Impressions Of
Brown University

Academic Experience

Female History Concentrator C/O 2018

Is there anything that you feel the History department does especially well or especially poorly?
The history professors are really, really great. A lot of them are just so enthusiastic about their area of expertise. They just really love what they teach and we see that and they are very inviting to attending office hours and they want to get to know you as people and students.

I would say something that they could improve upon is that sometimes when you’re in a larger History class there are sections in addition to the lectures throughout the week that are led by graduate students and they’re sometimes not as worthwhile as the professor led lectures. But, I think that’s just the nature of having larger classes where the professor isn’t able to work with all of the sections. For the most part, the History department is great and really allows you to learn a lot and take classes in a lot of other departments because it doesn’t have that many requirements.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s very collaborative and it’s not very cut throat. People aren’t trying to act against one another, it’s really not like that. Everyone is very self-motivated and works hard, but also willing to help other people. You know that your fellow students are really part of your community so it is a great environment to learn and people are very interested in going to lectures outside of just their academic coursework. It’s a very intellectual environment.

Male Applied Mathematics and Economics Double Concentrator C/O 2018

Is there anything that you feel the Applied Mathematics or Economics departments do especially well or especially poorly?
Both concentrations do really well in terms of getting a degree of freedom within the concentrations. There are some core courses that everyone has to take, but then there are electives, so depending on what part of a subject interests you, you can really explore on your own terms. And, let me think, I didn’t really have a downfall. I was really happy with both of the departments in the concentrations I chose to study.

How was going from an international school to an American college academically?
It was very, very different. At first, I found that the relationships with professors were very different. The main difference between Brown and my high school in Italy is that there are much more opportunities to engage with the professors and there is definitely a higher level of support, because of the whole university environment. For example, I can have tutoring, I can have the TA’s go over stuff with me. It’s much more of an integrated system.

The biggest change for me was going from a non-curved system to a system with grades. In Italy, the grades I would receive would be at face value and out of 10. It’s all curved here which was very tough for me. I was used to having transcripts where my average GPA was an 8.4/10, which here would be a B -, but here if you are in the upper 80th percentile you’ll probably get an A in the classes I take. So, in that sense, it was an easy transition because I profited from it.

Male Economics Concentrator C/O 2018

Is there anything that you feel your department does especially well or especially poorly?
I think the professors are really good and they do a good job of explaining the material. I think the professors have a lot of experience in academia, but I think they could offer more course options at the higher level, possibly more courses that are applicable professionally. I know it’s a liberal arts school and there’s no real big finance major, but it’d be nice to have some more finance related courses and bring in professors with real-world experience. My favorite professor from my corporate finance class had been in the private sector for a long time and I think that adds credibility when you’re teaching a course like that.

Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s very, very collaborative. Everybody’s always happy to help. In many classes, you have to submit your homework in groups, which really fosters collaboration. Overall, it’s a very collaborative environment and I’ve never heard of anyone not willing to help somebody else.

Social Opportunities

Female History Concentrator C/O 2018

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I would say that Brown has a lot of options but my preferences have changed over the course of my time here. I was definitely into the house party type scene for a while. I’m going to a lot more concerts and shows now. That type of vibe is what I enjoy on campus too. Most of the concerts I go to are off campus, Providence is great for that. There’s a lot of venues that can hold people and there’s a lot of community art so you can always find places where people are playing shows in coffee shops and stuff for pretty cheap. Also, people at Brown who study music or are into music participate in groups. Like, I have a friend that plays in a jazz group and they get together every Wednesday and play for people and it’s really casual. I also have a friend who hosts random techno shows in his basement, so stuff like that can be really fun.

Female History Concentrator C/O 2018

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
This year, because I’m off-campus, I just hang out with my friends at their houses. There is a student bar [the Graduate Center Bar] which I go to once every week or two. I know freshmen and sophomores do a lot of dorm parties. I go out on Fridays and Saturdays to the Graduate Center Bar and bars around Providence because I’m 21. I also go to a lot of events like house parties off campus. When I was a first year I went to more of the downtown clubs and sports houses, but now it’s more like house parties where I know the house and the people in them and also just going to bars in Providence. Other times, we’d just hang out in the dorms and go to Josiah’s for late-night food.

Female Public Health and Biology Double Concentrator C/O 2018

What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
Saturdays for sure, we’ll most often do Fridays, and we’ll sometimes do Wednesdays at this bar called Whiskey Republic, which is 18+.

How happy were you with the nightlife at Brown? Is there anything you would change if you could?
On a scale from 1 to 10, it depends on the semester, but maybe like a 7. I know a lot of people who are more like a 3. I’m fairly easy, I’ll be happy when I’m with my friends. Last year we’d have small parties of like 25 people with my friends and we’d just play games, which is what I prefer anyway. I know a lot of the guys here are like, “Brown is so bust, this is so annoying” and just go to sleep. But they’re just being pessimists.

Campus Culture

Female Health and Human Biology Concentrator C/O 2018

How did you meet your closest friends?
All first years have to live in two main locations and your first year you live with a bunch of other first years. I happened to get along with my roommate really well so I have stuck with her all these years. She’s a really good roommate and a good friend as well. I met most of my closest friends through my housing unit. Other friends I have made different groups that I have participated in, like Questbridge and First-Gens, just seeing people year after year and talking about the struggles of navigating Brown and bonding over mutual stress [laughs]. I think I initially thought that as a first year I would make friends through my classes, but that was not always the case.

How would you describe the overall social scene?
I think many first years and sophomores feel like they haven’t made their friend group and won’t make any more friends because everyone does start of branch off, perhaps even at the start of the second semester [of freshman year]. But, I found that doing a lot of different organizations and getting involved in different things I’ve met a lot of different people. I’ve met someone different and someone who I’ve gotten really close to each year because I’ve done something that I haven’t done before.

Female Public Health and Biology Double Concentrator C/O 2018

How would you describe the social scene at Brown?
There are two ways you can go. Either you’re more of the artsy intellectual vibe and you’re going to be doing stuff like wine and cheese mixers, or you’re going to be partying in your little nerd environment. I’ve been to some of those parties, it’s a good time. Or, you’re going to go the athlete/Greek life route which is where all my friends are. Even if you’re not in Greek life but go out in the stereotypical way of house parties, bars, clubs, etc. you are, as I say, associated parties. Two of my friends who aren’t Greek come to my sorority’s formals. You see the same people out which can be annoying because you’re seeing the same people you’ve talked to before. It’s an interesting thing because you can be at a football party one night and then go to the theater after party after for a different scene.

Female Neuroscience Concentrator C/O 2018

How would you describe the overall social scene at Brown?
I think in general people go out, and I think mostly to dorm parties or house parties, and a few bars and clubs. I don’t think anyone is really that crazy. I don’t think you see people getting completely wasted on a weeknight. I think a lot of people don’t go out and party who are pretty studious on average.

Were there any parts of Brown or American college that surprised you?
This is an issue with Brown students, and I think people at some other universities, but people here are pretty liberal, and I agree with most of the political and social views students have here, I think they’re kind of hypocritical in that they accept one sort of mindset. If anyone has a different view, rather than debating with them and discussing with them, people tend to shut them down. That was something that surprised and disappointed me.

Providence, RI

Pros of

  • “I think it’s a really underrated city in terms of the history and the food. There is a lot of great food and it’s a really interesting place to live.”
  • “It’s pretty fun to live in a city like Providence because it’s very small. Brown sometimes feels like the center of it. When you feel like you’re able to break away from the Brown Bubble and get down there, it’s really easy to navigate by foot.”
  • “You have everything you would get with a city, like all the performers that would go to New York or Boston stop by Providence.”

Cons of

  • “Weather. It’s been freezing this winter and the winter started pretty late so we’re a little bit worried about that it’s April and I’m still in a down coat. If you’re not used to that, it can be tough.”
  • “It’s not super interesting as a city.”
  • “It can be a bit quiet, doesn’t have such a vibrant community, and is not that accessible. It’s much more of a suburban city.”

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Female Public Health Concentrator C/O 2018

What is something you wish you knew about Brown before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I put more thought into fun classes I want to take. You can take anything pass/fail except for major core requirement classes. I wish I put more thought into what classes would make me happy. The classes I chose I took for a grade I ended up hating and being stressed about.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Check out the John Hay Library, it’s my favorite library. It’s the most beautiful study space and it’s not a stressful place to study. Also, leave the hill and walk down and along the river. There’s a beautiful park, Indian Point Park, that’s within walking distance. Because it’s such a small campus, it’s important to leave the hill and see what else is around.

Female History Concentrator C/O 2018

What is something you wish you knew before entering Brown as a freshman?
I wish I knew more about the sort of divide between the athletes and the artistic people. As someone who has tried to bridge that because I’m in less in the traditional athletic scene because my coach encourages us to get involved with other things on campus, it is definitely hard.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I guess going to into a dorm or going Barus and Holley, that’s a really nice building. Also, get a larger feel for Providence by doing things like going down to RISD.

Male Applied Mathematics and Economics Double Concentrator C/O 2018

What is something you wish you knew before entering Brown as a freshman?
I was interested in finance and consulting, and then I kind of found out along the way that Brown doesn’t really have a business school and for some reason they are not really big on finance. I [prepared for finance] mostly by majoring in both math and economics. But I wish I kind of knew that there was this kind of stigma around Brown not really being finance centered, just so I could adapt and maybe work harder along the way to break away from that.

Reasons to attend and not to attend Brown University

To Attend

  • “The open curriculum and lack of requirements you have to take. I think that really means that people who are in a class want to be there because there are no base requirements. It also lets you explore different course options. If you’re not sure what you want to do, you can take whatever classes you want.”
  • “There are Engaged Scholars courses here where you have to do a community service component where you have to do some of the stuff you are studying and I think that’s really unique and great.”
  • “The collaborative energy. The student body is so friendly and collaborative, it changes the college experience.”
  • “I think people are very talented and intelligent and you can really find all sorts of students here. Everyone has something to say which is really nice.”

To Not Attend

  • “I think that the open curriculum is great, but it can overwhelming if you don’t know what you want to study or don’t know what you want to do. Having a lack of direction can be tough.”
  • “The political correctness culture.”
  • “Absolute lack of school spirit in athletics. If you’re into sports, it’s going to be disappointing.”
  • “If you’re looking for a school that’s extremely pre-professional, Brown is not that type of place. People come to Brown because they want to experience college and learn for the sake of learning.”
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