The Stevens Institute of Technology
The Stevens Institute of Technology - Comments and Student Experiences|
After about a year of completion here at Stevens Tech, I am left in much confusion and dismay as there are so many things around me here that aren't bad per se, but can be much better. However, it's one of those places that is unique in its own right and will be hard to leave (or find anywhere else). Let me explain how I came to this and why you (the reader) might come to the same conclusion.
This is a long read, but I hope it's detailed enough.
A lot of students consider the physical environment of the school to be a grand importance. Stevens gets a bare plus here mainly because of its history. The administration (more on that later) decided wisely to keep a lot of historical elements of the school, such as the Edwin A. Stevens Building, as well as new modernistic styles to fit the times. However, the problem with that is that they don't quite blend together. The older facilities, such as (most) dorms, are left just that --- old and waiting to break down before repair. Many of the bathrooms are using quite old equipment and the freshman dorms are definitely in need of a maintenance upgrade. Only one of the freshman dorms have air conditioners (more to come in about ten years time), and none have their own personal kitchens (except one to cook things in --- obviously). The upperclassmen dorms, however, are quite nice and have all of the necessary commodities available in the room (bathroom, kitchen, etc.).
Even though Stevens has a very small influence outside of New Jersey, it is, in fact, a powerhouse engineering school that concentrates on (almost) nothing but that. The engineering programs are stellar, leaving many options for all types of engineering, from the more common ones such as Mech. Eng. to the absolutely obscure like Underwater Basket Weaving. However, I said almost because Stevens is also trying to develop an equally powerful (and probably more noticed) Business school. It has received top ranks worldwide, and has produced a lot of successful graduates (as well as a lot of female entrants). It is somewhat new, however it is a powerful force.
There are two tidbits here, though. Firstly, as far as engineering cirricula goes, the teachers are mostly non-English speaking professors. You will have an easy time understanding them for some (Chemistry, for example) and a not-so-easy time for others (Calculus). However, despite their language proficiency, most of them are experts at what they do, graduating from high-ranked colleges and universities worldwide. If you are here to learn, you will not be disappointed, unless, of course, you are also here for other things.
Secondly is the humanities program. The humanities program here is mediocre, to say the least. There are a handful of professors that are well qualified to teach an in-depth and worthwhile humanities course such as Writing or History. However, the majority of them fall far behind this characteristic, making one question how they got there in the first place (probably due to the fact that a humanities program is required to be accredited). A perfect example of this is my Writing professor who frequently came late to class to offer NO writing lessons whatsoever (no grammar, no basics, nothing).
However, Stevens has an agreement to allow (certain) humanities courses at New York University serve as replacement credit. Therefore, one gets not only the engineering education from Stevens, but the world-renowned humanities program only found at the College of Arts and Sciences at NYU. Be careful of the people there, though; a lot of them are hard to come by without flashing a $20.
It is also worth mentioning that the Stevens Cooperative Educatino program is one of the strongest in the country, almost guaranteeing high-performance jobs to EVERY student who does it as well as invaluable experience at a very early stage.
This is a huge danger zone that prospecting Stevens entrants should watch out for. Stevens Tech is AN ENGINEERING SCHOOL, not a STATE UNIVERSITY, therefore expect a lack of girls, clubbing, partying, and the like. I must say that the girl issue is slowly (but painfully) resolving itself, since the ratio of females to males has improved every year significantly.
However, that problem still has not solved the quickly boring fraternity parties, ill-advertised club events, etc. Even rather huge events like Knicks games and Broadway plays receive little fanfare simply because many like being home rather than doing other things.
Also, I cannot comment of lifelong friends because it's hard to predict how I will make out in five years, however as a freshman, expect a slight change in what you've seen in high school. The dating scene is rather low, anti-socials are prominent here (You probably will not meet a portion of your freshman class simply because they don't come out), and cliques form as rapid as bacteria and are not as easy to join into them.
In short, if you are a male aspiring to come here, do not expect to be changing girlfriends every week unless you can manage changing girlfriends with rather shallow (or inexperienced) girls. However, a female here (I believe) has a good chance of finding someone to be with, intelligent or otherwise.
Hoboken, NJ is small, very small (nearly 3 sq. miles). However, if you are over 21, Hoboken has the world to offer. Finding a bar or club is extremely easy, and there are many ways to enjoy your night.
However, if you are under 21, New York City is also pretty close (about 15 minutes on the PATH train), giving nearly limitless activities to do on a random weekend or a break from studying. However, be prepared to spend at least $20 to $30 minimum over there, mostly on food and transportation (railfanning from New Jersey costs $30 each time).
Stevens Tech is a Division III school, however the sports teams and programs probably play just as hard as a Division I team. Our volleyball, baseball, and basketball teams, for example, have won a huge majority of state and intercollegiate championships since its advent in the early 20th century. Stevens is also very popular for the fierce Lacrosse team, which has been going strong ever since 1904 (which is also the year where the first Lacrosse match has ever been played on a college level).
However, once again, the turnout of games is low becuase (a) we are a small private school and (b) the huge influx of home-returning students on weekends.
Stevens Technical Enrichment Program (STEP)
If you are a minority reading this, I would pay attention here, since quite a bit of minorities are accepted through this group. STEP is basically a program to promote the furtherment of Hispanic and Afro-American engineers in the American workplace. They do that by allowing some "exceptions" to the admissions rule (lowering SAT standards, GPA standards, pre-requisites, etc.) and making one take a six-week Bridge program which covers most of the first-semester courses in depth.
If you are an open-minded individual that likes to be around his or her own people, then you will like this program. You meet a lot of people that will struggle as much as you will, as well as help you when in need. It is almost like a self-established family. You will (possibly) see yourself closely associating with your STEP friend well into real college life, which to most seems like the better alternative.
HOWEVER, if you are like me and try to be open-minded, yet open to other races and people (and try to avoid the stereotypical image of "The Hispanic Man,") then I would avoid the STEP Program (unless it's conditional, in which you aren't left with much choice). It started okay (dated someone in the program, met close friends at the meetings, etc.), but then quickly hit a deep decline right in the middle of the program. Most STEP students are in a HUGE clique, which in turn forms subsets of cliques. Furthermore, the program tries to push the element of multi-culturalism and diversity straight into your face like prison food, and you have to accept it at the end in order to "graduate" from the program. Finally, and probably the most damning part of the entire experience, is that NONE (absolutely none) of the classes are credited towards anything. They are meant to "prepare" one for the real college life, therefore cannot be counted as credit (which, to me, almost seemed like a very loose answer as to why STEP isn't a remedial program, being that a lot of the students are missing the initial pre-requisites to get in in the first place).
I am slightly bias against the principle of the STEP Bridge program, however it is an opportunity for many people and did help bring success for many who attended it. I recommend that you do your research; go to the meetings, talk to the directors, and review before you regret. Who knows; you might just find a pretty girl at those meetings like I did :-).I was asked if I would go elsewhere had I been given a chance. I also said that this school is a very hard school to detach oneself from, as the reasons above show. However, I would probably have chosen somewhere else where studying does not becmoe the most entertaining thing to do on my Friday nights. Nearly every night, I am alone in my dorm room either studying or wondering where to study. Furthermore, every day being on this campus is a somewhat depressing one, as I look around and imagine how much different things might have been at Penn State, even if I would have gotten into the Engineering program a bit later. Therefore, for the sake of happiness, if I had the chance, I would have gone to a bigger university like Penn State or Georgia Tech, where my social life is at least a bit more guaranteed. However, don't let my experience dissuade you; if you are serious about the quality of your education and can sacrifice some social aspects of your life that can be made up later, then I would look no further than Stevens.
Since this might run long, I'll summarize my opinion about this school here: it's academics and (local) reputation are strong (but weaker compared to previous years), housing and dining is okay, but attaining a social life is what one makes of it.
Stevens is, first and foremost, an institute for the sciences and engineering. These programs are very well-established, and there are many outlets for research opportunities if that is desired. Additionally, many Stevens graduates are favored in the workplace and have helped Stevens establish a very strong corporate presence.
Furthermore, the first two years are usually the "deciding" years for most engineering and science students. While the load has been trimmed significantly since I entered, it is still enough coursework to bring about pain and suffering for many. Business and arts students follow different curricula, which I hear is pretty tough.
Students begin to enter their discipline by the third-year, and it is usually by then that deficiencies start to show themselves. While the ECE department at Stevens has a sizable amount of talented and accomplished professors and lecturers, almost ALL of them are involved in incredible amounts of research and side work. This usually means that courses are taken much less seriously than expected, and are much easier than they ought to be. Fortunately, the variety of topics taught in ECE is pretty acceptable, and one can choose to follow a hardware- or software-specific path without having to enter the disciplines dedicated to each (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, respectively).
COOPERATIVE EDUCATION AND INTERNSHIPS:
Stevens is one of eleven schools in the nation that provides a well-established cooperative education plan. Students involved in "co-op" work full-time jobs approximately every other semester, and have the option to graduate in five years instead of four to work an extended two-term period.
As a participant of this program, I have found Co-op to be an invaluable component of my academic and undergraduate career at Stevens. Having worked at several different large companies not only helped me build a foundation of experience, but have also "forced" me to mature as an individual and as a professional. Additionally, many indispensable skills not taught in college can be learned during co-op, such as networking and adapting to corporate culture. If anything, co-op helps students build impressive resumes and substantially improve their chances at landing equally exceptional jobs post-graduation or during their senior year.
I highly encourage any prospective engineering student to seriously consider joining this program. It adds an incredible amount of value to the degree. Unfortunately, there are much fewer co-op opportunities for science majors, but they are there. If co-op is not an option, Stevens has many wonderful programs to help students land great internships or similar arrangements.
STUDENT BODY AND CAMPUS LIFE:
The student body here is very diverse; significantly more so since I entered. The founding of the Business and Technology and the expansion of the Art/Music majors helped diversify the student pool, as well as contribute nicely to life on campus (though not by much). I no longer live on campus, but during the two years that I did, most students were friendly and easy-going. There is very little competitive tension here, as most people help each other get by.
There are quite a few small extracurricular groups on campus, which bond very closely and usually have very nice activities to participate in. The Entertainment Council does a great job at hosting off-campus activities, such as Broadway plays, basketball games and comedy shows (which run the gamut, but have been pretty good lately).
Additionally, there are a few fraternities and sororities that host several parties and school-related groups. Most of them are very accepting of different personalities, and none of them practice hazing (that I know of). Being involved in a fraternity can do wonders to spicing up on-campus life, and help people make life-long friends and/or business partners. There is also the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, which has a very strong national network and an even stronger influence in Stevens, but may not be for everyone. Habitat for Humanity engages in very similar service activities, but at a lower and more specific scale.
Finally, there are many social opportunities to be had in Hoboken and New York City. While most of the venues in the home city cater those 21 years and older, there are many places in New York that are suitable for wider audiences. Many free park concerts and attractions happen during the summer months, and there are TONS of small cafes in the City, if that might be an interest to anyone (not including Starbucks et al.).
Most students go back home on the weekends, but these should keep most people busy when free from study. :)
ON-CAMPUS HOUSING AND MEAL PLAN:
Stevens housing has expanded dramatically since I entered. Several years ago, I disapproved of the options available, as many of the dormitories were running on the older side. Some bathrooms (particularly in Hayden Hall) were often left uncleaned in the weekends, which made for interesting visits on Saturday mornings. Rooms were also small, just like many college campus halls.
However, major improvements were made in the last two years to address this. Most of the new dormitories acquired are actually old apartments and suites, which brought much bigger rooms, increased privacy, great kitchens and higher pricetags. Some of the newer facilities are quite distant from the school, with one requiring a shuttle to commute between points. In addition, a new LEED-Silver certified dormitory is being built right on-campus and might be ready soon.
Another unfortunate consequence of these changes is that all but one of the meal plans available to students has been cut to control costs. All students living on-campus must have an "Ultimate Access" meal plan, which provides (nearly) unlimited meals and $100 "Duckbills" (currency provided by Stevens which can be used in supported businesses around Hoboken). When I lived on campus two years ago, there were several options for meal plans that not only provided more Duckbills, but were also much less expensive across the board.
The dining facilities are well-kept, and the selection in Pierce is usually satisfying and is cheaper than most restaurants in Hoboken (during dinnertime). Colonel John's Restaurant (which is "supposed" to be a Sports "Bar," but fails badly at identifying itself as one) makes great sandwiches, but the pre-packaged salads are a bit tart.
America's Cup, the on-campus cafe, offers the usual coffee drinks found at most Starbucks locations with the same quality. There is also a coffee bar in the Burchard building on 6th Street, which makes the same drinks on the spot. The snacks are a bit unappealing (at least to me), and the fruits have sometimes been a few hours old, but nothing too serious.
I know very little about athletics at Stevens, but from having seen some games, it's almost exactly what you'd expect from a Divison III school. If you've got pro talent, the pros aren't here. We have a very successful cycling team, though!
Many alumni advise prospective students that college is what one makes of it. I didn't fully understand this adage, and most first-year students will not have had enough experience to appreciate it. However, most people that take advantage of what's made available and remember to work hard (and play harder) will come to really like and appreciate Stevens. Most that don't either transfer or land up hating it. It's a great school, and I mostly enjoyed my time here, but it's up to YOU as the reader to make it great.Thanks for reading.
Basically, we learn theory, history, and other parts of music. We learn a bit about production and other media also. This all sounds rather good and productive, but it doesn't actually get you to a job you may think.
The program is new, therefore, there aren't too many graduates to base the success of the program off of. The ones who have been placed in jobs, however, aren't showing too much promise for it. I came looking to get a job somewhere in production, but due to how the industry is, getting a degree isn't enough. Getting into this industry is extremely hard, and the career service department here can't help too much.
So, if you're looking to graduate with a job in production, you will likely be disappointed. Graduates have jobs working in second-rate magazines, for local music departments, and others.
If you're looking for an easy major, music and technology is great. Engineers are often jealous of our easy schedules and "classes," most of which give little to no homework. We do have to take Stevens-required courses such as programming, which will serve no use to us and are a waste of money.
The social life here is rather lacking because engineers have so much work, so be prepared to be bored often. It's fun having free time, and, depending on what you make of free time, can be beneficial. Having Hoboken and New York so close cures boredom.
I came here expecting a somewhat normal college experience close to the city, since city colleges are a different experience, but I haven't gotten it. Most people here aren't too outwardly friendly, and there's only a slight campus feel with little school spirit. I love this school for the location, but otherwise, it's hard for a social person to be here. The only parties are in frats, and for the most part, are rather lame. Our entertainment committee sets up a few really fun things, but most events have low attendance due to the fact that most kids would rather sit on their computers or have homework to do.So, for those looking into the music program, I'd ask those in charge of the program MANY questions about job placement and prospects. Otherwise, you may come here and realize your thousands of dollars are going toward what you don't expect.
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