Known for its science, engineering and mathematics programs, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is one of the oldest technological research institutes in the country. With age comes an impressive list of historical distinctions: RPI alumni had a hand in designing New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge, building the Panama Canal and developing sunscreen, to name just a few.

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RPI is also known for its co-op programs, which offer six- to eight-month periods of full-time, paid work experiences related to a student’s major. The real world training helps graduates hit the ground running when they enter the working world: Median early-career salaries top $100,000, and 91% of alumni earn more than high school graduates, a higher-than-typical percentage.

There's a definite emphasis on academics and a fair amount of academic competition — many students choose to double major. Still, RPI has over 200 student-run organizations, and more than 80% of students play sports. While most of the school's 23 intercollegiate teams, known as the Engineers, compete at the Division III level, both the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams are Division I.