4.5 out of 5 Stars
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's application is unique in that selected applicants are invited to "Candidate's Weekend"-a weekend where they get to know the school and the school gets to know them better. This is important because of the strong culture at Olin-there may be many academically qualified applicants who would not be happy at Olin, and they deserve a chance to understand that before making their decisions (likewise, Olin needs to see whether the "fit" is there for those applicants as well).Level
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
Rigorous, well-supported (academic advisors, community), small class sizes, very accessible and approachable professors, regular research opportunities, competitive - but also collaborative, +/- grading scale, study abroad and coop opportunities, generally a heavy workload.Quality of Life
Campus / Facilities: immaculate (new); Dining: limited but delicious; Neighborhood: suburb, safe, need a car to get into Boston or to get to public transportation.Admissions
Unique application questions; "Candidates Weekend" where selected candidates and their families are invited to see the campus, meet current students, faculty and staff, and have on-site group and individual interviews, 50% Tuition Scholarship awarded to all admited studentsGraduation Year
Unique stuff: Asked for a passion-related essay. The admission process is 2 steps. First, students do the standard application, essays, short questions and recommendation letters part. At this point Olin invites about twice as many students as they are looking for to a "candidate's weekend". This involves interviewing, group interviewing, some team-building exercises, etc and the students are then given a final decision.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
Unique application questions; all academically qualified candidates invited to campus for an in-person interview weekendGraduation 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
Olin dining is superb, very safe, in a college town, and overall very easy to live in.Admissions
At the time, there was no common application for Olin (I believe they have changed it in the last year). There is only regular decision, and admission staff pick "candidates" for admission. These candidates are then put through a rigorous evaluation program for two days on campus, and then some are offered admission. All students are offered a half-tuition scholarship on top of generous financial aid.Level
General requirements include a list of engineering, design, math, science, and arts/humanities/entrepreneurship classes. Then there requirements specific to your major. At Olin you are required to do what is called and Olin Self Study, Design Depth, and Concentration. A self study is a project you formulate on your own, a design depth is a 400 level class specific to design, and your concentration can either be in arts/humanities or entrepreneurship. Your concentration requires that you take a 400 level class in the specific field and complete a final project and paper. Olin is exceptional when it comes to offering unique classes such as design nature, user oriented design, modeling simulation, mechanical prototyping, mobile development, and modeling and control. The list could go on and on, but those are some of the most unique freshman and sophomore classes. Olin also has a unique partnership with Babson, Wellesley, and Brandeis which is excellent for students interested in business and entrepreneurship, language studies, and the arts. Classes a small which makes learning much easier. Faulty are wonderful and a therefore you 24/7 whether is be at their office or on their email. Students build such a strong connection with the faulty and their faulty advisers. We have a dedicated moth called faculty lunch, where faculty eat with students and get to know them even better. Olin has selected some of the best professors such as Yevgeniya Zastavker, Ben Linder, Jose Oscar-Mur-Miranda and Joanne Pratt. Research opportunities are huge at Olin - so many people do research with faulty or other in the local area both during the school year and during the summer. Olin has a program called SCOPE in which during senior students must complete a year-long, authentic engineering challenge sponsored by an established engineering or technology client. The project is funded through an educational grant from the sponsoring client/company. Though one might think Olin students are too busy for study abroad that is not the case - many students choose to study abroad their junior year and faulty and college advisers work with them such that they can make both study abroad and graduation work together. No doubt Olin course work is challenging and rigorous, but it prepares you for your future life as an engineer.Quality of Life
At Olin you are required to live in the dorms all 4 years. Since we only have 320 students there are two dorms. The dorms are great . Each double room has 2 beds, refrigerator and microwave, bathroom. The suites have 6 beds, 2 bathroom, refrigerator and microwave. Also there is a community kitchen in both dorms. Dining services are good - Olin has very good food in comparison to many other colleges. Library is a great environment to work. Overall, we have so much fun at Olin. The green energy club has about 50 restored bikes which students can use during a sunny day. We also have all sorts of unique activities throughout are campus. I love it!Admissions
Very unique - students apply early and are the selected for what is called candidates weekend, where they come to the college itself. During this weekend they participate in a group challenge with other candidates and go through an individual interview with a faulty professor and current students. Based on both their academic performance and social performance they are finally selected to attend the college. At Olin we find social skills and teamwork a key component of engineering, thus they are very important when final selections come around. Also, we only have 320 students total.Level