Worcester Polytechnic Institute
From the moment first-year students step foot on the Worcester Polytechnic Institute campus, they are introduced to the foundational tools they need to succeed in their college careers and the rest of their lives. The one-of-a-kind WPI Plan puts knowledge to action, engaging teams of students through projects that address real-world issues. While most WPI students are STEM or business majors, their curriculum is enriched with courses in the liberal arts and humanities so that they develop as well-rounded, insightful leaders.
Get to know Worcester Polytechnic Institute
THE WPI PLAN
An inherent component of the WPI curriculum, project-based learning challenges students to apply what they learn in the classroom to practical, real-world contexts. The engaging WPI Plan prepares students for lifelong inquiry and success, immersing them in first-year and capstone projects, service-learning initiatives, and even global research abroad. Projects are integrated all throughout the core curriculum, ensuring that students are always witnessing the value of hands-on study.
The Plan works: WPI has followed over 2,500 alumni through their professional lives and found that they attribute much of their success to the adaptive skills they learned through the university’s project-based educational model.
WOMEN IN STEM
WPI makes conscious efforts to increase parity in the STEM fields by encouraging more women to study mathematics and science. Through various women’s programs—networking, workshops, health/fitness classes and seminars, and women’s empowerment organizations—WPI women are bolstered to become active leaders and scholars in an otherwise male-dominated field.
ENROLLMENT BY ETHNICITY
Nonresident aliens: 11%
Black or African American, non-Hispanic: 3%
White, non-Hispanic: 62%
American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic: 0%
Asian, non-Hispanic: 3%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic: 0%
Two or more races, non-Hispanic: 2%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown: 9%
New WPI freshmen are welcomed to campus with a broad, supportive experience that helps them ease their transition to college life. The Insight Program, for example, invites freshmen to join a team of students who live within the same residence hall alongside a Peer Community Advisor, a Peer Resident Advisor, and a staff Insight Advisor. Those who take part in this cohort come home to a supportive community all throughout their first year, forming close friendships with their upperclassmen mentors and receiving informed guidance from their staff leaders.
BRIDGING THE GAP
The Connections Bridging Program is truly emblematic of WPI’s dedication to student success. Like many schools, the university hosts an orientation session for students to get to know their campus before classes start, but that’s not all: WPI also goes the extra mile by offering a pre-orientation program to anyone who may want extra help transitioning, especially students of color and students from underserved populations. This free Connections program helps introduce participants to various academic and personal development skills, leadership training, and social opportunities. By the time students start classes—and even by the time students start their freshman orientation—they will be confident and prepared in their new community.
GREAT PROBLEMS SEMINAR
WPI’s Great Problems Seminar (GPS) is an introductory, two-course seminar that primes first-year students for the rest of their college careers. These courses utilize project-based learning through hands-on group collaboration. Working in such an involved classroom environment, students not learn valuable college-level skills, but they also make new friends within their diverse community of peers.
LIVING AND LEARNING
In the Fall of 2018, WPI unveiled its first living-learning community, the Foisie Innovation Studio and Messenger Residence Hall. Students who are passionate about STEM education and interested in immersing themselves in the discipline are now able to live in an environment that gives them a direct connection to all STEM-related goings-on at WPI. This living-learning community is actively informed and deeply engaged.
Since 1970, WPI has seen over 12,000 students participate in its active, compassionate Global Projects Program. This exciting initiative enables students to travel all around the world to assist with various technological and societal challenges. Their intelligent, innovative service creates palpable results as they better the lives of the communities they visit. Needless to say, students are inspired whenever they witness firsthand the effects of their own work.
WPI is situated in the town of its namesake, Worcester, MA, which is just 40 miles south of Boston. Also home to several colleges, Worcester exudes the vibe of a smaller college town with access to a broad urban scene. The city also happens to be emerging as a major startup hub for tech companies, thanks in large part to its highly educated population.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute participates in Division III athletics, consisting of ten men’s and nine women’s varsity sports teams. Like other members of the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), WPI athletics teams consist of true student-athletes who work hard both on and off the field and demonstrate excellent teamwork and leadership.
CAREER DEVELOPMENT CENTER
WPI believes that real-world experience is invaluable; however, it is quite common for internships and entry-level jobs to be unpaid or underpaid. But finances shouldn’t interfere with what could be a life-changing experience.
In attempt to enable students to make the most of their undergraduate career without an extra financial burden, the Career Development Center offers Summer Experience Grants to help with funding. Recipients of these grants enjoy the opportunity to gain relevant work experience while supporting themselves with sustainable funds.
The Undergraduate Co-Op Program at WPI provides students with full-time, professional employment at a real company for 4-8 weeks. Such an immersive program helps participants grow accustomed to the working world and all the skills they need to navigate the professional sphere. Not only do they learn how to conduct themselves at work, how to negotiate salary, and more, but they are also often recruited to continue working for their company after graduation.
Believing that standardized tests are not the most accurate way to measure a student’s strengths, abilities, or potential for success, WPI became one of the first nationally ranked science and engineering universities to provide a test-optional admissions policy for applicants. The admissions office instead focuses on a student’s overall résumé, academic performance, and personal achievements.
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