Listen to a Student’s View of Brown University
Brown University is a school in many dreams. Aspirants dream about Brown not only because it is in the Ivy League, but also because of its open curriculum. For over fifty years, Brown has probably offered the most flexible education that you can get at a mid-sized research university. Brown University does not have majors, only concentrations. You can use the first two years of your education to discover which concentrations you want to finish. It’s quite possible to graduate with two, even three.
Get a good picture of the student experience
I could not get to Brown this spring, so I asked a student to take you through the Brown University experience. Joie Mills, a junior Political Science major from Charlotte, North Carolina, will tell you what she likes most about Brown. She will tell you about her academics and extracurricular experiences. I have known Joie’s parents for over three decades, which is how I got the opportunity to speak with her. Listen to this video. Joie is a very articulate, bright and talented young woman who will become a fine attorney after she finishes law school.
I’m going to offer some additional thoughts to help people who might like Brown, based on Joie’s impressions, among others. I have helped people with admissions to Brown, and schools that might appear similar
The open curriculum is offered by no other Ivy League school.
That’s an important point, because each Ivy is different. Columbia has a structured core curriculum, over half of the credits are required courses, leaving no room to double major. Penn and Cornell are divided into several schools, more like larger public universities. Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Dartmouth are liberal arts and engineering schools with their own required courses.
Brown’s open curriculum offers more freedom than other Ivies. But it comes with great responsibility. You must graduate with a concentration offered by the university, or work closely with the faculty to design your own. Brown operates on a four-course semester. That gives you an opportunity to take eight to 12 courses before your second semester sophomore year. You will need at least two, likely three courses in your concentration by the end of that semester to be sure that you will graduate on time.
If you are sold on Brown and the open curriculum, chances are that you will like Columbia or the larger schools a lot less. You might also be interested in liberal arts colleges like Amherst that also have an open curriculum.
Brown is not the “sports school” of the Ivy League.
Brown recently dropped nine varsity sports. But the university had won less than three percent of Ivy League team titles over the past ten years. The football team has won or shared the Ivy League title only four times since 1878. While Brown was in the Elite Eight in the very first NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament in 1939, the team has made only five post-season appearances since then. Brown’s most successful sport might be women’s hockey. The university founded the very first program in the country in 1964, and had one of the best teams through the 1990s. Brown has also produced seven Olympians in women’s hockey. But the last NCAA tournament appearance came in 2012.
Brown is less “city” than Columbia, Harvard, Penn or Yale.
You get a taste of urban life of urban life at Brown, on your terms, when you want it. But you’ll be surrounded by city life at these other four Ivies. Brown is located within a historic district in Providence called College Hill. The university shares the neighborhood with the Rhode Island School of Design. Both campuses are open, and students who attend one will take courses at the other. You can hang out off campus in College Hill. Or cross the bridges over the Providence River to go downtown for shopping or concerts.
Listen to Joie. Learn all that can about Brown University. Do not rush into applying to Brown, even if you commit to applying Early Decision. Each Ivy is unique, and the essays require research and attention to show why you are the right fit. I’ve also collected a few pictures of Brown to give you a look.
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Want to know more about me? Check out these podcasts!
Listen to my talk, College Is A Learning AND Living Community, hosted by Dr. Cynthia Colon from Destination YOUniversity on Voice of America Radio!
Listen to my talk, What Exactly Is a Good College? hosted by test-prep experts Amy Seeley and Mike Bergin on Tests And The Rest!