4.5 out of 5 Stars
There are general requirements as well as major degree requirements, but we can design our own major. Each student is grouped with 5-10 others and assigned an academic advisor. Academic advisors are groups with 3-4 others into an extended advising family. Class sizes range from around 5 to around 90. Most classes are 20-30 people. Research opportunities are easy to obtain because the faculty is very accessible, the faculty are all well-versed in their fields and often others. Grading ranges from traditional to experimental. Study abroad is recommended. Work load seems to be higher than average.Quality of Life
It's awesome! Housing, dining and community are great. Safety is very high. I don't have to worry about cost.Admissions
Unique application, first cut goes to a Candidates' Weekend where interviews and group activities are done, and from those a final cut are selectedLevel
Multi and inter-disciplinary. Each student is exposed to the basic principles of mechanical, electrical and bio-engineering. There is also a set of entrepreneurship requirements as well as a required design curriculum that spans the traditional 4 years. Seniors are required to participate in a year long team-based consulting project with an outside sponsor who provides an objective and a budget.
The classes are collaborative and project based, with a "learn by doing" attitude. Class sizes are at most the size of your class - around 90 people, but can be as small as 2-3 students. Professors are extremely accessible, and each student is paired with a faculty adviser (of their choosing, if they wish). Olin maintains an active study abroad interchange with a number of academic institutions internationally, and students commonly choose to either study abroad or take their 3rd year off. The academic atmosphere is one of friendly competition where there is always room for collaboration. The workload is heavy, but peers and professors form a strong and understanding support network.Quality of Life
Spacious, clean dorms, containing doubles with private bathrooms or suites with 6 singles, 2 bathrooms and a common area. Superb facilities staff who are always willing to help out with odd requests. Librarians will go to the ends of the earth to track down publications for you. Excellent dining staff who are happy to accommodate food and event requests, and know you by name.
Not much interaction with the surrounding community except through community service outreach.Admissions
The process begins with a traditional paper or online application from which a group of 180 students are chosen for an invitation-only "candidate's weekend". During the weekend, the paper files for each applicant are closed, and the students are asked to participate in a series of group and individual activities and interviews. Students are evaluated on whether or not they would be a good fit culturally for Olin, and whether or not Olin would be a good fit for them. My incoming class was a group of around 78 students. A one-year deferral option is available.Graduation Year
We have some core requirements, such as biology and math, but the more liberal artsy parts are broader [with credit values that must be filled].Quality of Life
I love it. There's way too much that's great about this place.Admissions
We submit the common app, along with two supplementary essays. Then, we are accepted to candidate's weekend, in which we come up for a weekend to participate in group/individual interviews. This second process is to see whether our personalities fit with the school and current students. The students are a part of the interviewing process, and can give feedback based on interactions they have with students.Level
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
Housing is excellent and clean. Students have their own bathrooms in the dorms, and students are respectful of each other and each other's posessions.Admissions
Students are first admitted as candidates to a candidate's weekend, and then from that candidate pool, admitted students are selected.Level
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
Small class sizes, faculty who are leaders in their field and yet still willing to sit down and talk with you at a moments notice.Quality of Life
Best college food I have tasted, very safe campus, and nice, modern facilities.Admissions
Very interesting application questions, especially the one requiring a extra-curricular "passion". The Merit-based financial aid is also amazing.Graduation Year
Extremely hands-on and project-oriented.
Everything is done in teams. Everything.Quality of Life
The dorms are spacious and comfortable. The food is awesome. The library is small, but well-run and relevant to the school. There is no crime. The neighborhood is suburban, mostly wealthy, and very boring. Most students are very happy.Admissions
The school is on the common application with a number of unique essays.
Of all the applicants, a few hundred are selected to attend Candidates Weekend, where they participate in a round of team exercises and interviews. The final offers of admission are based on those interviews.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