An Interview On
Brown University

Background

Interview Date:April 2018

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian
Graduation Year: 2018
High School Experience: I’m from Bellevue, WA, which is a wealthy suburban city near Seattle. I went to a very good public school. I graduated with 71 students. I knew those kids very well, it was very competitive.
First-Generation College Student: No
Concentrations: Public Health and Biology. I’m on the pre-med track.
Extracurricular Activities: I’m extremely involved in my sorority. Beyond that, I do research downtown on nutrition and I do a yearly trip with Global Brigades where we go to Honduras and run a medical clinic.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your concentration?
It varies semester to semester, but I’m pretty sure every semester I’ve had a lab. That entails having another class on top of what you’re doing, especially in Organic Chemistry where you’ll go in for a five-hour lab session and then spend upwards of twelve hours on the lab report itself. Some labs aren’t that bad, like for Biology the lab session was two hours and the lab report took maybe four. Week to week homework would be readings with a discussion response paper. I don’t have any problem sets this semester, but usually, I would have a chemistry, math, or physics problem set. Sometimes you have problem sessions which are optional where the TA’s lead it and work you through all these types of problems you may see on the exam, those were hugely helpful.

Is there anything you feel the pre-med courses do especially well or poorly?
I think the pre-med courses have an amazing TA system at Brown. I talk to my friends at other schools and they are shocked that I even have problem sessions or that we have free optional tutoring with the TA’s. There’s a randomized waitlist [to get into the sessions if they are full]. It’s amazing the amount of effort the TA’s are putting into these STEM courses across the board. What they do particularly poorly, for entry-level chemistry it’s a new teacher every semester, and that’s the only class that does that. It’s a nightmare because every year is different. I got a C because my teacher gave us the hardest work ever but the semester before everybody got A’s, so that’s frustrating. That only happens in that class. In the intro to biology course, we literally have the man who wrote the AP Biology textbook teaching it.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
The reason I came to Brown is that the students at Brown are so extremely helpful and collaborative, even in classes with a curve where they will be hurt by my success. Students will go out of their way to help you and show you how to do the problem or answer your question. It’s extremely collaborative.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Jameson, which is part of Keeney Quad. I had one roommate and she was awesome. Brown actually listens to the surveys you fill out and we worked out really well.

Sophomore: I lived in Diamond, which was technically my sorority house. Greek life is all housed within regular dorms so it’s not a separate house and there are other people living there too. I had a double within a suite of four doubles that had a common area and a bathroom for the eight of us, which was a lot of fun.

Junior: I lived off campus at 257 Thayer. It’s a new apartment building that’s basically a beautiful dorm building. I had two roommates and we all had our own bedrooms and bathrooms. Having a single was great.

Senior: I live in an off-campus house in an apartment with three of us. A house that’s cut up into apartments is pretty classic Brown off-campus living,

What was your favorite living situation?
I don’t know what was my favorite, either last year or this year. Last year I lived with two other girls in that really nice apartment and we would have parties every Friday and Saturday in our little apartment. But this year is way homier, all of my best friends live on the same floor so I can just go over to their place and lie on their couch for a while.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I love going to dinner in downtown Providence. Because we have Johnson & Wales, which is a culinary school, there is extremely good food. My favorite thing is to literally roll myself down a hill like I’m a blueberry human and go to any of the restaurants around town, particularly Milk Money is amazing. If I’m just trying to walk around or whatever I’d probably go down to Blackstone Boulevard. It’s a street where the median has grass and a walking path. There are always people walking with their dog and there’s a park at the end.

Pros and cons of being in Providence, RI?
I love Providence, I think it’s a great starter city.
Pros: (1) It’s not a huge city, so I don’t ever feel unsafe, and I’m very paranoid.
(2) You have everything you would get with a city, like all the performers that would go to New York or Boston stop by Providence.
(3) You’re 45 minutes from Boston, so I go to Boston every week to take my brother to dinner and I go out there every so often.
(4) Food for sure. The restaurants are just so freaking good it’s hard to pick which one to go to.

Cons: Some people think it’s small. If you’re from New York City or downtown Boston, yeah this is a joke of a city, but I grew up in the suburbs so this is great for me. I can’t really think of any.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I like to participate in any and all nightlife. I go to house parties, sometimes groups will host a club night downtown and I’ll sometimes go to those. Brown nightlife has gotten way shut down compared to when we were freshmen. Now there are maybe one or two parties on a Saturday night and a lot of sports teams throw parties now. Sometimes you’ll get to the party and within twenty minutes it will be busted by Providence or Brown police. [Because of that] we’ll go to the party late night [after it’s been shut down] and hang out with some friends that live there. The big house party scene has been affected, but this semester has been a lot better. It might be coming back up, but there’s still no parties on campus anymore.

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+.

What have been your favorite days or nights at Brown?
I love Whiskey Wednesday at Whiskey Republic, that’s always a great time. Whiskey Republic is your typical college bar. Then the best experience at Brown is always Spring Weekend. It’s a big concert in the spring Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We’ve had Fetty Wap and Waka Flocka Flame. My favorite part of spring weekend isn’t the giant concert we have, my favorite part is Sunday. There is this old dude who’s a one-man band and he plays the best sing-a-longs. He does Wonderwall, the Hokey Pokey, like all the stuff you loved when you were a child.

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

How did you meet your closest friends?
My freshman hall, we got so lucky. Two of my closest friends grew up together and all of us were in the same building. We all just got along really well. We have a lot of different personalities within the group that just make it amazing.

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.

What is the impact of Greek life on social life?
I loved it, it was a hugely positive influence. I never, ever thought I would go into Greek life, especially at Brown. I always made fun of those girls in high school and never thought I would join myself. My freshman fall I met all of these amazing sophomore girls and they were all in the same sorority. There is recruitment in the spring so I was like, “Alright, fine. I’ll give it a try.” I receive personal support, made some of my actual best friends through it, but also career support, like internship advice and resume editing from the older girls in the chapter. That’s why I ended up going into leadership, to kind of give back.

Do you think students of different races and sexual orientations mix socially at Brown?
I think so. There are historically Black fraternities and sororities, so it’s stupid to think that it’s not separated. For example, in my best friend group, the six of us are all white. That being said, our sorority is fairly diverse, like, when I’m going out I’m not texting only white people. I think Brown is very socially aware and socially conscious. People that come to this campus are not the type of people that would only stick to their own race. You come here to be in an environment where you’re going to mix with other people and you’re going to get diverse perspectives.

Do you think people are happy with their choice of Brown by the time they graduate?
I think so, yeah. I think people are very happy and very kind and very inclusive to people that come here. And I think that’s just a reflection of how well-established students become in this institution.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Brown before entering as a freshman?
I would have liked to know more about political correctness at Brown. Like, we often see Facebook posts from your social justice warriors that are shredding somebody apart for something they did that’s problematic, but a lot of the time it’s not intended to be. I get frustrated because like this girl obviously didn’t know that this statue was meant to commemorate slavery, so for her to pose in front of it smiling is not great, but she didn’t know. So why don’t you contact her directly and say, “Hey, I want you to know this photo is not OK for these reasons and I think you should take it down” instead of screenshotting it and hiding behind your screen and shredding her apart. I saw that happen freshman year, and I was so surprised., I would have liked to know more about how you need to be careful what you say and what you do in public.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
What I would do at every college that I visited is I would sit down at a café they had, so for us, it would be the Blue Room which is in the campus center, and I would watch the students. I know that sounds creepy, but if you just people watch for a little in a busy area you can learn a lot about the vibe of the student body and you will see that people here are very friendly and collaborative. More specifically, I think Andrews Commons is a great place to go for lunch because it is a cafeteria, but it is café style and it is in the basement of one of the freshman dorms. Visit it because it’s freshman-heavy and it’s where you spend a lot of time. I would also recommend walking Thayer Street, and if you have a ton of time walk down to Wickenden. We spend a lot of time down there too.

Reasons to attend Brown:
(1) The collaborative energy. The student body is so friendly and collaborative it changes the college experience.
(2) The prestige is huge. You’re going to an Ivy League institution that is going to get you places.
(3) The faculty. You’re [sometimes] being taught by the people wrote the textbooks literally. That’s insane. Why are they teaching intro courses? Because they love it.
(4) Providence. Providence is the best. The food is so good. It’s a beautiful nice little city on the water. It’s not too big, not too small, and it’s close to Boston.
(5) The student body. I like to say that there is no one Brown student. I think what’s unique about Brown is that all the students are extremely passionate about something. And, they’re so willing to help the people around them.
(6) RISD is right here, if you’re artsy you can do amazing stuff there. It’s unreal how [RISD students’] brains work.

Reasons to not attend Brown:
1) Political correctness culture
2) Absolute lack of school spirit in athletics. If you’re into sports it’s going to be disappointing.
3) If you want a big city or a big nightlife you’re not going to get it here. It’s not going to be that typical college environment of partying.

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