Students

The Arch is a unique approach to your education that provides flexibility in your semester schedule, allowing you to pursue professional and personal development opportunities that will prepare you to meet the multifaceted challenges of the 21st century.

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How it Works

Rising juniors will attend a full summer semester, The Arch, between their sophomore and junior years. Juniors then spend a The Arch Semester Away (SASA) during either the fall or spring semester of their junior year, still only taking 8 semesters to graduate.

Students in the Class of 2021 will be required to participate in The Arch program in summer 2019. There is an exception process for athletes, ROTC, and a few other select cases.

Graduate in Four Years

With the exception of students in the five-year bachelor of architecture program, matriculation to degree completion is not intended to take more than eight terms at Rensselaer. To accelerate your academic progress, and graduate in fewer than eight semesters, you may take classes elsewhere prior to enrollment at Rensselaer, obtain AP/IB credit from high school, take summer courses in subsequent summers, study abroad during the away semester, or some combination of these options.

Academic Semester Experience
* option for an "away" semester

YEAR FALL SPRING SUMMER
Freshman Required Required Optional
Sophmore Required Required Required
Junior * * Optional
Senior Required Required Graduate

Architecture Students

YEAR FALL SPRING SUMMER
Freshman Required Required Optional
Sophmore Required Required Optional
Junior Required Required Required
Senior * * Optional
5th Year Required Required Graduate
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Career Considerations

Pursue your passion during The Arch and get ahead of the competition by building a unique portfolio of professional experience that will propel your career. Whether you are interested in graduate school, attaining a position in industry, or would like to pursue an opportunity in the healthcare field, the robust academic experience that The Arch offers will lead you in the right direction while formulating a strategic plan of study to accomplish your goals.

Healthcare Professions

An increased demand for physicians is expected in the coming decade. There are also serious shortages of dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, and many other health professionals.  At Rensselaer we provide the fundamental education in a variety of majors that will build the foundation for continuing your studies beyond a BS degree to become the health professional of your choice.   The Arch will provide a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a health professional experience and increase your chances of admission to health graduate schools. 

First Year Planning

Make a plan of study in your first year that includes AP credits and the start of your curriculum.  If you are ahead in your curriculum, it becomes easier to put in prehealth courses either during the semesters or, if you are ahead in your departmental requirements, several prehealth courses are offered during The Arch semester.  Consider these options in building your academic experience. If you are in a department with a pre-health advisor, then consider interacting with the advisor early on while planning your curriculum.

The Arch Planning:  There are two key things that you can do to improve your chances of admission to a health related graduate school (besides getting a high GPA). 

  1. Participate in undergraduate research while at Rensselaer (http://info.rpi.edu/undergraduate-research).  Find research as medically relevant as possible. Approximately 85% of students applying to medical school have some research experience.  Academic year experiences on campus or summer experiences at other institutions will both be useful.  If there are clinical applications, even better.
  2. Get The Arch semester away position in a healthcare related area.  Depending upon the state, it is often easy to gain employment in a hospital as a Patient Care Technician (PCT) or even as a phlebotomist.  You could take courses to become an EMT and gain experience on an ambulance crew.  You can also find a position in a biomedical company.  Check out joblink.  Be certain that the job involves some patient interaction or add volunteer work along with the job.  We also have special programs with Albany Medical College, Mt. Sinai Medical School, and the NY Center for Disability Services for Away Semester Research. Some examples of special programs can be found here.

Junior year planning:  Continue interacting with the PreHealth Committee run through ALAC (http://info.rpi.edu/advising-learning-assistance/advising/#PreMedicalandPreHealthAdvising).

If you haven’t done any research yet, consider finding a research position.  Assess where you are academically and with regard to your major and your prehealth courses.  Do you need to focus on coursework or are you light on experiences that have people interactions (medical and non-medical) and leadership positions.  There are no right or wrong activities.  Follow your interests.  If you are interested in sports, help at the YMCA/YWCA or the Boy’s/Girls Club.  Become a tutor or a peer academic mentor on campus or work with underprivileged youth in the Troy school system to help with their studies.  The options are only limited by your imagination.

Timeline for applying to medical or other prehealth professional schools:  The generally recommended timeline is to be prepared to take the MCAT in the summer after the junior year.  Typically students apply to, and interviewing at, health professional schools during the senior year. However, if you want additional experience then you can apply after you complete your undergraduate degree program.  The PreHealth committee will advise you and work with you to optimize your application-even after you have graduated. 

Industrial Careers

Careers in Industry:

A career in industry can include everything from starting a small company, or working for a small company, to joining a large international corporation.  While you may know already whether you want to work for a large or small company, it is always valuable to experience both.  The Arch is a great way to explore an industry experience.

Rensselaer has strong relationships with more than 500 hundred companies in a wide range of industries and locations across the country (See the Center for Career and Professional Development - CCPD).   In addition, the Severino Center currently plans to support a small number of student teams during The Arch Semester Away to further their ambitions of starting their own company.  Your advisors, parents, alumni, and contacts back home may also be great resources for you as you continue your industry search.  Don’t hesitate to apply for many opportunities to maximize and diversify your choices.

Note: Many companies require a minimum GPA of 3.0 for an internship, while other companies tend to be more flexible focusing on other components of a candidate’s application.  Keep this in mind as you continue your academic coursework each semester. Raising your GPA might increase your ability to land a future opportunity!

First Year:

The CCPD staff encourages underclassmen to engage in their services, programs, and workshops early and often. Students may schedule an individual appointment with a Career Counselor to work on writing your first resume or discussing your internship search (among other things).  In addition, the CCPD has daily walk-in hours that are designed for you receive an answer to a quick question you might have.  The CCPD staff is ready to work with you in many capacities. From resume critiques to mock interviews, the Staff is committed to helping you achieve career success.

  • FOCUS2 is a career assessment tool and inventory that can help you figure out your career interests.  You can find more information about FOCUS2 on the CCPD website and the CCPD team will gladly assist you in interpreting your results from the inventories. 
  • Freshmen Career Compass is employer-sponsored allowing students to engage with industry professionals early in their collegiate career. The Freshman Career Compass is your first step to career-readiness and exploration. 
  • Attend the Fall AND Spring Career Fair.  These are important opportunities to practice talking to companies, learning about different companies, and figuring out what companies are looking for.  The fall career fair (typically held at the end of September) is run by two student organizations on campus, NSBE and SHPE.  The spring career fair (held in early February) is run by the CCPD. Each fair brings in over 150 employers to campus and allows students to conveniently engage with them.
  • Attend Employer Events.  Attending employer information sessions will provide you with the opportunity to learn about a company in small setting.  Employers come to campus to share current opportunities at their organization.  Presenters often dispense valuable tips on how make your application stand out from others.  At the end of these sessions, you may have time make a personal connection with the industry representative.  These connections will contribute to your own professional network which you should continue to cultivate and expand throughout your undergraduate experience.
  •  Employers often like to see that students have gained experience before applying for an internship.  One practical way to gain experience before embarking on a professional Semester Away position with The Arch is to participate in undergraduate research. Working with a faculty member and a team within a lab environment will allow you to build important skills that will assist you in a future work environment.

Sophomore Year and The Arch Planning:

This is the year you get ready for your Semester Away.  The CCPD starts with the Sophomore Career Experience designed to cultivate the career development knowledge and skills of Sophomores.   

  • Continue to update your resume so that it accurately reflects your academic, professional, and leadership experiences.
  • Practice your interviewing skills. 
  • Attend the Fall AND Spring Career Fair.
  • Evaluate your professional goals. What are you hoping to gain from immersing yourself in an industry?  Consider what type of professional experience you would like to obtain: an Internship or  Co-op.  Each opportunity will be a valuable experience, allowing you to imbed yourself in industry work.  Both are paid experiences.  Either experience will assist you in making informed professional decisions for your future career. 
  • Regularly review positions in JobLink, use Career Shift, and frequently check career pages on employer websites (and beyond).
  • Conduct thorough research on industries and organizations that are in alignment with your professional career goals.
  • Finally work on growing your network and tapping into resources to obtain additional information
  • Job shadowing is one way to learn about a career – a day or two with someone in your network in industry can be very valuable
  • Set up an informational interview.  An informational interview is a meeting you initiate. The purpose is to obtain information about a position, an organization, or an industry. This information can then assist you in making a career decision, or in seeking a position. It is an important tool in the networking process however; it is not a job interview.

Junior Summer Planning:

Your Junior Summer may be spent with the same company you worked for during your Semester Away.  It is also an opportunity to work at a new company and broaden your experience.  

Graduate School

If you are interested in a career in research (Ph.D.) or a management position in industry (M.S. or Ph.D.) or you have a GPA of 3.3 or higher, you should consider graduate school. With a graduate degree, you are well prepared for a career in research, as an educator, or an entrepreneur and innovator.  Not only will graduate school prepare you for these careers, you will be prepared to be a leader.

If you are unsure of pursuing a PhD, you may begin with a Master’s degree.  Some of the basic coursework is the same and can be applied later to a PhD program.  Your career goals may be met with a Master’s degree based on the program of choice.  Either advanced degree will allow the graduate to grow professionally and make positive contributions to their future endeavors.

* Continuing your education in graduate school in the STEM disciplines does not have to be an additional expense. Typically, graduate students are provided with a stipend (on the order of $20,000+) along with tuition.

The Arch Planning

There are two key things that you can do to improve your chances of admission to graduate school (besides getting a high GPA). 

  1. Participate in undergraduate research while at Rensselaer (http://info.rpi.edu/undergraduate-research). 
  2. Get a semester away position at a research laboratory (national laboratory, industrial laboratory, or academic laboratory).   Joblink or this link will provide more information.

Junior Summer Planning

One of the best opportunities after your junior year is to participate in a Research Experiences for Undergraduates during the Summer after your junior year at another University (https://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/reu_search.jsp) or with a Professor at RPI.

Timeline for Applying to Graduate School

  • Freshman Year
    Your freshman year is your time to craft your blueprint and build your foundation.  You should begin introducing yourself to faculty, and developing relationships with them.  During this time, you should focus on excelling in each of your academic courses, and begin to explore summer research opportunities.  Although many programs do not admit freshmen to summer research programs, there are some that do.
  • Sophomore Year
    Your sophomore year should be spent strengthening your foundation.  During this time, you should become involved in a campus research experience.  You should also begin crafting a personal statement for summer research programs, and apply to those programs.  Continue to cultivate your faculty relationships, and begin to familiarize yourself with the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).
  • Junior Year
    This is the time to prepare to launch your graduate career.  During this time, you should continue to involve yourself in research opportunities, and should study for the GRE.  You should also consider attending, and presenting at, an external research conference.  Your junior year is also a time when graduate programs will begin taking a heightened interest in prospective applicants, so consider participating in a graduate recruitment program.  There are a number of programs that will allow you to visit their campuses, and they may even cover all or part of the cost.  Note that the summer between your junior and senior years is an ideal time to take the GRE.
  • Senior Year
    This is the time to make final preparations, and launch your graduate career.  Finalize your list of graduate schools and put the finishing touches on your personal statement.  Have the statement reviewed by at least one faculty member before submitting it as part of an application.  Take the GRE a second time if necessary.  This is also the time to secure recommendations from faculty.  Keep in mind that many graduate programs like to see recommendations from summer research faculty mentors.  Finally, consider applying for external fellowships.

Paying for Graduate School

Continuing your education in graduate school in the STEM disciplines does not have to be an additional expense to achieve your goals. Typically, graduate students are provided with a stipend (on the order of $20,000+) along with tuition.

  • Fellowships Available
    In addition to Teaching and Research Assistants provided by the school, other sources of financial aid exist.  Graduate students are encouraged to work with their advisors and the Office of Graduate Education (OGE) early or just before their graduate studies to apply for funding from sources such as  the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, and the SMART Scholarship to name a few.  OGE offers workshops on starting your search and conducts writing sessions to increase the value of your application to these agencies.   
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Financial Aid

The Arch semester is like any other semester you attend full-time and Federal, NY State, and Rensselaer financial aid will be available as long as you meet eligibility requirements.

Tuition Charges

Will I get the same amount of financial aid in The Arch semester as I would if I was attending a standard academic year (i.e. fall/spring)?

Yes, with the understanding that need based aid is determined by your Cost of Attendance.  The Arch semester is shorter in length than the fall or spring semester, so your expenses for the summer semester might be less which may mean less need-based aid.  Every attempt will be made to allow you to have as much financial aid as possible and renew awards you currently would have prior to The Arch semester.  Merit based awards are never impacted.

When should I apply for financial aid (i.e. file my FAFSA)?

The 2017-18 FAFSA was available on October 1, 2016 for students to complete, earlier than in years past. The ability to file the FAFSA in advance will make it possible for the Office of Financial Aid to determine your aid award earlier if you participate in The Arch Program. It will take approximately one month after you file your FASFA to receive your aid package. After you file your FAFSA you may be required to submit other documents to complete your financial aid application. Please check your SIS account after filing the FAFSA to see if other items are needed. It will be important for you to submit any information that the Office of Financial Aid requests from you as quickly as you can. Keep in mind that your financial aid application materials must be complete and you must let us know which semester you plan to be away from Rensselaer before we can create your aid award.

I'm not interested in any federal or state financial aid. Do I still need to complete the FAFSA?

If you only have Rensselaer merit awards (i.e. Rensselaer Leadership Award, Rensselaer Medal Award, Rensselaer Recognition Award) and are not interested in federal or state aid then you do not need to complete the FAFSA. However, if you have Rensselaer need-based grants (i.e. Rensselaer Grant, Rensselaer Access Grant, President's Assistance Grant) and you wish to be considered for renewal of these awards then you must complete the FAFSA even if you are not interested in federal or state financial aid.

Is financial aid available for my away semester?

Only federal aid is potentially available. In most cases, it is expected that students participate in experiential learning experiences that do not include taking classes, and instead provide income. Using federal aid during the away semester is discouraged. Calculations of federal aid available to each student are based on need per academic year. If the aid is used during the away semester, less will be available during the two semesters on campus. You cannot use Federal Work Study during your away semester. You must be taking at least six credits at RPI, or participating in an approved study abroad program to qualify for federal financial aid.

Finacial Aid Office Hours

No appointment is necessary

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday
8am-4:30pm

Thursdays 9:30am-4:30pm

518-276-6813 | finaid@rpi.edu.

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Letters to the Classes

Here you can learn about class specific information.

Class of 2019

We are excited that you will participate in this pilot year.  It will be a summer full of interesting opportunities, and you will have a chance to provide a lot of feedback on what you liked and didn’t like!  

Here is what you need to know:

  1. Go to SIS, log in, and Opt In to the program.  This way we will get you all the information on housing, financial aid, finding an internship, and classes.
  2. Stop by the School of Engineering or Lally School HUB
  3. Fill out your plan of study (By March 1, 2017). Turn it in to your HUB.
  4. Start looking for The Arch Semester Away Experience - Use all the resources available to you including the Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) and the Office of International Programs.  They are running lots of information sessions this spring.
  5. When you have found a position, go to the CCPD and get the approval form - This is how we will know to give you credit for your experience on your transcript and then you don't have to apply for a leave!
  6. ANY Questions - Go to the School of Engineering or Lally School HUB
Class of 2020

Start thinking ahead!  There are a lot of programs run by the Center for Career and Professional Development for first year students.  We look forward to sharing information for the Summer of 2018 as it is developed.  Meanwhile - check back this fall to hear about what happened in the Summer of 2017. 

The Arch will be open to all sophomores in the class of 2020 for the summer of 2018 - stop in to see your advisor or the advising HUBS to learn more!

Class of 2021

Freshmen Year

  • Please attend the Freshmen Compass run by the CCPD.  Get your resume ready, and go to the career fair!

Sophomore Year

  • There will be a set of required workshops to help finalize your resume, practice interviewing skills, become an expert at joblink (our tool for connecting you to internships, co-ops, fellowships, and more), and attend the fall and spring career fair! 
  • Then The Arch begins and you will have a unique sophomore summer, a career development experience you create, and build a network that prepares you to have the position you desire upon graduation, be that graduate school, an industry job, and more.  
  • For those of you who are athletes, ROTC, the accelerated MD/PhD program, or have other special circumstances, this is the time you would fill out the exception form.

We can't wait to share more with you once you are on campus.  If you have questions before then, please feel free to email  SummerArch@rpi.edu

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International Students

This is a brief overview of FAQs for International Students and The Arch.  For more details or questions outside of the FAQs, please contact the ISSS Office directly.

Can I participate in The Arch?

Yes, after opting in for The Arch you will need to fill out the ISSS The Arch form.

Can I choose either the fall or spring Semester to take as a break?

Yes, but you will need to choose which term semester you will take as a break during the mid semester of your sophomore year. For example sophomores who would like to be away in the fall would need to decide by early March.  You would then decide after notifying ISSS what your plan for the fall break will be.

For the Fall Semester Away, can I go back to my home country during this time?

Yes, you can.  Please make sure the ISSS Arch form is completed, and that you have met with ISSS.

When I return for the spring semester, after my Fall Semester Away will I need a new I-20?

No, if you have completed the proper paper work with ISSS, you will not need to get a new I-20 if you are returning for classes for the spring semester.  If something else is occurring please contact ISSS.

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Varsity Student-Athletes

Intercollegiate student-athletes have a special opportunity to participate in the complete experience of being a Rensselaer student while also representing the Institution on the field, court, track or in the pool. A semester competing while on Co-Op is just one example! By planning ahead, utilizing the abundant campus resources available and communicating with coaches and other athletic department staff members, student-athletes can take full advantage of all the tremendous experiences The Arch offers – all while wearing the Cherry and White of Rensselaer.

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Exception Process

As part of The Arch Program, students are required to attend Rensselaer in the summer after their sophomore year, and then use one of the semesters (as dictated by their program) during their junior year as a professional development experience. Student participation is dictated by their entering class year, although exceptions can be made for cases of leaves of absences or for students entering with a significant number of credits. In addition, students with extenuating circumstances may apply for an exception to opt out of the program. An extenuating circumstance must be something that significantly impacts health, or family finances, or is due to an external fellowship or opportunity that does not fit with The Arch schedule.

Students requesting an exception from either The Arch or Away Semester options (or both), may file an exception form with the Office of Undergraduate Education. The Office of Undergraduate Education will make a determination and inform the following organizations on campus of the decision:

  • Athletics (if pertinent)
  • ROTC (if relevant)
  • Student Success
  • Registrar
  • Office of Financial Aid
  • Advisor (as listed in Banner)
  • Associate Dean of the School for the Student’s primary degree
  • Department Head for the Student’s primary degree

The students participating in the programs listed in Table I (below) will automatically receive an exception if they wish to opt out of the required Program. They must, however, file the exception form.

Varsity student-athletes

Intercollegiate student-athletes have a special opportunity to participate in the complete experience of being a Rensselaer student while also representing the Institution on the field, court, track or in the pool. A semester competing while on Co-Op is just one example! By planning ahead, utilizing the abundant campus resources available and communicating with coaches and other athletic department staff members, student-athletes can take full advantage of all the tremendous experiences The Arch offers – all while wearing the Cherry and White of Rensselaer.

Air Force ROTC

Air Force ROTC students who enter Rensselaer with 24 credits may be able to participate in The Arch program after their first year at Rensselaer and be able to participate in an away experience.

Table 1

Students Involved in the following programs, if requested, will receive a waiver.

No matter what your program of study (Major) If your program of study requires Fall away semester If your program of study requires Spring away semester
Cross Country/Track & Field (M+W) Field Hockey Baseball
Golf, Basketball (M+W) Football Lacrosse (M+W)
Hockey (M+W) Soccer (M+W) Softball
Swimming & Diving (M+W)    
Tennis (M+W)    
Air Force ROTC*    
Naval ROTC*    
Albany Med/RPI Program