What Is It Like to Attend Brown?

October 7, 2023
By AdmissionSight
Portrait of happy students walking with bag and mobile phone

What Is It Like to Attend Brown?

Attending Brown University is a transformative experience filled with rigorous academics, a vibrant social scene, and plenty of opportunities for exploration in both academic and personal realms. With a dynamic student population and an open curriculum unique to the institution, life at Brown is as enriching as it is challenging.

Understanding Brown University’s History and Reputation

The history and reputation of Brown University are deeply intertwined with its unique attributes and core values. Founded in 1764, Brown is part of the Ivy League and is recognized for its academic excellence, innovative curricula, and active student involvement. However, to fully appreciate the campus experience, diving deeper into the school’s roots and milestones is crucial.

The Founding of Brown University

Brown University is the seventh-oldest university in the U.S. and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. Established by the Rhode Island Colony, it was initially named ‘The College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.’ However, it was later renamed in 1804 in gratitude to the Brown family, whose generous endowment ensured the university’s survival.

The founding of Brown University marked a significant moment in American history. It emerged when the pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment was gaining momentum. The establishment of this institution reflected the growing importance of education in the young nation and its commitment to fostering intellectual growth and critical thinking.

Throughout its long history, Brown University has weathered various challenges and transformations. From its humble beginnings as a small college to its current status as a prestigious research university, Brown has consistently adapted to the changing needs of its students and the world.

Brown’s Unique Open Curriculum

In 1969, Brown University introduced an open curriculum, a pioneering move in higher education. The absence of general education requirements allows students to shape their academic journey based on their interests. The curriculum embodies the values of independence and intellectual curiosity that Brown continues to cherish today.

This innovative approach to education has attracted students worldwide who seek a personalized and interdisciplinary learning experience. The open curriculum empowers students to explore diverse subjects and encourages them to think critically, fostering a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of knowledge.

Wayland Hall in Brown University

Brown University cultivates a community of independent thinkers and lifelong learners by offering students the freedom to design their educational path. This unique approach has become a hallmark of the university and sets it apart from other institutions.

Notable Alumni and Achievements

Brown University boasts many notable alums who have made significant contributions to society. Among them are Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, and influential individuals in politics, arts, science, and business. These achievements underscore Brown’s reputation as a world-class institution.

One such notable alumnus is Amartya Sen, a Nobel laureate in Economics. Sen’s groundbreaking work on welfare economics and social choice theory has profoundly impacted the field. His research has shed light on the complexities of poverty, inequality, and social justice, making him a leading voice in the global discourse on development.

Another distinguished graduate is Junot Díaz, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author known for his powerful storytelling and exploration of themes such as identity, immigration, and cultural assimilation. Díaz’s works, including “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” and “This Is How You Lose Her,” have captivated readers worldwide and have earned him numerous accolades.

These are just a few examples of the exceptional individuals who have emerged from Brown University. Their accomplishments reflect the university’s commitment to fostering intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and a passion for positively impacting society.

The Campus Life at Brown University

Life on campus at Brown University is as rich and varied as the academic program. Students find numerous ways to engage and enjoy, whether living, dining, or extracurricular involvement.

At Brown University, campus life is vibrant and dynamic, offering students many opportunities to make the most of their college experience. When students step on campus, they are greeted with a sense of community and belonging.

Residential Life and Housing

Residential life is an integral part of the Brown University experience. With various housing options – from traditional residence halls to themed and program houses – students can build meaningful relationships while developing a sense of independence and community.

Students packing their things to their dorm

Living on campus at Brown University allows students to immerse themselves in a diverse and inclusive community. The residence halls are not just places to sleep and study but also vibrant spaces where students can connect with their peers through various activities and events. From movie nights to game tournaments, there is always something happening in the dorms.

Dining and Food Options

Regarding dining, Brown University offers a variety of options, from formal dining halls to food trucks, catering to all tastes and dietary requirements. Not just limited to food, these spaces serve as a common ground where students can socialize, relax, and even engage in academic discussions.

The dining halls at Brown University are more than places to grab a meal. They are bustling hubs of activity where students gather to share stories, ideas, and laughter. The diverse menu options ensure something for everyone, whether craving comfort food or exploring new flavors worldwide.

Academics at Brown University

Regarding academics, Brown University stands out for its commitment to excellence, innovation, and the freedom it provides its students. At Brown, students are encouraged to study what they love and explore unfamiliar disciplines, fostering a well-rounded education.

With a wide range of academic offerings, Brown University offers more than 80 concentrations for students. Among the most popular majors are Computer Science, Economics, and Biology. However, the options don’t stop there. The vast selection of courses allows students to delve into subjects they’re passionate about and gain a solid grounding across disciplines, ensuring a comprehensive education.

Popular Majors and Courses

Brown University offers over 80 concentrations, the most popular being Computer Science, Economics, and Biology. The vast selection of courses allows students to delve into subjects they’re passionate about and gain solid grounding across disciplines.

Whether exploring the intricacies of computer programming, analyzing economic trends, or unraveling the mysteries of the natural world, students at Brown can pursue their academic interests with enthusiasm and depth.

Moreover, Brown University’s commitment to interdisciplinary studies allows students to combine their passions and explore the intersections between various fields. For example, a student majoring in Computer Science might also take courses in Cognitive Science to understand the relationship between technology and human cognition. This flexibility in course selection enables students to develop a unique academic profile that reflects their interests and goals.

The Open Curriculum in Practice

At Brown, the open curriculum isn’t just an abstract idea—it’s the backbone of a student’s academic journey. Unlike traditional universities with strict distribution requirements, Brown University empowers its students to chart their educational path in a way that aligns with their goals and aspirations. This unique approach fosters a deep sense of ownership and responsibility in their learning.

Students at Brown are free to design their course of study, allowing them to explore a wide range of subjects and make connections between seemingly unrelated disciplines. This flexibility encourages intellectual curiosity and promotes critical thinking and creativity.

Whether a student wants to combine courses in literature and neuroscience or delve into the intersections of philosophy and physics, Brown University provides the platform to do so.

Research Opportunities and Facilities

Studying at Brown University means being a part of top-notch research initiatives. With state-of-the-art facilities and faculty leaders in their fields, students can participate in groundbreaking research, irrespective of their academic level.


Brown University offers many research opportunities, from working alongside renowned professors on cutting-edge projects to conducting independent research. Whether exploring the potential of renewable energy sources, investigating the impact of climate change on ecosystems, or delving into the complexities of human behavior, students at Brown have access to resources and mentorship that enable them to contribute to advancing knowledge in their chosen fields.

Furthermore, Brown’s collaborative research fosters community and intellectual engagement. Students can collaborate with peers who share their research interests, attend conferences, and present their findings to a broader audience. This exposure enhances their academic experience and prepares them for future endeavors in academia, industry, or any field they pursue.

Applying to Brown University

The application process to Brown University is selective and comprehensive, but don’t be overwhelmed. With proper planning and preparation, you can navigate the journey smoothly.

Located in Providence, Rhode Island, Brown University is an Ivy League institution known for its academic excellence and vibrant campus life. As you embark on your application journey, it is essential to understand the various aspects of the admissions process and what makes Brown University unique.

Admission Requirements and Process

Admissions at Brown University are need-blind for domestic applicants and holistic. This means that the admissions committee evaluates each applicant based on many factors, considering more than grades and test scores.

Academic achievements play a crucial role in the evaluation process. The committee looks for students who have challenged themselves academically and have demonstrated a passion for learning. While a strong GPA and high standardized test scores are important, they are not the sole determining factors.

Extracurricular involvement is also highly valued at Brown University. The admissions committee seeks students who have shown dedication and leadership in their extracurricular activities, whether through sports, clubs, community service, or artistic endeavors. Your involvement outside of the classroom can provide insight into your interests, values, and potential contributions to the Brown community.

In addition to academic and extracurricular achievements, the admissions committee considers personal qualities and potential for success in a rigorous educational setting. They are interested in understanding who you are as an individual and how you will contribute to the diverse and intellectually stimulating environment at Brown University.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Brown University is committed to ensuring that its education is accessible to all students, regardless of their financial circumstances. They offer various financial aid options to make a Brown education affordable.

Group of students walking in the campus.

One of the financial aid options available at Brown University is scholarships. These scholarships are awarded based on financial need and academic merit. They can significantly reduce the cost of tuition and make attending Brown University more affordable for students from all backgrounds.

In addition to scholarships, Brown University also offers low-interest loans and work-study opportunities as part of its financial aid package. These options allow students to finance their education while minimizing the burden of student debt.

How Do Students Engage with the Providence Community?

When you’re a student at Brown, your world doesn’t end at the campus gates. The city of Providence becomes an extended classroom, a place where you can apply your academic knowledge in real-world settings.

Brown has a symbiotic relationship with Providence; the community offers students many growth opportunities, and in return, the students contribute to the city’s vibrancy and well-being. From internships at local startups to volunteering at community centers, the avenues for engagement are diverse and impactful.

This relationship enriches the student experience, making it clear what it is like to attend Brown: a journey that transcends the traditional boundaries of academia.

Local Internships and Job Opportunities

Providence is a hub of innovation and enterprise, offering Brown students various internships and job opportunities. Whether you’re interested in healthcare, technology, or the arts, you’ll find organizations eager to tap into the fresh perspectives and skills that Brown students bring.

Local businesses often collaborate with the university to offer internships that are not just resume-fillers but transformative experiences. These internships often lead to full-time job offers, making the transition from student life to professional life seamless.

The local job market is so intertwined with the university that it becomes a defining aspect of what it is like to attend Brown. You’re not just preparing for a career; you’re already knee-deep.

Community Service

Community service is more than just an extracurricular activity at Brown; it’s a cornerstone of the educational philosophy. Students are encouraged to give back to the Providence community that hosts them, and the options are as varied as the students themselves.

From tutoring underprivileged kids to participating in environmental clean-up projects, the opportunities to make a meaningful impact are abundant. These experiences enrich the lives of the community members and provide students with a broader understanding of societal issues, enhancing their academic journey.

This focus on community engagement vividly illustrates what it is like to attend Brown, where education and empathy go hand in hand.

Cultural Experiences

Providence is a melting pot of cultures, and Brown students have the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in a rich tapestry of traditions and experiences. The city hosts numerous cultural festivals, art exhibitions, and musical performances throughout the year, providing students with a well-rounded cultural education outside the classroom.

Whether it’s attending the famous WaterFire event, exploring the historic Federal Hill neighborhood, or visiting the various museums and galleries, the cultural experiences are endless. These activities offer a break from academic rigor and broaden your horizons, making you more informed and empathetic. It’s yet another facet of what it is like to attend Brown, where your education is not confined to textbooks but extends to understanding and appreciating the world around you.

How Do Students Balance Academics and Well-being?

At Brown University, pursuing academic excellence is not a sprint but a marathon, requiring intellectual rigor and a balanced approach to well-being. The university understands that peak academic performance is linked to mental and physical health.

View of computer engineers working on a project.

As a result, Brown offers a plethora of resources aimed at helping students maintain this delicate balance. From mental health services to fitness facilities, the focus is on creating a supportive environment that fosters academic and personal growth.

This holistic approach to education is a cornerstone of what it is like to attend Brown. Students are not just scholars but well-rounded individuals who are taught the importance of self-care as a precursor to academic success.

Mental Health Resources

Mental health is a priority at Brown, and the university goes to great lengths to ensure students have access to the necessary resources. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers individual therapy sessions, group counseling, and workshops on stress management, among other services.

The aim is to create a stigma-free environment where students can seek help without judgment. Peer support groups and wellness programs further supplement these formal services, providing a multifaceted approach to mental health care.

This robust support system is integral to understanding what it is like to attend Brown, where your mental well-being is considered just as important as your GPA.

Physical Fitness

Physical health is another crucial aspect of the Brown experience. The university boasts state-of-the-art fitness centers, swimming pools, and athletic fields, encouraging students to incorporate physical activity into daily routines.

Intramural sports and fitness classes offer a fun and engaging way to stay active, while varsity sports provide an opportunity for more competitive physical engagement. The emphasis on physical fitness is not just about staying in shape; it’s about understanding the connection between a healthy body and a healthy mind.

This focus on physical well-being is a defining feature of what it is like to attend Brown, where the education of the body goes hand in hand with the teaching of the mind.

Time Management

Time management is often cited as one of the most challenging aspects of college life, and Brown is no exception. However, the university offers a range of resources to help students navigate this challenge.

Academic advisors and peer mentors provide personalized guidance on balancing coursework, extracurricular activities, and personal time. Workshops on effective study techniques and time management skills are regularly offered, equipping students with the tools they need to succeed without burning out.

Learning to manage one’s time effectively is a crucial life skill that Brown instills in its students, making it an essential part of what it is like to attend Brown.

Ready to Experience What It’s Like to Attend Brown University? Let AdmissionSight Guide You There!

You’ve just delved deep into the enriching, multifaceted experience that is attending Brown University. From balancing academics and well-being to engaging with the vibrant Providence community, Brown offers an educational journey. But how do you make this dream a reality? That’s where we come in.

AdmissionSight is your go-to partner for navigating the complex world of college admissions. Our team of experts specializes in helping high-achieving students like you gain access to top-tier institutions. We offer personalized consulting services, including:

  • Strategic Application Planning: Crafting a compelling narrative that sets you apart.
  • Essay Writing Support: Turning your stories into persuasive essays that resonate.
  • Interview Preparation: Equipping you with the confidence to shine in person.

Don’t leave your college future to chance. Take the first step toward experiencing what it is like to attend Brown University.

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