In summer 2017, Rensselaer launched its first of two pilots of The Arch, formerly Summer Arch. Under The Arch, rising juniors will attend a full semester at Rensselaer between their sophomore and junior years, followed by either a fall or a spring away semester taken during the student’s junior year. The away semester allows students to take advantage of the numerous co-curricular and experiential activities available off campus, including international experiences, internships, co-ops, research opportunities, and civic engagement projects.

On October 18, Rensselaer hosted a Class of 2020 Arch Preparation Fair. Students received nformation needed about academic plans of study, financial aid, housing, assistance with finding an away semester experience, and more.

The Arch focuses on four specific outcomes: broadening student perspectives and enabling them to purse their career-based passions; career readiness and improved ability to secure high-quality jobs or graduate placement; enhanced student-faculty interactions at a pivotal phase of the undergraduate experience; and pathways for students who wish to augment their academic progress through the availability of a year-round academic calendar.

The Arch builds on Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students, or CLASS, which is Rensselaer’s signature approach to the student experience. 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.

The first pilot of The Arch was a success.

  • 70 percent of Arch students received a semester GPA of 3.00 or higher taking a full course load of 12 credits or more.
  • 69 percent of Arch students currently hold a cumulative GPA of 3.00 and higher.
  • 10 percent of the Arch cohort received a 4.00 semester GPA for the summer course load.
  • 94 percent of Arch students attended summer support meetings with their Undergraduate Class Dean to ensure any concerns and needs were being met.
  • 100 percent of support services were offered to all students during The Arch.

The Arch provided opportunities for students to visit local cultural venues, spend time in the Adirondacks on adventure trips, visit local companies to see their future careers in action, and attend seminar series such as “Innovators in Engineering” and “Inventors Nightmare.” Faculty, deans, and administrators spent time with students at events ranging from “What it means to be a global citizen” to “A behind-the-scenes look at Rensselaer labs.”

In summer 2018, Rensselaer will launch the second pilot and rising juniors (Class of 2020) enrolled in all schools will have the opportunity to participate in The Arch. The official launch will take place in 2019 and the program will be a requirement for all members of the Class of 2021.

As is true today, matriculation to degree completion will not take more than eight terms of Rensselaer attendance. The Arch adds richness and expanded opportunities to the standard academic pathway.