Brown University
Providence, RI, USA

Reviews

Brown University
4.19 Average Rating

Nicole from Providence, RI

a current student here
43 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
Brown University really emphasizes the learning experience for undergraduate students. With no core curriculum, students have the opportunity to explore courses in fields they would not have the opportunity to at other colleges. As a result, a student can obtain as specific or as broad an education as he or she chooses. Additionally, with the option to take courses for a grade, or pass/fail, Brown takes off the competitive pressure and simply encourages its students to try different things and put themselves out of their comfort zone without running the risk of damaging one's transcript and resume for graduate school education. But learning at Brown goes well beyond the classroom - almost all of which are taught directly by professors as opposed to teaching assistants, and which vary in size to accommodate all modes of learning. The extracurricular opportunities at Brown are incredible. There are a lot of service programs through the Swearer Center or other organizations, as well as many opportunities to learn about new subjects - whether that be through attending a guest lecture or debate, or just walking through the main green to see the displays.
Am enjoying being here
The great thing about Brown is the amount of support provided by faculty, staff and fellow students. Your experience at Brown is only as competitive as you choose to make it, and the resources here for academics, social and personal life are really great. Additionally, there is a lot of fun stuff to do at Brown - there are great clubs, and some of the most amazing a capella and theatre. There's even an organization designed specifically for fun events. The Special Events Committee (SPEC) puts on shows, get-togethers, even a carnival on the main green for people to just sit back and relax. Additionally, Spring Weekend brings some pretty big name artists to campus for an exclusive two day concert just for Brown Students.
Bang for the buck
Undoubtedly the experience Brown can give you is well worth it, and it only takes a mere glance at what alums are currently doing to see that Brown gives people opportunities unlike many other colleges. However, financial aid is a very real concern for a lot of students. The office of Financial Aid is willing to work with you to get the most amount of aid possible, and they are willing to hear you out if you feel that something needs changing. However, as the school relies on federal regulations, some might find that the amount of institutional aid given is not enough.
Tips for prospective students
Brown is a great school but can be a little intimidating if you don't have an idea of what you want to concentrate in. While freshman year is an excellent chance to explore classes and organizations to find out what you are really passionate about, make sure to consult your advisors and peers and professors for some direction. If you're planning on coming to Brown, be prepared to work hard but also have a lot of fun. Any ivy league can be extremely stressful, but take advantage of the resources available, and Brown can be an amazing experience for you.
Great for these types of students
I feel Brown is an awesome school for students who don't want to be constricted by a core curriculum, but would rather shape their own curricular path. There are requirements for each concentration, but the amount of freedom to really add a specific focus to a concentration is tremendous here. While there are so many people ready to lend a helping hand, this is definitely a school for those who can find their own direction without being told exactly what to do.
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Brown Student

a current student here
27 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
It is very hard to describe Brown in three sentences; Brown is beyond amazing. Brown is a community, a melting pot, an institution to learn, and a hub of activity, but most of all, Brown is home. The people here are friendly and diverse, with different interests and from all over the world; professors are passionate, knowledgeable, and helpful; and Brown constantly holds events for students like Heavy Petting and Fall Fest with lots of free stuff!
Tips for prospective students
Definitely be at the top of your game, but don't stress. Be yourself. Brown wants diverse, intelligent, unique, and curious students. You don't have to be well-rounded. You don't have to be in sports. They want you as you. Not a cookie-cutter version of what people think colleges want: overachieving, musical and sporty geniuses who are involved in every single club and volunteer 24/7. Just be the very best you you can be.
Academic Rigor
Brown has a perfect balance. Yes, the material is challenging, but it's not impossible nor is it too easy. Since Brown has an open curriculum, you choose what you want to do, and what you want to take. This makes classes so much more enjoyable, and the homework may be something you look forward to doing.
Dorm Life
Dorms are very spacious, with shelves or armoires and desks. Some dorm rooms have the two areas separated by a wall, which is perfect for privacy! The facilities are also kept clean, and kitchens (and sometimes kitchen supplies) are available. There are also dorm unit events near the beginning of the year to help you get to know everyone.
Food and Dining
With six dining halls, there is always a lot to choose from at all hours. Vegan and kosher meals are also available. Overall, the food is pretty good and having variety helps keep students from getting food boredom, but if that does happen, a short walk takes students to several restaurants on Thayer Street.
What to do for fun
There is so much to do. Brown offers a variety of activities like ballroom dancing, martial arts, community service opportunities, etc. Brown is also in a central location; the mall and Thayer Street is a short walk away. RISD is also right there; we can see the museum for free! Wandering the streets around campus is also fun. There are curio shops, thrift stores, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants.
Bang for the buck
It all depends on if you know where to go. Overall, the New England area is pricey as is, but there are some stores where you can get a lot for a reasonable price.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
1) Naked Doughnut Run during Reading Period
2) If you kiss under Soldiers Arch, you'll get married.
3) Passing through the Van Wickle gates more than twice (at convocation and graduation) causes bad luck.
4) The midnight organ concert on Halloween.
5) Heavy Petting
6) Josiah Carberry never existed...
Great for these types of students
Students who are self-motivated, driven, and, most of all, curious are a really good fit for Brown.
Clubs and Activities
So many! We have over 300 groups, organizations, and clubs ranging a variety of interests: singing, media, comedy, sports, cultural, drama, dancing, literature, community service, and so much more.
Campus Safety
Everything is very secure. It takes an ID swipe to get into all the dorms (and even then, it has to be your dorm) and into certain buildings. The campus police are also around patrolling. At night, we also have a variety of ways to stay safe like calling the SafeWalk, Brown On Call, or taking the shuttle.
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bananagrammar

a current student here
23 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
I am learning a lot not only about math and science and history, but about the world around me. Brown has introduced me to people from so many different places; it's interesting to hear about high school experiences that differed so much from my own. Brown students are incredibly aware of the world around them, and there is always some sort of awareness-raising activity on campus. I’m also learning a lot about myself: my work ethic, my personal beliefs, my political opinions.
Am enjoying being here
As a freshman, it’s hard to differentiate between enjoying the college experience and enjoying the Brown college experience, but I really am enjoying school. I’ve made amazing friends, and it’s a liberating experience (especially at Brown.) You choose when and what you want to eat, whether or not to sleep, how long you should shower, and what, when, where, and how you want to study. And you’d think that would be an issue, everyone studying at their own leisure, but in reality Brown students all want to learn, so they make time. The only problem with school is that you always miss someone: at school, you miss your family, and at home, you miss your friends. Aside from that inescapable factor, I’d give this category a million stars if I could.
Bang for the buck
Brown is really, really expensive. But it is a great education, and you meet fantastic people and are given unbelievable opportunities. The housing’s not too bad and the food isn’t either... Brown probably isn’t worth what they’re charging, but then, what school is?
Tips for prospective students
College applications are unpredictable. I honestly do not understand how the whole system works, and probably never will. Show your enthusiasm for learning, cross your fingers, and take a deep breath: good luck!
Great for these types of students
This may be biased, but I’ve met a lot of closet dorks here at Brown. There are also, as I mentioned, many activists, in every category: politics, the environment, educational reform, homosexual rights, animal rights.. everything! Brown students are people who want to learn and want to change something about the world.
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Matthew from Ludlow, MA

a current student here
23 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
With a lack of a core curriculum and no general education classes, Brown emphasizes a sense of independent and diverse learning opportunities that it are unparalleled. The large variety of classes and departments available allow students to take classes spanning several different subject areas. Brown is truly unique in its educational character. If you want to learn about something, the chances are very good that there is a place at Brown to do it. Classes, as well as their professors, are meant to challenge students while evoking a deeper understanding of material and concepts. Professors are almost always available and enthusiastic. Overall, Brown University is a place of immense intellectual growth.
Am enjoying being here
The atmosphere at Brown is unique of its diverse and enthusiastic student. Most all students are happy to be on campus and eager meet a wide range of people. The Brown campus is always active; whether there is a famous guest speaker to listen to or an impromptu campus party thrown together by friends, there is always something happening at Brown. Brown is an extremely liberal place - both politically and socially. In fact, so much so that the liberalism of the school can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming to conservatives or moderates. Nevertheless, nearly everyone enjoys living at Brown as evidenced by the many smiling and laughing faces you see walking throughout the campus.
Bang for the buck
Brown is definitely very expensive with the overall cost hovering just over 50k per year. However, as a member of the Ivy League, Brown is also one of the most respected institutions in both the United States as well as the World. Brown students are guaranteed a world class education and social atmosphere that will undoubtedly elicit personal growth.
Tips for prospective students
The best things that a prospective student can do is come to Brown with an open mind and get involved around campus. If you come to Brown eager for new experiences, there is no telling where the institution may take you in life. The opportunities here at Brown are truly boundless, but they only present themselves to those who are ready to seek them out and accept them.
Great for these types of students
-Liberal
-Eager
-Politically Aware and Active
-Ambitious
-Outgoing
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Josette from Providence, RI

a current student here
16 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
I am actually learning a lot more than I expected to, and not just about classes. I came to Brown thinking I knew what I wanted to do (anthro and East Asian Studies) and the classes I have taken here have introduced so much more to me. I am shopping departments right now and would major in 4 majors if I could, haha.

The absolute best part of Brown is the control you have over your experience. For example, I only just finished my first semester and I've already collaborated with about 7 other people in creating a class that we'll take next semester. There are hundreds of ways to get involved in activities of your own creation here.

I am learning how to live in a community of people more diverse (in every sense, whether it be about politics or place of origin) than any I have ever lived in, I am learning how to see myself in relation to others (as they say, you go from above average to amongst incredibly achieved people), I am learning how to negotiate what I want and still compromise, and I am learning the good 'ole book knowledge I came here for.

My first semester just ended and I took a class on graphic novels (comic books, essentially), introduction to modern culture and media, intermediate Chinese, and United States culture. The best part is, the skills I'm learning in each class (how to write to the standards of different professors, how to manage my time, how read efficiently, how to communicate ideas within a particular discipline) in addition to the material proves useful in all my other classes as well.
Am enjoying being here
It's a bit overwhelming, as is to be expected of my first semester, but it is definitely fun as well as challenging.

The best part, outside of academics, is my extracurriculars. Brown has something for everyone. This year I am on the Japanese drumming (Taiko) team, I tutor a refugee from East Africa, I am on the steering committee for a political group for Taiwan-China relations, and I am in the black women's club on campus.

As I mentioned earlier, I especially enjoy the control I have over my experience. That freedom is what creates the happy atmosphere here on campus. Everyone is wondering where their lives will take them and are trying as many paths as possible.
Bang for the buck
The financial aid policy at Brown is fantastic in my opinion. Not only that, but what we get for the money is phenomenal too. World-class professors, a community of students who have spent their lives enriching others and themselves, a great campus to hang out at, numerous grants for student-created initiatives (ie, they give you money to pursue a project of your own creation), an office to deal with your every need, etc.
Tips for prospective students
Don't be afraid to let go a little of who you are now in order to become someone even better. The future is always a bit scary, but it should be more exciting than anything else. Brown is one of the best places in the world to explore any and all walks of life.
Great for these types of students
-independent
-cooperative
-ready to take control
-lots of initiative
-open-minded
-love to discuss ideas
-not afraid to take risks
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Vivian from South Windsor, CT

a current student here
14 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Brown University is a great place to expand not only your knowledge in academia but also your personal context in the world. This university is a place of diversity and freedom. The students, faculty, staff, and courses are all wonderful attributes to the Brown community.
Tips for prospective students
Prepare to expand your mind. Openness to new ideas and to a new approach on learning are key to succeeding.
Academic Rigor
Attending Brown University means being challenged academically, but it also means that there are ample resources available to succeed. Taking advantage of these resources is necessary to do well in rigorous courses.
Dorm Life
Usually students feel that the dorm experience is very welcoming their freshman year, and many form tight and lasting bonds with their hall-mates. For those who never particularly found closeness within their dorm, many great opportunities exist for a better social atmosphere, including clubs, groups, program housing, and greek life.
Food and Dining
The food at Brown is sub-par. The Ratty (the main dining hall) usually contains unfortunately overcooked, dry, or awkwardly-seasoned materials. Sadly, the fault lies in the fact that the dining services try to achieve fancy dishes that end up being, frankly, very off. If there was one tip I would give Brown's dining services it would be try for simplicity. People like just plain mashed potatoes, plain steam vegetables, and well-cooked, unadulterated meat options.
What to do for fun
Living in at Brown means being stationed safely atop College Hill and yet being in close enough proximity to all of the fun available in a charming city like Providence. Also, Thayer St. is a renowned stretch of restaurants, shopping, and fun right on campus. Students can be found going to clubs, restaurants, or even the Providence Place Mall that is a 15 minute walk from campus. Several movie theaters are nearby and even a sky-diving company. Usually students have more than enough entertainment on campus, but there are quite a few options beyond that if one so desires.
Bang for the buck
Brown University's Financial Aid is very fair in relation to a family's financial status.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
Students, upon their first week at school, walk through the Van Wickle Gates. It is tradition that upon graduation, students walk back out of the gates, signifying their entrance into the world as fully-fledged Brown Alums.

Another bizarre tradition includes Brown's Naked Donut Run. During finals, a secret society of nude students will go around the libraries at an undisclosed time to deliver donuts to the studying students.


Great for these types of students
Liberal, diverse, and open-minded students. (But the university as a whole is very accepting of anyone.)
Clubs and Activities
There are too many clubs and activities to count. The hockey rink hosts all of the clubs and activities at a fair twice a year.
Greek Life
Greek life at Brown is quite small. With a handful of fraternities, co-eds, and sororities, it makes up a minority of the school's population. As a member of greek life on campus, I have found that it has only enhanced my experience. Hazing (from my experience in sorority life) is nonexistent, and the community engendered from being a part of such a group and the greek community at large just provides more opportunity for close-knit relationships, social experiences, networking, and philanthropy on campus.
Campus Safety
Brown campus safety has a noticeable presence on campus. Blue lights, campus shuttles, and patrolling officers and security guards provide the students with a safe atmosphere.
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Brown Student

a current student here
13 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Academic Rigor
Challenging but in the perfect way
Dorm Life
Some smaller than others, all depends on what dorm you get
Some more convenient locations than others
Food and Dining
Assorted dining halls for different styles of food and eating, can find whatever you want either on campus or off campus
What to do for fun
Have the whole city of Providence to explore, plus easy access to Boston and other nearby cities
Also TONS of events on campus all the time
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
Midnight Organ Concerts, Walking through Van Wickle gates for convocation and commencement, Spring Weekend (concerts)
Clubs and Activities
Hundreds of clubs and easy to start a new one! Club fair at the beginning of each semster
Greek Life
3 sororities, if you are interested, it's easy to get involved, also very easy to have a social life without being involved
Campus Safety
Crossing guards and Brown evening/daytime shuttle as well as blue light system on campus, still an open campus and have to be self-aware
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Edward from Livonia, MI

a current student here
11 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
Brown’s educational experience is excellent and lives up to its Ivy League reputation. With about 6000 undergraduates, Brown’s size strikes the perfect balance between a small college with informal classes and professors who know your name and a large school with a wide variety of options and opportunities. The famed Open Curriculum allows for a good deal of exploration and vastly reduces the number of classes that you must suffer through just because they are required. It is not a perfect system, as there are some concentrations (majors) that have a lot of requirements or have mandatory intro-level classes that nobody likes, but compared to the restrictive distribution requirements at other colleges it is quite flexible. The lack of grade modifiers (+/-) and D’s means that I can usually focus on learning from my classes instead of making sure I get enough percentage points to have a good GPA. Finally, I’ve found that even courses that have a reputation for being easy still end up teaching me new and interesting things, simply because the average quality of Brown classes is so high.
Am enjoying being here
I don’t usually put much stock in college rankings, but there's a reason Brown is consistently rated #1 for “happiest students.” The best part about Brown is how friendly and accepting the people are. No matter what your interests, you can find a group of friends that shares them, and no matter how lost you are as a freshman, you can find someone to help you out. There is a wide variety of extracurricular and social activities, so that even if you don’t like the traditional wild frat party you can find something fun to do with your free time. Other students in my classes are helpful and cooperative, and since there is little pressure to have perfect grades no one is very competitive. I find a similarly easygoing attitude in social activities, where there is very little pressure to conform because there is so much diversity (both cultural and personality). Although it’s true that (despite the ranking) not everyone at Brown is happy all the time, I find that even when I’m not all that happy I still feel glad that I’m going to Brown because the people around me are so nice.
Bang for the buck
On paper, Brown is incredibly expensive, like any other Ivy League school. Also like any other Ivy League school, many students end up paying less than the “sticker price” because Brown’s financial aid meets most of a student’s demonstrated need with scholarships and grants, not loans. However, I feel that in comparison to the other Ivy Leagues (and to other elite colleges that have need-based-only financial aid), Brown’s Financial Aid Office is on the stingy side, and has a reputation for expecting students to pay more than they can really afford. Most Brown students, myself included, put up with the high cost because they know they’re getting a world-class education and love the community too much to live anywhere else. And it’s true that even with a traditionally “unmarketable” concentration like History or English, any Brown graduate has good career options simply because they have a Brown degree. Nevertheless, I feel it’s worth noting that Brown can end up being quite expensive even for a student who gets financial aid.
Tips for prospective students
If you want to get in to Brown, don’t worry about having perfect grades and a long list of accomplishments and accolades. While a good academic record is pretty much a prerequisite, the qualities that most often distinguish Brown students are their depth of character and passionate interest in some pursuit, even a non-academic one. Focusing on your unique personal qualities and experiences, and the commitment you show to one or two of your interests, may be the best way to write a successful application.
Great for these types of students
- Open-minded
- Curious
- Independent
- Self-motivated
- Friendly and social
- Flexible
- Interested in the learning experience, not career preparation
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Quinn Li from Canajoharie, NY

a current student here
8 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
The perfect word for Brown is nonpareil, as in it is completely unmatched in the world of colleges. I honestly feel that there is such a collection of classes, students, opportunities, and experiences unique to only Brown that makes it special beyond belief. The freedom and diversity here allow for self discovery, world-class education, and a sense of belonging.
Tips for prospective students
Be yourself. Brown cares more about the student holistically than the other Ivies. They really evaluate you as the student, applicant, and then what numbers you bring to the school. Mention that funny experience you had when you first tried to bake a cake or the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you in a supplement. They've received thousands of the self-inflating essays that students have stretched to make themselves seem like the best insert-quality-that-they-think-the-colleges-are-looking-for student. In the end though, through personal experience and much comparing of essays, I've found the kids at Brown wrote about things as mundane as breaking bones, trying foreign foods, and taking math tests.

Also, be confident. Don't try to change yourself for a school . Chances are you won't like it there if you have to pretend to be someone else.
Academic Rigor
That depends. Brown's open curriculum leaves a lot of responsibility up to the students. You can take three classes per semester all pass-fail or you can take five per semester all for a grade in subjects with which you are not familiar. It's up to you, but that's the beauty of it. You really do design your own college experience.
Dorm Life
Freshman housing just got redone as part of a massive multi-million dollar renovation project. The dorms are much larger than most and extremely nice, with awesome kitchens and lounges.
Food and Dining
The food is good but it gets repetitive in the dining halls. The key is to use meal credits at other places like Joe's or the Blue Room. But you'll learn more about that when you arrive in September ;).
What to do for fun
So much. Clubs, concerts (both on and off campus), sports, movies, socializing, partying, shopping, pretty much whatever you want.
Bang for the buck
Worth every penny,
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
The Naked Donut Run- During finals, a group of naked people visits the most popular study spots and hands out donuts.
Spring Weekend- A weekend in the spring where BCA brings awesome performers to Brown and we all partake in--uhm- some mild debauchery.
Great for these types of students
Students who know exactly what they want to do with their lives or ones who have no clue. Students who are good at motivating them selves. Oh- and you must be open to meeting people. Brown is so social!
Clubs and Activities
Too many to keep up with.
Greek Life
Small but existent. The frats party. The sororities throw events. It's more of another set of clubs though instead of a group that run the school.
Campus Safety
There's the blue light system that's common with most campuses and there are shuttles and on-call Brown vehicles to come drive us around. There is also a program called safe-walk where you can have other students walk with you so that you aren't alone and the Brown Police (the Bro-Po) and the Emergency services are both good.

That being said, there have been several small muggings in the past semester. However, I personally have never felt threatened while at Brown.
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Logan from Columbus, OH

researching this school
6 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
I love the diversity of Brown. The community is so supportive and encouraging of one another, and are truly interested into getting to know you.
What to do for fun
There are a variety of clubs and sports to join. You could take the metro to Boston or walk to the mall- which is right down the street.
Campus Safety
Although Providence has a high crime rate, Brown excels at ensuring its students feel safe at all times.
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