A Journey to the East Coast: Brown University

Hello once again!

Before reading this, you might want to check out the two posts I did before this: one on Harvard University and one on Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

So, on the 23rd of August, my uncle and I went to Providence, RI in order to attend Brown University’s info session and tour. Now, if I have to be honest, I’ll say that Brown was my favorite among the four (or five, if you count driving around the campus late at night) universities that I visited during my holiday. What appealed to me the most about Brown was how the students are given liberty on what courses they would like to take. For instance, let’s say that if you’re a Brown student, you will need to take 10 courses to graduate. If your major were Law, you’d have to complete, let’s say, 4 courses under the law department (no specific course, as long as it is under that department) in order to graduate as a law student, and for the 6 remaining courses, you get to choose which courses you want to take. Therefore, your studies depend completely on yourself. Of course, they will assign you to certain advisors so that you won’t regret taking certain courses, but in the end, it will still be your choice whether you want to take the advised courses or not. A lot of people see this as a way to sort of tailor their own majors. If you want to be a computer science student who, for instance, also wants to learn a lot about British Literature; well then you can take the required computer science courses and then complement that with as many literature courses as you want. Hence, you have complete freedom on what to take. Brown’s fourth president, Francis Wayland, says that a Brown student should “study what he chose, all that he chose, and nothing but what he chose.” I personally thought that this system is pretty cool, because… well, you can do whatever you want. Study whatever you want. If you completely hate Biology like I do, then don’t take Biology. Then again… this type of college system will only fit into certain types of people. If you’re a Brown student, you will probably have to have the ability to choose properly and be really disciplined. Even if you want to be a scientist, there are other things besides Science that you will have to master before you can be successful. (For more about Brown’s New Curriculum, click here.)

Another thing that I noted about Brown was that the atmosphere was really happy and cheerful. The college campus is really green; there are trees everywhere. The tour guide from Brown (who was a Brown student) was really funny, so this might have biased my opinions, but Brown was actually rated as the happiest college in 2010 by Princeton Reviews, so I guess my feeling is spot on.

An interesting fact to ponder on about Brown is that Brown University really focuses on its undergrads. They only have 8,500 students, and roughly 6,300 of them are undergrads. Also, they were the only college in which in the info session, they actually mentioned, “transfer students.” This gave me of actually transferring to Brown, because if they mentioned transferring, well, then transferring must be pretty common here.

In regards to the physical shape of the campus, besides being really green, the buildings were, same as MIT, a mix of old and new buildings. They had buildings that looked like castles too, but for the most, the inside of the buildings looked pretty modern.

This is "the closest thing [Brown] has to Hogwarts."

Daniel, our tour guide, says that “It is rumored that if two people kiss under this arch at midnight, one of them will get pregnant, regardless of whether that person is a boy or girl!”

I can actually go on and on about Brown, but I feel I’m kind of biased towards Brown because it’s my favorite university among the four. So.. don’t forget to come back tomorrow and check out my post on Columbia University!



3 thoughts on “A Journey to the East Coast: Brown University

  1. I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts about these East Coast colleges, especially this one. I went to Brown and think that you’ve captured its spirit of promoting academic independence very well! One thing i’d say is that it’s also important to think about the quality of the specific department(s) that you’re interested in. Amazing as Brown is, there are certain areas that it is better in (so the humanities, biology, biomedical engineering, theatre arts, political science…)!

    1. Wow, you’re from Brown? Do you mind sharing a little bit about your experience there? And yes, definitely. I am hoping to major in Computer Science there. Although it’s not exactly one of Brown’s specialties, Brown is ranked #20 in terms of the Computer Science major, so that’s pretty good. I’m also still looking at several universities who excel in the Computer Science department. Thank you for the suggestion though! :)

      1. Cool, I wish I had taken some CS classes while I was at Brown! My concentration was in English, but as is typical of Brown students, I enrolled in many different classes (from physics to cognitive science to history and Japanese)! I loved my time at Brown. The campus atmosphere is relaxed and vibrant, and generally people are very friendly :). (Ok I guess every university will say that on their brochure, but I genuinely feel that Brown students are quite approachable!) I don’t know how far along the application process you are, but let me know if you have any specific qs and I’ll try my best to answer them. All the best!

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