4.5 out of 5 Stars
Engineering is the focus of the school, though students receive a strong background in business and the humanities tooQuality of Life
Beautiful facilities that are well-maintained and foster a productive and fun learning environmentAdmissions
In addition to standard application requirements, there's an on-campus weekend full of interviews, group activities, and teamwork exercises.Graduation Year
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
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
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
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 has much fewer core engineering requirements than other engineering programs (6 specific major classes as opposed to 12). However, Olin has very many interdisciplinary requirements- an integrated course block, controls, mechatronics, and a full design stream. We also have a senior capstone course that involves consulting for a company, and a required humanities or entrepreneurship capstone.
The course sizes are generally very small. The academic advising program matches each student to an advisor, but many students talk to lots of faculty about their course of study. Professors and research are always available.
Grades is not a strong factor at Olin. Olin is about LEARNING, and has pass/no record for the first semester. While students do strive for high academic achievement, some are more or less motivated by grades (moreso when they intend to go to a graduate program after Olin).
Oliners are not competitive. While they are all very capable and smart, the team nature of many projects and classes mean that Oliners help each other along with work. There is a strong honor code that means students do not cheat, but work together to help each other understand concepts and homework.Quality of Life
Everyone is required to live on campus and be on the meal plan. This is a bit pricier than at other schools because of the very high-quality, nice, well done dorms, and because having so few students makes it difficult to support a meal plan. Overall, there is a positive relationship between Needham and Olin students. The dorms are very sociable and many students like to live in them.Admissions
Olin has a two tiered admissions process- a standard paper application (I believe we now accept Common App or our own App.. when I applied it was just our own App)- that application includes essays, test scores, and the usual information one uses while applying for college. Evaluating that allows us to invite about 240 students to campus for a weekend of a design build exercise, and individual and group interviews. At this weekend we filter by how well we think students "fit" with Olin, and Olin "fits" with students.Graduation Year
Being such a new school, Olin's academics change quickly (or at least they did while I was there). Since I haven't attended Olin in almost 4 years, my comments about *my* academic experience there would mean very little to a student considering Olin now, except to say that the academics are likely still top-notch, energy-filled, and cooperative. "Competitiveness" in the sense of student versus student never entered into my educational experience; we were always working together.Quality of Life
The dorms, especially East Hall, are wonderful. Cost of living has changed quite a bit since my time there. The campus and facilities are all fairly new, so they're fairly state of the art, especially compared to Engineering programs at large universities. The library is small, but highly electronically connected. When I was there, the librarians were super helpful. The dining hall was better than can be imagined. Seriously, just drop by sometime for a meal. They win awards. There was an energy and a cooperativeness at Olin that made it a wonderfully happy place to struggle together and earn a degree. Laptops were left out in hallways, never stolen, people worked together on labs late into the night, never working "against" each other, and people would cooperate to do really great things.Admissions
One essay question that remained constant through my year, the year previous, and all the years I attended Olin College was something to the effect of "What is your passion?" I have heard since I applied that the school wanted to make sure its applicants were passionate about *something* other than just computers, engineering, math, etc. - something bigger-picture, applicable to life in general (even if it was "math, as applied to...").
Candidates' weekend is fairly unique to Olin College. If no one else describes it for you, I highly suggest you look it up on the Olin website, or you may contact me for more details at gjemmott at gmail.Graduation Year
The class sizes tend to be small and the faculty are highly accessible. There are usually opportunities to do research on campus, but the number of projects available are usually few. The curriculum is project-based and there is a lot of team work.Admissions
Some aspects of the admission process are fairly standard. A student must take SATs, write essays, fill out a general application and provide letters of recommendation. One of the unique features of the Olin admission process is the Candidate Weekend when a select number of applicants are invited to campus for a weekend-long experience. During this time, students take part in team building activities, interviews and get to know more about Olin. All admitted students are currently offered a half-tuition scholarship and additional financial aid is available. Those students placed on the wait list, have the option of taking a year off and attending Olin the following year.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
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