Exploring the Experiences of International Students at Brown University

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Pembroke campus of Brown University surrounded by trees.

Exploring the Experiences of International Students at Brown University

Welcoming applicants from all corners of the globe, Brown University is a hub of cultural diversity and academic excellence. This melting pot of experiences and cultures is home to a sizeable international student body, each bringing something unique to the table. This article aims to delve into the multifaceted journey of being an international student at Brown.

Understanding the International Student Body at Brown University

Brown University, located in Providence, Rhode Island, attracts student talent from around the world. With its renowned academic programs and vibrant campus life, Brown has become a popular destination for international students seeking a global education. Currently, approximately 14% of Brown’s undergraduate student population hails from outside the United States, representing over 100 different countries.

Four students from different races talking and looking at a tablet held by a male student.

At Brown, the international student body is a true reflection of the world’s diversity. From the far Eastern countries of Asia to the vibrant cultures of Africa, Brown’s international student body is an exemplary display of global diversity. Countries like China, India, South Korea, Canada, and the United Kingdom have the highest representation among international students at Brown.

However, it is important to note that Brown also attracts students from smaller countries, creating a nuanced blend of global perspectives on campus.

Demographics and Diversity of International Students

When it comes to demographics, Brown University prides itself on its commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive community. The international student body at Brown represents a wide range of ethnicities, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

This rich tapestry of cultures and experiences not only enhances the academic environment but also promotes cross-cultural understanding and global citizenship.

Within the international student community at Brown, there are various student organizations and clubs that celebrate and promote cultural exchange. These groups organize events, performances, and discussions that allow students to share their traditions, languages, and customs with the wider Brown community.

From Diwali celebrations to Chinese New Year festivities, these cultural events create a sense of belonging and unity among international students.

The Journey to Brown: Admission Processes for International Students

Admissions officers at Brown are familiar with many academic credentials, tests, and educational systems used around the world. They shall examine any unfamiliar foreign systems to comprehend them better.

Even though certain qualifications may be very different from those that are frequently used in the United States, Brown looks for students who can demonstrate academic prowess and a genuine desire to learn.

While the admissions officers frequently accept students who have excelled in their educational systems, they place a strong emphasis on the whole person and consider beyond test scores and exam predictions.

Group of students smiling at the camera.

To start your application, fill out the Common App and Brown Member section online. Here are the application options and important dates to take note of:

Early Decision – Deadline: November 1

Choose the Early Decision option if Brown is your top choice, and you would unquestionably accept an offer of admission if selected.

Regular Decision – Deadline: January 3

Most first-year students select the Regular Decision application process. Regular Decision candidates will receive admissions decisions by the beginning of April.
Your Common Application account will be used to submit all your college applications. You must add Brown University to your list of colleges after creating your account.

The Common Application is divided into three sections:

  1. Personal details (shown to all the schools you are applying to)
  2. Brown-specific questions
  3. Forms provided by your academic instructors and school counselor

The “questions” sections are where you will find the Brown-specific questions. You must also complete program-specific essays if you are applying to the Brown-Rhode Island School of Design Dual Degree Program or the Liberal Medical Education Program.

You will be given options to request documents and references from teachers and school officials either online or on paper. The earlier you start, the more time there will be for them to respond and write recommendations before the deadline. In addition, the following documents are required for admission:

  • Transcript: Your school counselor or another official must send an official copy.
  • School report: Your school counselor or another official must complete and submit the school report form, which can be found on the Common Application website.
  • Midyear school report: This can be filed online and should include your final fall course grades as well as a list of your upcoming spring courses. Typically, the deadline falls in late February.
  • Counselor recommendation: You must ask your school counselor to fill out this form. Both the school report form and the counselor recommendation must be completed.
  • Two instructor evaluations or recommendations: Two letters of recommendation from two different teachers must be submitted through the Common Application or sent by email or fax. Choose teachers who have instructed you in your major subjects, such as science, social studies, math, a foreign language, or English.
  • Bachelor of Science and PLME recommendations: If you are considering a concentration in a STEM discipline or the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME), at least one of your recommendations should be from a math or science teacher.
  • Grades for the first quarter or trimester: As soon as the first quarter or trimester grades are available, you must request your counselor to submit them if you are applying through the Early Decision program. All candidates must submit midyear or second-trimester as soon as they are available.
  • Supplemental essays: Brown supplemental essays are submitted through the Common App.
  • Video introduction (optional): Brown has stopped offering its alumni interviewing program in recent years and now asks applicants to submit a two-minute video introduction as an additional component of their application. You have the chance to tell more about yourself and go beyond what is included in your application.

You must provide a $75 non-refundable application fee or a fee waiver to complete your application.

Standardized Tests

In the 2023–2024 admissions cycle, Brown will expand its test-optional policy for all first-year, transfer, and resumed undergraduate education applicants. Students who do not submit test scores can be assured that they will not be at a disadvantage in the admissions process. Instead, Brown will evaluate applicants’ college preparation based on other application components, such as course grades, the difficulty of the curriculum, and recommendations from counselors and teachers.

Group of students smiling in the camera.
When taken, the SAT or ACT will still be considered alongside all other information provided by the candidate. Standardized testing is informative, but it has never been the only factor considered in Brown’s holistic admissions process.
Because English is the language of instruction at school, international students at Brown must demonstrate they can:

  • Understand English as it is used in the classroom
  • Express ideas effectively and quickly in both spoken and written English
  • Read English without difficulty

International applicants are advised to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or Duolingo, and make sure that Brown receives the official results once available.
In most circumstances, a minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL internet-based exam, 600 on the paper-based exam, 8.0 on the IELTS, or 130 on the Duolingo are required.

Brown does not expect you to take any of these tests in person if doing so might put you at risk because your safety is the top priority. Currently, the IELTS Indicator Examination is not credited.

You must be proficient in the English language before being admitted. For undergraduates, Brown does not provide courses in English as a second language, and it does not accept students with English language deficiencies on a provisional basis.

Academic Experiences of International Students

The curriculum at Brown, with the open curriculum policy, offers a great degree of flexibility and allows students to explore their academic interests.

International students at Brown University have the unique opportunity to navigate an academic environment that promotes intellectual curiosity and fosters a culture of interdisciplinary learning. This educational model, known as the open curriculum, sets Brown apart from many other institutions. However, for international students who are accustomed to different academic systems, this can require an initial period of acclimatization.

When international students first arrive at Brown, they may find themselves faced with a new set of academic expectations and norms. The open curriculum allows students to design their own course of study, selecting from a wide range of disciplines and exploring their academic interests. This freedom can be both exciting and overwhelming, as students must navigate the vast array of course offerings and make decisions about their academic path.

To support international students during this transition, Brown University offers a multitude of resources. The Office of International Students and Scholar Services (OISSS) is one such service that provides support to international students. The OISSS offers advising services and workshops designed specifically to address the needs and concerns of students studying far from home.

Through the OISSS, international students can access a range of resources to help them succeed academically. Advisors are available to assist with course selection, ensuring that students are aware of the various academic opportunities available to them. Workshops and informational sessions provide guidance on topics such as time management, study skills, and academic writing, helping international students develop the necessary skills to excel in their coursework.

Additionally, the OISSS organizes events and activities to foster a sense of community among international students. These gatherings provide opportunities for students to connect with one another, share their experiences, and form friendships. The OISSS also collaborates with other campus organizations to offer cultural programming, allowing international students to celebrate and share their unique backgrounds and traditions with the broader Brown community.

Overall, the academic experiences of international students at Brown University are shaped by the institution’s open curriculum policy and the support services provided by the Office of International Students and Scholar Services. Through these resources, international students are able to navigate the academic environment, explore their interests, and thrive in their chosen fields of study.

Social and Cultural Experiences at Brown

Beyond the classrooms, international students have opportunities to engage with the wider Brown community and share their unique cultures and perspectives.

Students huddles in a bench of a campus.

When it comes to social and cultural experiences at Brown, the possibilities are endless. The university understands the importance of fostering a sense of community among its students, and this is especially true for international students. Brown recognizes that being in a new country can be both exciting and challenging, so they have implemented various initiatives to ensure that international students feel welcomed and supported.

Integration into the Brown Community

At Brown, fostering a sense of community is crucial. A plethora of clubs, organizations, and residence halls serve as conduits for integration and building connections. These clubs and organizations cater to a wide range of interests, from sports and arts to social justice and advocacy.

International students are encouraged to join these groups and actively participate in their activities. By doing so, they not only get to meet fellow students who share similar interests but also have the opportunity to interact with local students, creating a diverse and inclusive community.

Moreover, residence halls play a significant role in the integration process. Brown ensures that international students are placed in residence halls that promote inclusivity and cultural exchange. Living in these halls allows students to interact with individuals from different backgrounds and learn about their cultures firsthand. This not only helps international students feel more at home but also educates local students about different cultures, fostering a greater appreciation for diversity.

Cultural Exchange and Learning Opportunities

From the International Mentoring Program to the various cultural organizations and events, Brown facilitates opportunities for cultural exchanges, enriching the overall student experience in assimilating and celebrating diversity.

The International Mentoring Program pairs incoming international students with current students who serve as mentors. These mentors provide guidance and support, helping international students navigate their new environment and offering insights into American culture.

Additionally, Brown hosts a wide range of cultural organizations and events that celebrate the diverse backgrounds of its students. These organizations organize cultural festivals, performances, and workshops, allowing students to showcase their traditions and learn about others.

From Diwali celebrations to Chinese New Year festivities, these events create a vibrant and inclusive atmosphere on campus, where students can immerse themselves in different cultures and broaden their horizons.

Furthermore, Brown encourages international students to share their own cultures and perspectives through various platforms. The university provides spaces for students to organize cultural talks, exhibitions, and presentations, giving them the opportunity to educate their peers about their home countries and challenge stereotypes.

This not only promotes cultural understanding but also empowers international students to take pride in their heritage and contribute to the diversity of the Brown community.

Challenges Faced by International Students

Despite the supportive community and resources, international students can face unique challenges in their journey at Brown.

Students huddled in a table and reading.

Being an international student at Brown University is an exciting and transformative experience. However, it is not without its challenges. Let’s delve deeper into some of the obstacles that international students may encounter during their time at Brown.

Language and Communication Barriers

For many international students, English is not their first language, which poses an initial obstacle in classrooms and social settings alike. Adjusting to a new language can be intimidating, and it may take time to become fully comfortable expressing oneself in English.

However, Brown University recognizes this challenge and provides comprehensive language support services to assist students in improving their language skills. The university also encourages faculty to be understanding and accommodating, creating an inclusive environment where students feel supported in their language learning journey.

Moreover, the diverse student body at Brown offers a unique opportunity for international students to practice their English skills in a real-life context. Engaging in conversations with classmates, participating in group projects, and joining student organizations can all contribute to language development and help overcome communication barriers.

Homesickness and Cultural Adjustment

Being far away from home, many international students experience homesickness and the daunting task of adjusting to a new culture. The feeling of missing family, friends, and familiar surroundings can be overwhelming at times. However, the community at Brown, including faculty, staff, and peers, understands the importance of creating a welcoming and supportive environment for international students.

Brown University offers various resources and programs to help international students navigate the challenges of cultural adjustment. The Office of International Student and Scholar Services organizes cultural events, workshops, and support groups to foster a sense of belonging and provide a platform for students to share their experiences.

Additionally, the university encourages international students to connect with existing student organizations that celebrate different cultures and traditions, allowing them to find a sense of community and support.

Faculty members at Brown also play a crucial role in supporting international students’ cultural adjustment. They are trained to be sensitive to the needs and experiences of international students, ensuring that they feel valued and included in the academic community.

While homesickness and cultural adjustment can be challenging, many international students find that their time at Brown University becomes a transformative period in their lives. Through embracing new experiences, forming connections with peers, and seeking support when needed, international students can navigate these challenges and thrive in their academic and personal pursuits.

Post-Graduation Prospects for International Students

Completing their degree at Brown often leads to a rich array of choices for international students, with opportunities spread across industries and countries.

Female student walking in the hallway.

One of the key factors that contribute to the post-graduation prospects for international students at Brown is the university’s CareerLAB. This comprehensive career services center provides a wide range of resources and support to help students navigate the job market successfully. From resume reviews to industry-specific advice, CareerLAB equips students with the necessary tools to stand out in their chosen fields.

Internship opportunities also abound at Brown, allowing international students to gain valuable work experience and build professional networks. These internships, both on and off-campus, provide a stepping stone to future employment and often lead to full-time job offers upon graduation.

Career Services and Job Placement

Brown’s CareerLAB provides comprehensive career services, such as resume reviews, industry-specific advice, internships, on-campus recruitment programs, and more, priming students for success in the job market upon graduation.

Moreover, the university’s strong alumni network plays a crucial role in job placement for international students. Brown alumni are known for their willingness to mentor and support recent graduates, opening doors to various career opportunities. This network extends not only within the United States but also globally, giving international students access to a diverse range of industries and countries.

Transitioning from a Student Visa to a Work Visa

Transitioning from a student visa to a work visa is a crucial process that many international students undergo after graduation. Support from legal experts and the international student services office plays a critical role in making this transition as seamless as possible.

Brown University recognizes the importance of supporting international students during this transition period. The university’s international student services office provides guidance and resources to help students navigate the complex visa application process. They offer workshops, one-on-one counseling, and information sessions to ensure that international students understand the requirements and procedures involved in obtaining a work visa.

Furthermore, Brown’s strong relationships with employers and government agencies facilitate the visa sponsorship process for international students. The university actively advocates for policies that support international students’ ability to work in the United States, ensuring that they have the best possible chance of securing employment opportunities.

Group of students talking in a bench while holding their notes.

In conclusion, Brown University seeks to create a nurturing environment where international students can thrive academically and socially while also paving the way on their career path. Guest lectures, club activities, engaging courses, social events, mentoring programs, and support services play a key role in shaping the holistic experience of international students at Brown.

With a strong focus on career services and support during the transition from student visa to work visa, Brown University empowers international students to achieve their post-graduation goals and make a meaningful impact in their chosen fields.

Having all the necessary information is important before choosing any course of action. AdmissionSight is always here to assist you with any questions or concerns. We have more than ten years of expertise assisting students in successfully navigating the challenging admissions process.

Consult with AdmissionSight and find out what we can do to help you get into the school of your choice by ensuring that you are sufficiently aware and well-prepared for the application process.


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