Providence, RI: Everybody knows the Ivies have a reputation of attracting a pretentious crowd, but my visit to Brown disproved that stereotype. With its diversity and artistic feel, Brown struck me as a place where I could certainly feel at home. Students demonstrate a drive to learn above a need to show off an Ivy League education.
Brown is considered an urban school, and rightfully so as it is in Providence, although it does manage to maintain a small-school feel. The campus itself is beautiful, sporting the
classic look of the Ivies and the many traditions and funny superstitions expected of an old college.
Brown is perhaps most famous for its open curriculum, a system which may or may not be right for you. Students can choose four or five classes a semester from over 2,000, all taught by Brown’s outstanding faculty. Teaching assistants teach only one course: calculus. This allows the mathematics department to offer many courses and still provide for the vast number of calc courses that need to be offered.
There are no requirements to graduate, and for that reason students are in control of their own education. While advisors help in the process of selecting a path, students are encouraged to be active in the process. Instead of choosing a major, students “concentrate” in an area, though some choose a dual concentrate. The grading options are also unique: any class can be taken pass/fail, encouraging students to try areas without fear of affecting their GPA. Students may also enroll in up to four classes for credit at nearby Rhode Island School of Design.
Campus life at Brown seems just as exciting as its academic possibilities. My tour guide admitted that the food leaves much to be desired, but added that they do provide unlimited condiments. A capella singing groups are extremely popular, as are frequent visits by top speakers.
Overall, Brown seems a place for independent students with the motivation and passion to explore all aspects of the education available to them. For more info, check out brown.edu.