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CLASS at Rensselaer

Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students (CLASS) is a comprehensive approach to the student experience at Rensselaer. Through ongoing support, guidance, and co-curricular activities, CLASS connects students to a network of faculty, staff, and other students, ensuring that they are part of a strong community of learners. As students strive to become the leaders of tomorrow, CLASS helps them develop the intellectual agility, multicultural sophistication, and global awareness that will enable them to change the world.

The CLASS Philosophy

College is a time of transition and transformation. The rates at which students adjust to academic demands or integrate into social groupings can vary widely, so at Rensselaer we have put into place an approach that will help you meet the challenges ahead, and to optimize the opportunities at the university and beyond. CLASS (Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students) is our comprehensive approach to the student experience at Rensselaer, comprising key aspects of a residential college model.

CLASS benefits you in a number of ways, fostering your growth personally and professionally, and preparing you for meaningful impact in the world.

CLASS cultivates an awareness of self, creating gateways to transformative experiences that will help you realize your potential.

CLASS is built upon two main platforms: our residential clustering model, which undergirds a transformative campus experience, and time-based clustering, which begins with the First-Year Experience and continues with developmentally appropriate experiences throughout the collegiate experience.

These models create overlapping support and opportunity that help to build intellectual agility, multicultural sophistication, and an appreciation of the global community. This is achieved by encouraging students to set and achieve personal and professional goals, and to explore and understand commonalities and differences within the vibrantly pluralistic community that is Rensselaer. With CLASS, you will be directed toward scholarship, fellowship, and international study, as well as opportunities—both on and off the campus—to enhance your leadership skills, to pursue lifelong ambitions, and to be part of, and contribute to, an outstanding and caring community.

A Network of Support

“CLASS helped me realize that the Rensselaer community is there to meet my needs as a student, a growing leader, and a peer. Everyone is united by this initiative, which creates a diverse and unique campus.”

Izabela Biedo
Industrial and Management Engineering

CLASS involves the entire Rensselaer community working to challenge and engage you as you move to higher plateaus of success. CLASS will connect you with many individuals and offices to help you, including:

Commons Assistant Deans. The Commons Assistant Deans help with day-to-day matters and, working with resident directors, add vibrancy to the living/learning experience.  

Class Deans. Class Deans provide developmentally specific support, programming, and advocacy for students with all aspects of the Institute. Class Deans help to structure leadership experiences, provide learning assistance and career planning, connect students with special counseling as needed, and, together with Commons Assistant Deans, plan social and cultural activities. In short, they are mentors, counselors, facilitators, and guides as you make your way through your college years.

Faculty Deans and Fellows of the Residential Commons. These tenured professors act as the primary liaisons between the Residence Life staff and the faculty. They  provide students and faculty with opportunities to get to know one another on both the professional and personal levels. They also offer opportunities for students to broaden their perspectives in their chosen fields, and to deepen their understanding of life in the professional world.

Student Life. All other Student Life departments play a critical role in helping you become a well-rounded and uniquely prepared Rensselaer graduate, ready to impact the world. Athletics, the Archer Center for Student Leadership Development, the Student Health Center, the Center for Career and Professional Development, the Dean of Students Office, the Rensselaer Union, and the Registrar’s Office all are committed to your growth and development. 

Time-Based Clustering

Rensselaer has introduced time-based clustering in order to support the personal and academic needs of students during their undergraduate years.

Each class will be supported by a team of Commons Assistant Deans, upper-class and graduate student staff, Faculty Residential Deans of the Commons, and a Class Dean. This support structure ensures that every student receives the best individual counseling, mentoring, and personal attention that Rensselaer has to offer.

The First-Year Experience offers a number of important programs, including orientation and Navigating Rensselaer and Beyond (NRB), all aimed at adjustment and transition during a student’s first year at Rensselaer.

Sophomore Experience. This year is spent working with students on their co-curricular experiences while firming up their academic goals, and clarifying their intent.

Junior Experience. The focus here is on helping students realize that “experience matters” and helping them find ways to have valuable professionally-oriented experiences, and to solidify future plans.

Senior Experience. The goal of the senior year experience is to help students make the transition from Rensselaer to becoming young alumni leaders on the global stage, through work, government service, or advanced education.

The structure described above, and its corresponding programming, lend a significant sense of purpose and focus to your college years, better preparing you for life after Rensselaer.

Residential Clustering

“CLASS is the Rensselaer residential and developmental model that is predicated on clustering as the mechanism for student growth and transformation.”

President Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.

If you are like most students, your first priority must be your academic success at Rensselaer. To reach your goals and have the kind of college experience that you want, you need to have a living situation that helps you to grow and that meets your needs. For the majority of students, that means living on campus. Approximately 3,200 undergraduate students live on the Troy campus. 

Rensselaer frames its residential experience so that it can be as enjoyable and productive as possible. Clusters of residence halls, called Residential Commons, are a central feature of CLASS and the Residence Life experience. All first- and second-year students live within these clusters, which are residential halls that are grouped geographically, as well as some that stand alone. Those Greek houses that are associated with the Institute through a “Commons Agreement” also are considered Residential Commons.

Each of the four commons has its own character and focus, and each harbors a small, tightly knit student community that blends the academic, social, and residential aspects of university life.

Several different affinity-based living options are available at Rensselaer including “Ground Zero,” a community for arts, music, and culture; “Vasudha,” centered around earth, energy, and the environment; and “Leadership House,” which provides student leadership development.

Faculty Engagement

The office of the Faculty Dean of the Residential Commons and Faculty Fellows within the Residential Commons provide and facilitate academic and experiential learning activities.

Lunch meetings with distinguished faculty, book discussions, and music and art performances.

Dinner at the Dean’s House—Small group encounters that bring together students and professors for good conversation and food in a relaxed environment.

HASS Inquiry—The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences provides special out-of-class learning experiences for first-year students.

Designed to transform the student experience, CLASS continually evolves its model in order to provide unparalleled support, furnish outstanding opportunities, and build a cohesive living and learning residential college community here at Rensselaer.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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