See what students say:


Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts is a relatively new school, chartered in 1997, but it has taken the engineering world by storm with its rigorous hands-on program on the “bleeding edge of engineering education.” Olin emphasizes creating one’s own academic path to its 350 undergraduates: The curriculum focuses on “learning skills through project-based learning in order to use engineering and design for the good of the world.” At the end of their time at Olin, students emerge as engineers with “fantastic and practical technical skillsets” that they are able to wield in a variety of settings. Classes are “hard, but interesting and worthwhile,” and students are also able to take courses at nearby Babson, Wellesley, and Brandeis. Classes traditionally involve breaking into small groups, and “most problems dividing work in teams have to do with students getting too excited about the work and doing more than their fair share rather than shirking group duties,” says one student. Self-directed study is important here, and Olin encourages students to design their own semester-long project on a topic that interests them through the college’s Passionate Pursuits program.

Professors are “extremely dedicated” to the work they are doing at Olin. “I have had professors come to campus at 10 p.m. because they heard that students were struggling with homework assignments, and stay until well after midnight,” says one. Uniqueness is everywhere: There is a tremendous amount of flexibility in the classroom, with almost no lectures; TAs are referred to as Course Assistants; and most semesters offer at least one new experimental course (“and the classes that aren’t new are better than they were last semester”). Faculty are “interested in how their teaching works,” and there is “constant improvement in the curriculum and learning styles.” At the end of the day, “Olin doesn’t create engineers—it prepares them.”

Student Body

Olin College hosts an “incredibly intelligent and very motivated” body of individuals that are “not your typical engineer.” Because of the nature of the student body, you can join any group of people at any time and know that they will be having an interesting discussion. “If one wants to have a conversation on middle eighteenth-century philosophy or if the Earth suddenly stopped would we go flying off into space, both are easily found in the dining hall,” says a student. With 80 or so new students flipping each year, some qualities of the student body are “easily changeable” (athleticism, for instance), but this remains a fun group in which “everybody has something that gets them so excited they could stay up all night working on it.”

Campus Life

There are “lots of things happening for such a small school.” For starters, people “work...a lot.” Students work all day every day and “all the rest of the time seems to get filled by working on random interests.” This quirky and innovative group makes time to go on a quick adventure and “explore the local forest, make a code that does something stupid, or eat chips and watch YouTube videos” in the “hotel-room-sized dorms.”

For first-years and sophomores, lounge culture is really big in the dorms, and “if you ever want something to do, just explore the lounges and you will find something.” It’s easy for students to get to Boston, and “there are always students up for spontaneous fun things” like sudden dodgeball in the dining hall or a random dance party. There’s even a mailing list called Carpe Diem in which “people randomly send out info on fun things they are doing all the time so others can join.” A lot of the things students do in their spare time are the same things they do for school, because “what we’re doing in class is genuinely fun.”

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Campus Visits Contact

Susan Brisson
Director of Admissions

1000 Olin Way
Needham, MA 02492


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Applicants: 928
Acceptance Rate: 22%
Average HS GPA: 3.90



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