when about twice as many students as will be admitted are invited to campus for interviews, design challenges, and to interact with one another and the current students. The second phase is key, because it evaluates whether the student is a fit for the community.Graduation Year
cost for housing and dining hall is high, but the community is the best I've ever experienced.Admissions
unique application essays, optional interview; mandatory attendance of Candidates' Weekend, individual interview, group interviewLevel
Few general requirements which are unrelated to the major. Small class sizes (some as small as ~5). High contact with faculty. Innovative teaching style, limited lectures. Many research opportunities for students of all years. Students work collaboratively on projects in most classes. Limited busywork.Quality of Life
Excellent housing and facilities. Food good, used to be better. Honor code means virtually no crime whatsoever. Students work hard but are overall very happy. Campus facilities very open to students.Admissions
Unique application including essays, then visits and interviews to determine final admission. Originally full-scholarship, now half-scholarship for all students. Candidates are brought to the school for a weekend to experience the school and for final selections to be made.Level
Collaborative, hands-on group projects focused on understanding and exploring the fundamental principles behind Engineering and Engineering DesignQuality of Life
Amazing. It's like home.Admissions
Standard form app, with two unique essays. After that, Admissions selects the top applicants to all come back to the campus for interviews and group exercises in a Candidate's Weekend, after which final admission decisions are made.Graduation Year