As a high school student from a small suburb in Minnesota, I had only ever lived in one place my entire life. I had only ever known one group of friends, neighbors, and teachers in my life. I had only ever known one place to call home. So when I was researching colleges, finding the right location, environment, and atmosphere with what I wanted to do was a big deal for me. Here are some factors that first pushed me to consider going out of state, and ultimately choosing RIT:
Academics is the main reason you’re going to college, so why not pick a college specializing in what you want to do? I chose RIT because I knew I wanted to work with technology. I had little programming experience and am a very creative person, so I knew I needed something multidisciplinary. I didn’t have just one topic of interest, and RIT is known for not only technology and innovation, but creativity, art, and design.
My major is human-centered computing (HCC), which centers around design, development, and research in the user experience/user interface field. With this major, I’ve learned the skills I need for both web design and software engineering internships. RIT has 85 excellent undergraduate programs and many unique majors in high-demand industries including packaging science, supply chain management, microelectronic engineering, new media design and more.
Within some majors, you even have the option to pick specific concentrations. Once I decided what I specifically interested in, I could explore two different concentrations built into my major. In HCC, some of the concentrations to choose from include design, psychology, natural language processing, accessibility, front-end development, and instructional technology.
Immersions, Minors, and Exploration Programs
At RIT, you can also customize any major with a wide variety of immersions or minors, ranging from 3D digital design to geographic information systems to American sign language. If you don’t have a clue as to what you want to do, that's ok, too! There are unique exploration programs within each college that allows you get a glimpse of all the programs offered, and even a general University Exploration program.
2. Exploring a New Place Away From Home
Do you like to travel? Are you an adventurous person? Or maybe you want to spread your wings away from family? Being able to explore a new environment, get a fresh start from your high school self, or put some distance between yourself and your home life for a few months out of the year are good reasons to consider going out of state.
I had never been to the east coast, so I wanted the opportunity and time to explore not only a new state but a new region I didn’t know much about. If I hadn’t considered an out of state school, I might’ve never explored areas like the Adirondacks and Letchworth state park, museums like the Susan B. Anthony and Strong Museum, or just the culture on the Eastern side of the US. I am now definitely proud I can call myself an upstate New Yorker to my Minnesota friends!
In addition to this, I found the independence and freedom to be a blessing. I could eat dinner whenever I wanted and I was more in control of what I ate. My friends introduced me to the popular “garbage plate” dish first at Henrietta Hots and I’ve been able to explore so many new restaurants since then.
3. Career and Club Opportunities
One of the biggest reasons you will hear about why students choose RIT is the co-op program and career fair. That's because RIT has one of the largest and oldest co-op programs in the country! The co-op program gives you the opportunity to apply what you’re learning in the classroom to a meaningful work experience at a real company and is built into your major. Co-op has allowed me to do work at companies like General Motors, Amazon, and local New York start-ups, and explore different career paths that I may be interested in.
RIT also hosts two major career fairs where companies like Disney, Collins Aerospace, Intuit, or even government agencies will set up tables in the Gordon Field House. Representatives from Fortune 500 companies to medium-sized regional and small tech firms are available to meet and review resumes with the intent to recruit RIT students specifically. Many companies will schedule interviews with students the day after the fair for full-time or co-op employment.
There are also career opportunities within clubs sponsored by corporations or engaged alumni. Some of the clubs I was involved in include New Media Design Club and Hot Wheelz, an electronic vehicle team. Through these clubs, I met current and former students who had jobs at Facebook, Google, and Uber!
4. Overall Fit
It's important to consider a school’s size, location, climate, proximity to things, population diversity, and student-faculty ratio. Being from a small town, I knew I wanted to go to a school that wasn’t too big or too small, so a medium-sized school with around 18,000 students like RIT was perfect. The average class size at RIT is 23, with a student-faculty ratio of 13:1. So, my major-specific classes are small enough where the professors get to know students well. The RIT student body is exceptionally diverse and includes the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID).
The weather in Rochester is similar to my home, an erratic winter, but still has all four seasons. The school’s layout is not too spread out like many city campuses, so it’s easy to navigate and walk places if you don’t have a car. While getting a feel for the school on google maps, I also noticed that there was a great mix of bars, fast food, and unique places to eat like Pi-craft, Naantastic, and Tully’s right nearby. Small stuff like this was important in deciding the perfect college since I knew I would be far from home if I chose to go out of state.
At first, I was nervous about if moving so far was the right thing for me; it seemed like such a hassle compared to those going to college just an hour away. But in the end, the new friends and opportunities have undoubtedly outweighed the uncertain thoughts I once had. If anything, the challenges made me realize how bold and resilient I could be on my own! College is a crazy and fun chapter that will always be a part of your life story, and honestly, choosing to go out of state made the journey of life all the more fun. It became a unique part of who I am.