Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, NY, USA

Reviews

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
3.86 Average Rating

DS from Troy, NY

a current student here
32 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
RPI is a wonderful place to learn. The academics are rigorous here, but the hard work pays off. Although it's a technological institute, there are lots of fields you can pursue, including biology, architechture, management, information technology, computer science, astronomy, psychology, electronic arts, or even the arts/humanites.
Am enjoying being here
RPI was ranked #2 on Princeton Review's 'More to do on campus' list for a good reason - there are so many things to do on campus! There is everything from dance and music ensembles to athletics and martial arts. You'll never be bored!
Plus, everyone is so friendly; it's a great environment to be in.
Bang for the buck
Great education. Although the costs are pretty high, RPI is very good when it comes to financial aid packages.
Tips for prospective students
Research the school and see if it's right for you. Come and take a tour; find out more about what Rensselaer has to offer!
Great for these types of students
academic-oriented, enjoy math/science
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Maureen from Parish, NY

a current student here
18 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
Rensselaer believes in a core education for all majors, as well as a core inside of majors. This means that I took a freshman seminar, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and liberal arts first semester, as well as three engineering courses (I am an engineering major). I gained knowledge from each class, most of which will serve as a foundation for future courses, as well as some that will serve as basic principles in my future career. As Rensselaer contains many unique majors, major-specific information will be much different than the education students were exposed to in high-school.
Am enjoying being here
Numerous elements lead to a great time at Rensselaer: the students, the clubs, the events, the environment, the surrounding city, and the academics.
If you go to Rensselaer, you will be surrounded with people who have interests similar to your own. It is very easy to find friendly, helpful people who are sociable - do not believe the stereotype that everyone is a video-game-playing nerd (although there is a fair share of non-sociable people here)!
You can also find plenty of clubs to keep you occupied on campus: our clubs range from sports-related to dance dance revolution to volunteerism to basket weaving! Truly, you can find something you enjoy. If not, start something!
Campus also has many fun events. Concerts, comedy acts, carnivals, dances, and sporting events happen any day of the week and are well-advertised. You need to have a really good excuse as to why you are bored on a Friday night!
The environment on campus is contagious. Students wear RPI insignia everywhere and have school pride. When you come in as a freshman, a week is devoted to welcoming you to campus!
Although Troy has a bad reputation, the area immediately close to campus is completely safe. Shops and restaurants love having Rensselaer students' business and often offer discounts. Past the immediate area, gems can be found, such as Little Italy and farmers' markets. Not to mention, Rensselaer is very close to the riverfront of the Hudson!
Even the academics at Rensselaer are enjoyable. The curriculum is flexible: you can take most any class you want because you are allowed a number of free electives. If you find you do not like a course, the drop deadline is reasonably late in the school year, so you will not have to worry about it bringing down your GPA.
Bang for the buck
Rensselaer does come with a hefty price tag. However, Rensselaer is a well-recognized name in the business world. Many prestigious businesses attend the biannual career fairs with intentions of bringing in well-developed employees. The cost of Rensselaer will be paid for after a few years in the workforce.
You also get bang for your buck while attending Rensselaer. There are many resources on campus that you can take advantage of, including the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, the Biotechnology building, and a supercomputer. You can fine-tune your business skills or just have fun with these tools, making your bill completely worthwhile.
Tips for prospective students
It is not all-important to have a definitive major. Even if you do not come into Rensselaer with a clear idea of a major, there is a program for undeclared majors that allows exploration, and you can graduate on-time.
Build a good work ethic now. Rensselaer's curriculum is rigorous, and it can be easy to fall behind. To prevent that from happening, develop good study habits that you can transfer to a college setting.
Great for these types of students
Focused, well-rounded, driven, professional, approachable students excel at Rensselaer.
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Diana from Lauderhill, FL

a current student here
10 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
If you've looked into RPI as your prospective university you know of its academic merit but that merit is tied to the expectation of your academic dedication and excellence. The professors will expect a lot from you but if you put in the effort they will do the same. At times it may seem impossible but don't fall behind, master your studying habits, acknowledge what is the best way you learn and do it. The course work is intense, there is no denying it but it is possible. Make a friend in each class that way you have someone to talk to if you need help. Take advantage of all the resources RPI has to offer (ALAC, Office Hours, your TA's and LA's, if you don't get the abbreviations now you'll get them when you get here. We abbreviate almost everything.). The people here will help you but only if you do your part.
Am enjoying being here
I attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, Home of the Engineers and Puckman. I went to every one of our Division 1 Hockey team’s home games and several of our Division 3 Men’s Soccer Games, including the semifinals at Union College. I have learned the Alma Mater by heart and proudly sung it at every game’s halftime. I proudly wear my red and white and spent several afternoons studying out on different lawns on campus surrounded by the changing trees in the fall, the snow in the winter and the blooming flowers in the spring. But most of all I’ve made real connections with both my peers and my professors that will only continue to flourish fueled by mutual positive energy. And to think that when I completed my application I was just filling it out cause it only had one essay.
Bang for the buck
I know RPI is expensive. It is a hard blow to your pockets but the name of this university is widespread in the engineering, architecture, and business fields. A degree from RPI is a great investment in your future. While you're here you have the full university at your disposal. Every resource available to the university is available to you. The entire campus is your study room. The connections available through RPI are your connections to utilize. There is so much to do once you get here since you made it here. Plus RPI is great with financial aid. The employees at the financial aid office really do try to do the best they can to help you and academic success is compensated.
Tips for prospective students
What I didn't know the spring of my senior year was that I wasn't just picking a university to spend a decent-sized chunk of my life at. No, I was doing much more than that. I was picking an Alma Mater to make my own, a mascot to represent me, a color scheme to dictate my wardrobe, a group of peers to call friends, and a campus and staff to be my pride and my home. If you're looking to RPI as your prospective university, prepare yourself. The academics get more like an Olympic event with each semester, be prepared to learn and study. The workload seems to never end or even diminish, it actually piles on with every week, be prepared to master time management. The weather can get as severe as over a foot of snow, or a week of rain but it can also be a beautiful sunny day with everyone outdoors playing volleyball, barbecues, and study groups on the lawns, be prepared for all weather(believe me I'm from south Florida, the first winter was harsh). But also be prepared to be social, to put yourself out there a little even if it's a bit out of your comfort zone. There are a lot of great people here but some are just too shy to approach you, get involved with groups that share your interests, meet the people on your floor, go to the activities fair and you won't regret the fun people you'll meet. College is what you make it no matter where you go.
Great for these types of students
RPI is great for the student who is ready to learn, is determined and self-motivated. For the student that doesn't settle for average and only strives for excellence. The student, who has his /her eyes on the prize, will not allow anything to veer them from that goal and that doesn’t need a sunny day to keep them out of a glum. The student, who is willing to put in the work to excel in the long-term. The student that is ready to achieve and to thrive. The student that is anxious to make a difference. The student who when faced with a problem confronts it with Why not change the world?
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Irene from Brooklyn, NY

a current student here
10 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
I've learned a lot so far and hope to learn so much more. RPI is a very intense school, meaning that you actually have to work hard to be successful. I do think however that I've learned so much more about people being that RPI is so diverse
Am enjoying being here
RPI is a great school. There are many opportunities to get involved and once you get involved, you'll have a great time. Last year (my freshman year) was the best year of my life!
Bang for the buck
RPI is a relatively expensive school but the quality of education, amount of resources, and experiences here are totally worth it. Also, the name Rensselaer means a lot of future employers. RPI even hosts 2 career fairs every year and has extensive resume building workshops to ensure that you will get a job offer by the time you graduate.
Tips for prospective students
Always be prepared for class. Learn how to manage your time very wisely so as to not fall behind in your coursework and to stay relatively stress free.
Great for these types of students
RPI is a great school for people who know where they want to go in life. It provides great structure and guidance for over-achievers (like me) who intend on being very successful in the future.
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Michaela from Brewster, NY

accepted here and planning to attend soon
6 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
RPI is a great engineering school with the prefect combo of old and new. The campus has a nice feeling and the students and very helpful. Amazing education paired with a great campus, student body, and a good surrounding town.
Tips for prospective students
Before you apply you'll want to make sure you visit the campus and get a feel for things. When I visited other schools I knew from the moment I stepped on campus if it was right for me or not.
Be involved in extracurriculars and sports, try to get leadership positions to put on your application. That doesn't mean join stuff just for the hell of it though. Find something you like to do and excel at it.
Grades are important - don't let them slip in your junior and senior year.
If you want to be a student athlete, get your application and videos in as soon as you can. I made the mistake of applying to play on a team after I was accepted - bad move.
See if your school is involved in one of RPI's medal or scholarship programs. Also, check out the ROTC programs on campus if you're interested in the military at all.
Academic Rigor
Very rigorous classes, but nothing you couldn't handle. Make sure to make time for studying.
Dorm Life
Kind of small depending on where you live. The freshman five all seem like a typical college dorm. Barton is newer and has air conditioning. BarH is closer to the athletic fields and furthest from the academic buildings, but not by much.
Food and Dining
Food's pretty good. There's dining halls everywhere and even in the bottom of some residence halls.
What to do for fun
There are loads of clubs, sports, and activities happening on campus. Troy also has fun stuff to do - I would ask an upperclassman about though. It's also a short bus ride to Albany.
Clubs and Activities
There's so much to do that everyone can find something to enjoy.
Greek Life
There is greek life but it isn't crazy.
Campus Safety
Near Troy so I'm a little skeptical but they have all those blue boxes around campus and you can call them to walk you home as well.
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Margaret from Tyngsboro, MA

a current student here
4 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
I'm taking Intro to Comp Prog and I haven't ever done programming before so everything is new and exciting that class. Chem I and Calc II are review for me but I still am learning some things I didn't know before like vectors in Calc. In Minds and Machines (kinda philosophy class) I love learning all the different philosophical views on the nature of persons and consciousness.
Am enjoying being here
The people here are awesome. Everyone on my floor (Crockett 3!) are really nice. We all leave our doors open if we're home and just hang out with each other. I also am still very good friends with some of the people I meet at NRB (Navigating Rensselaer and Beyond) even though I don't live in the same building as them.
Bang for the buck
Yes it can get a bit pricey but it's a school with a great reputation. If you're an engineer you are almost guaranteed a job after graduation. You learn a lot here, housing is nice, and food is okay, not great but better than high school cafeteria food.
Tips for prospective students
Study for the SATs. It is a beatable test and with a good score you can get in many places. Also, challenge yourself and take some AP courses and see if you can get credit for any courses (you'll want to AP out of intro to bio if you can).
Great for these types of students
Engineers, science-oriented people, architects, nerds (and I say that with affection)
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Benjamin from Scotts Valley, CA

a current student here
3 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
The academics are very difficult but rewarding. The professors know their stuff and are very accessible outside of class room hours. The students are all brilliant but are typically quite socially though less so than other major tech universities.
Tips for prospective students
Rensselaer is not like high school. You can not just drift through the classes doing the basic amount of work and expect an A on the test. The curriculum is very challenging and can seem overwhelming at times. Take a lot of time to study and really understand the material and talk to the professors about anything you are struggling with. They are very willing to help. However, don't get to wrapped up in your studies. There are a lot of great activities to be a part of and lots of amazing clubs to join. Take some time really have fun and enjoy your time at Rensselaer.
Academic Rigor
The academics are very tough. There is a higher expectation for being able to work through and understand topics on your own. However, the professors are very open to helping if you are struggling on any material.
Dorm Life
Rooms are decent, and the people in my dorm are all wonderful. The Resident Advisors and Learning Assistants are very helpful. The main problem I have come across is finding the ideal time of day when the hot water for the showers does not run out.
Food and Dining
Not real great food. But better than a lot of cafeteria food I have had in the past. On occasion, outside chefs are brought in to do a special meal.
What to do for fun
There is so much to do outside of academics. If you can think of it, there is a club or activity for it and if not then it can be made. I am constantly busy doing things for various clubs.
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Eryka from Bogart, GA

a current student here
3 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
The ratio is definitely noticeable, but not a huge deal once you consider how many guys don't come out of their rooms to socialize. The courses are tough, so we work hard during the week (and a bit on the weekend), and then play hard on weekends. Ice hockey games are the best to watch with friends!!
Tips for prospective students
You've probably heard this many times before, but know that college is VERY different from high school. I never really had to study in high school (even in AP courses), but once I got to college I realized that I actually had to put in some effort in order not to make mediocre grades. Don't let the ratio scare you off! For you girls and guys out there interested in RPI, please know it's not as bad as it looks on paper (usually)! Try to plan out your next four years early on to fit in any extra classes you want to take besides those required for your major (for example, fitting in a minor or dual major). Take AP classes/tests to get credit here! Especially AP Chem and AP Bio if your major only requires you to take the intro class to each! It's very, very useful to have those credits.
Academic Rigor
With the possible exceptions of the HASS (Humanities and Social Science) courses, the classes you will take here are pretty challenging in general. A note on the HASS requirements for any degree: take psychology, starting with gen psych. They are by far the easiest classes you will take here. It's a nice break from the other classes you are required to take throughout your time here. Classes are challenging, and tests are rarely curved to my knowledge, though you are probably not doing as poorly in your class as you think you are based off test grades. For example; physics 1 grades are padded with in class 'activities' and homework grades in addition to your test grades (you also have the option of replacing a poor test grade with the grade you get on the final exam). Most students are very willing to help, so just ask around if you are struggling with a class! (This is in addition to professor office hours, drop-in tutoring, and review sessions available)
Dorm Life
None of the freshman dorms (except for Barton Hall) have air conditioning, which isn't a huge deal for most of the year, but it's slightly annoying the first month or so of school. Most of the dorms are old (again with the exception of Barton), and I ended up living in a forced triple because of the large freshman class this year (forced triple meaning 3 people in a double with a slight discount on room&board prices). Having a kitchen on most floors in the dorms is useful, even though the appliances are usually older. It would be nice to have more storage space in the rooms, but that may just be a problem for me since I'm in the forced triple setting.
Food and Dining
The food actually isn't all that bad considering it's campus food. Pizza and salad is always an option. Commons and Sage both have delis where you can have a sandwich or wrap made for you. Commons, Sage, and BARH all have a grill with hamburgers, fries, ect. There are themed meals each night to offer variety. Freshmen are required to have a dining hall meal plan, but can choose how many meals per week. We have Flex dollars that are included in the meal plan costs and can be used to buy things like Ben & Jerry's in the Student Union (yum!). Pizzabella's and Moe's are right next to each other just off campus and many students choose to go there for late night pizza or Mexican food. There are also some really good places to eat in Troy (the Brown Bag, Dinosaur BBQ, Dante's frozen yogurt, etc).
What to do for fun
If you have a floor/wing that is social, hang out with them! I've made quite a few friends just by hanging out outside my dorm room, or just leaving my door open during the first few weeks of school. If you have a car (or a friend with a car if you are a freshman) you can travel into Albany or go to Colonie Square or the mall. Troy can sometimes be an interesting place to explore with friends, as long as you do it during the daytime.
Bang for the buck
It's expensive, but it sure does pay off in the end once you land that high-paying job with a well known company after graduation. The financial aid given to students is usually very good.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
I haven't yet experienced the winter/snow here yet, but I hear that many students take trays from the dining halls to sled down hills on campus. Pizzabella's is the place to go for late night pizza after hanging out (or while hanging out) with friends. There is also a spot near Sage Dining where you can stand, talk normally, and hear your voice echoing back to you. Oh, and West Hall is said to be haunted (though my friends and I haven't found anything yet).
Great for these types of students
Well-rounded, driven, and students willing to look for help when needed will succeed here. Almost all of us here are nerds at heart, even if we don't look like it. Ask around and you're more likely than not to find something at least slightly nerdy about every student here. You have your extreme gamers that don't leave their dorms except to go to class, all the way to your ROTC/jocks and everything in between. Not all of us are socially awkward either!
Clubs and Activities
There are so many clubs on campus, it's pretty much guaranteed you will find a club you are interested in. If you played sports in high school, we have many intramural teams and club teams in addition to Div. III school sports teams (with men's and women's hockey being Div. I). I personally am on the club volleyball team, cheer squad/team, and an intramural soccer team this fall, and I love it. If you love your videogames, like knitting, enjoy hiking and biking, or like shooting targets with a bow and arrow, those clubs are here too! So many to choose from, you'll have trouble fitting in time for all the ones you want to join!
Greek Life
It's wonderful! I know that at least for the sororities, there is no hazing at all. In my sorority, we had a gift week where our then-unknown Bigs gave us gifts throughout the week. The Greek population here is generally very friendly and active on campus. There are somewhere around 30 fraternities on campus, with many having a house or apartment where the brothers live. There are five sororities total, with three main social ones. The IFC and Panhellenic Council preside over all the Greeks and there are Greek events throughout the year. Going Greek is a great way to make connections that might end up assisting you in finding future job opportunities (in addition to the fun social side of it).
Campus Safety
There are call boxes all over campus, and you are never out of sight of one. You can regularly see the Public Safety cars driving around campus, and if you feel unsafe at any time on or near campus, you can call Pub. Safe to give you a ride back to the dorms.
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Hannah

a current student here
3 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
RPI is a challenging school and is for those who are technically oriented. I was always the top of my class in high school and now I fight for every A, which is the challenge I was looking for all my life. If someone does not like the idea of being required to take physics and calculus, this school is not for you. However, there aren't any true English classes, so there is a trade-off. What everyone hears about the ratio is true, there are far more males than females, but this is the nature of an engineering school that used to be all-male.
Tips for prospective students
1. Study early, study often - this school is unforgiving for those who do not put in work for their grade. 2. Have a social life, no matter how small. Friends will help on those nights when you don't sleep studying for an exam, especially friends in your major, they will be right there with you. 3. Don't feel overwhelmed (or at least try) - this school has ridiculous amounts of work and reverse grade inflation, one can do well if they keep on top of things, get help when they need it, and keep trying. 4. The professors are people too, you can make friends with them, this may help your grade depending on the professor.
Academic Rigor
Hahahahaha, oh my. RPI. Well, it's crazy ridiculous. Even the art majors I know have lots of work but it is generally within the scope of reason. There will be a few sleepless study nights, but not every night (unless you need help). RPI has a reputation for being rigorous and it delivers on that promise.
Dorm Life
I have only had that RPI kid roommates, the crazy kind that has some sort of disorder and really needs help but is a genius. There are mostly normal, amazing people there who are easy to make friends with though, so don't be scared. That being said, I always ended up with the crazies, however, the room change process is a breeze so you can change and be with people you like if the first one doesn't work out. Later on there are ample opportunities to have a single room and do whatever you want or to room with friends.
Food and Dining
I have never gone hungry because the food is too gross, but I have ended up eating pizza in the main dining hall many a night. In general if parents are going to be on campus the food is amazing, and it is also slightly better during the main prospective students touring season. Compared to other schools we have gourmet dining from what I have heard, but it is sometimes difficult to find a healthy option that is palatable.
What to do for fun
You're in Capitaland of New York, minutes from the capital, and a major airport, train, and bus station that can take you anywhere. In Troy itself there is an active nightlife with restaurants, bars, and clubs. There are concerts and cultural events on campus put on in EMPAC (a lovely new building for performing arts), there's a church and several religious clubs if you're into that, there are literally hundreds of clubs, service organizations, frats, sports teams, and many combinations thereof. My favorite are the acapella groups and (my favorite) the RPI idiots, RPI's best and only improv comedy troupe. There's always some event going on, and if there isn't you can make one with your friends.
Bang for the buck
For the buck? This school is EXPENSIVE. I have an almost maximum financial aid package and still end up paying $10,000 a year. But, for the name of the school on the diploma it is so worth it. There are good times if you let there be, college doesn't need to be all work (or all play). There are so many things to do and get involved in and you are getting a top notch education and you will be just WAITING for someone to ask where you go to college so you can off-handedly say oh, just a little place called RPI, it's in upstate New York, ever heard of it? Watch jaws drop and listen to people say wow, you must be so smart, congratulations!
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
Freshman hill always has tightrope walkers practicing. We don't have a tightrope or acrobatics club as far as I know, they just all gather. There's the big hockey game every year called The Big Red Freak-out where most of the campus pulls out all the stops to cheer on our boys in the rink.
Great for these types of students
The technically minded (math, physics, engineering, computer gurus) student who doesn't mind selling their soul for their GPA or who doesn't mind only getting a 3.5 (that's an amazing grade at RPI). Keep in mind most graduate and professional schools know of RPI's reverse grade-inflation so they know a 3.5 there translates to a 3.95 elsewhere.
Clubs and Activities
So many interesting clubs, sports (normal and intramural), and activities. I joined 14 clubs at the beginning of freshman year and have since painfully paired it down to two, the more difficult part would be not being involved.
Greek Life
There's dozens of frats and sororities. There are always parties going on and the first month or so of each semester they put on big fun events for anyone to swing by. Also for the ladies: most frat parties you can automatically get in free, you usually don't need to be on the list and so that is the trade-off for being the minority at the technical school, guys like girls to hang around.
Campus Safety
You are in downtown in a rough city. I know of quite a few people who were attacked walking to a far away dorm from the main part of campus. Most places to live are on the main part of campus, which I would as a small female, walk around on at any time of day and feel perfectly safe, but not through Troy at night. There are safety pillars with public safety call buttons on them so you can call for a ride or an escort if you feel unsafe. There are only 6 really off-campus living areas and there is a shuttle that goes around to all of them from 7a.m. to 11 p.m. so there is no reason to be unsafe most of the time. But, again, the neighborhood is rough and we are right by a large high school, where a lot of trouble stems from.
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Dirksen

a current student here
3 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
To say I'm learning a lot would be an understatement. I've had a very positive experience with the professors here, most being friendly, helpful, and approachable, and all being very knowledgeable. As much learning comes from unexpected places as does from one's core curriculum, though. Often, you'll get just as much out of your easy just for fun one-credit classes as you will any big lectures or labs, and your fellow students may sometimes teach you more than professors or TAs. Overall, its a highly academic environment.
Am enjoying being here
Troy, New York may not be bustling with nightlife and things to do, but the community and experience are still pretty good. For a characteristically nerdy school, there's a sizable Greek life that ranges the spectrum from classic party frats to small houses with just a few quiet guys who are really tight. Likewise, it's not hard to find people to party with, study with, play video games, work out, or anything in between.

You just have to be sure you can make the most of the cold and the most of RPI's cripplingly guy-heavy ratio.
Bang for the buck
The education's top notch, the food and housing are pretty good, there's a friendly, hard-working maintenance staff and a lot of amenities, but the total cost of enrollment is still outrageous. Financial aid helps quite a bit, and the 'tute can be fairly generous with it, but there's still no getting around the fact that you're paying private school prices.
Tips for prospective students
Recover your study skills from senioritis, because classes here will be much harder than they were in high school. The free time can be exciting at first, but you need to learn to manage it and keep a somewhat strict study regimen to survive.

Berate the financial aid department, especially before you enroll. Even if your financial aid package seems surprisingly (in a good way) large, you probably still have a surprisingly (in a bad way) large cost of attendance. There are plenty of students, though, who managed to get comped their laptops or other bonuses by convincing the Aid department that they need help affording their education here.

Seek out the culinary stylings of Tofu Tim.
Great for these types of students
Hard workers, STEM students, students interested in participating in research, those who can stand the cold
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