An Interview On
Brown University

Background

Interview Date:April 2018

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: White
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2018
High School Experience: Co-ed private school of about 120 students in Manhattan, New York
Concentration: History
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a student-athlete, I write for the Brown Political Review, I’m part of the Brown Entrepreneurship Program, and am involved with the National Center for Entrepreneurship on campus.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact?
I would say my team and the Brown Entrepreneurship Program. The sports team was first and foremost a defining characteristic of my time at Brown because of the community I made there and the time I spent with those people practicing and traveling. The Brown Entrepreneurship Program provided me the space to develop myself as a leader and a collaborator and in a subject I’m passionate about and interested in.

What is the Brown Entrepreneurship Program?
It’s a student organization that provides students on College Hill with the resources to learn more about entrepreneurship and starting their own business. We’re just learning from others who have started their businesses and ventures whether it’s through grants or summer opportunities or through student-run conferences where we invite different speakers to come and lead workshops related to entrepreneurship and starting your own company. Throughout the year, we also have numerous speakers that come on more on a week to week basis. It’s more to foster an innovative spirit on campus and to help those interested in learning about entrepreneurship.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for History?
It’s a lot of papers and essays. Usually, it’s 3-4 shorter papers throughout the semester and one or two longer papers, and maybe some classes have two papers and two midterms and a final, so it depends on the course. Usually, it’s a combination of having some very lengthy papers and midterms.

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.

What has been your favorite class in your concentration?
My favorite class is this history class on medieval Iberia. It’s about Islam, Christianity, and Judaism in medieval Iberia. It was taught by this history professor who is currently on sabbatical, but she was a great lecturer. Every lecture was like a TED talk. She’s super engaging. It was definitely intense because you had to do all of the reading and had to really focus on the papers but I learned a lot. I still remember a lot of what I learned.

What has been your least favorite class in your major?
My least favorite class was on globalization and social conflict. I took it when I was a freshman and it was very theoretical and kind of esoteric. I also think I shouldn’t have taken it as a class because it was more of an upper-level sociology class so I probably wasn’t ready to take that class. It was just kind of dry and not that stimulating.

Some people at Brown have said that the open curriculum allowed them to take classes that they are not prepared for, do you think that happened to you?
I’ve taken classes in different departments that I didn’t have that much background knowledge in because I was interested in taking those classes. So, if I was taking a class I wasn’t very prepared for I knew that going in. I wouldn’t say that I have taken a class in a different department that I was really not qualified for because when students shop classes, the open curriculum allows you to learn from so many different departments and take the initiative to take other types of classes, but you also know what you’re getting yourself into by taking something out of your area of expertise. So, I wouldn’t say that I was unprepared in a negative way from those other courses I took outside of history.

Why did you choose your concentration? Are you happy with your choice?
Well, as I mentioned, just the amazing professors that are in the History department, and I have a lot of interests in history but also have a lot of interests outside of it. I was actually planning on double concentrating in History and Applied Math until last year. The History degree has allowed me to take a lot of math, science, and economics courses, which if I did a degree like engineering with a higher number of requirements, I wouldn’t have the freedom to take a variety of interesting classes.

How was managing your coursework and athletic schedule?
It was definitely challenging at times. The amount of time that you spend at practice and team meals and getting treatment it really is a huge time commitment, but it also has taught me how to be productive in a short amount of time. Now we’re out of season, so we finished our season like three or four weeks ago, it’s always an adjustment to have so much time because you feel like you have all the time in the world to do your work. I often feel less productive with that being the case. I like having a more regimented schedule to help me out with what I’m going to do each day. You do have to enjoy the sport and hopefully love your teammates and love aspects of being on the team. That will overpower the time commitment it takes.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: I lived in Keeney quad in Everett in a double.

Sophomore: Diamond House in a double.

Junior: I was abroad first semester and then I lived in 257 Thayer street.

Senior: Off-campus in a house on Angel Street.

What was your favorite living situation?
Diamond sophomore year was great it was really centrally located and close to the Ratty [Sharpe Refectory Dining Hall]. Now obviously living off campus is fun but it’s different. It’s both a positive and negative thing, you feel like an adult and older. It’s fun, you get to cook and stuff, but you also do feel a little bit more disconnect from campus life and you have to make an effort to go to the green and what not. Also, people are a bit more spread out because they’re not all in the same dorm.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve felt pretty safe on campus. There are usually security guards for a safe lock. I feel less safe if I’m like walking back from an off-campus party late at night. On campus is safe, but honestly off-campus is generally pretty safe as well.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Red Stripe is a great one, and Bacaro is a really nice one for a family meal.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I like going to different coffee shops on Wickenden Street and to the RISD Museum.

Pros and cons of being in Providence?
Pros: I think that 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 very, very easy to take the train to the Boston area and the airport is close by.

Cons: It may be a little sketchy at times in parts of downtown Providence.

Social Opportunities

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.

What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
I would say either Wednesday or Thursday and then Friday or Saturday. It’s like two to three times a week.

How happy are you with Brown’s nightlife? Is there anything you would change?
I’ve been pretty happy. It’s definitely better now being 21 and being able to go hang out with friends at a bar and not worry about getting drinks. I would say it does get kind of repetitive freshman and sophomore year, especially when you don’t know that many people. But it does make for a lot of fun random nights where you hang out with your friends and go to Josiah’s at the end of the night. It’s a mixed bag, but overall, I’m pretty happy with the nightlife.

What have been your favorite days or nights at Brown?
Freshman and Sophomore year Spring Weekend was really fun, and just the springtime in general when it’s nice out, unlike today when it’s 40 degrees and raining. I mean just like the really nice days on the main green just hanging out and being outside. Before winter break when there are a lot of holiday-themed parties is fun too.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I’d say living in Keeney my freshman year, most of my friends are from Keeney. I also met people through classes.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Brown?
I would say you have your athletes and then you have more of the artsy crowd. There is definitely a divide between them, but you also have various other groups of people in other clumps that are defined by extracurricular involvement. But I would say the biggest divide is between varsity athletes and those who aren’t.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I would say it’s pretty white, but it’s definitely diverse, but it’s pretty white. And then in terms of sexual orientation, definitely more people are heterosexual, but it’s an open environment for those who aren’t and there is a good amount [of people who are not heterosexual]. [About 42% of undergraduates are White.]

Do you think that people are happy with their choice of Brown?
I think so, I mean there’s always something wrong with the school. Brown is nice but it’s not that special. Like I’m sure other schools are the same. For me, I feel most regretful about financial aid. That has really not been helpful and I could have had better financial aid at other schools. But overall, I think in terms of academics and social life people are pretty happy.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yeah, actually my summer internship this summer was through Brown. Also, being an athlete, there’s definitely a network through that.

What have you used the career office for? How helpful were they?
I would say the career lab has a lot of room for improvement, but there are lots of listings for summer internships and full-time jobs. I didn’t really use the career office that much.

Have you learned any computer programs that will be especially helpful professionally?
Not particularly at Brown, but that’s because I haven’t taken any Computer Science classes or business classes. I learned Excel through a summer job.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

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.

Reasons to attend Brown:
1) The intellectual vigor of the school is great
2) You are able to get involved in all sorts of different activities without feeling judged
3) Providence is a really cool place to attend college.
4) The amazing faculty that Brown has and the events they offer and the speakers that come.

Reasons to not attend Brown:
1) It can be hard socially and I’ve heard from friends and friends of friends that if you have a mental health issue or if you need to take time off Brown can be harsh about you coming back to campus.
2) I think that the open curriculum is great but it can be 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.

Notice: Brown University is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Brown University.

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