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Brown University

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Date: Feb 08 2004
Major: Physics (This Major's Salary over time)
I went to Brown just before it adopted the open curriculum which makes it such a "hot" school now, but I've visited recently and get the same great impression of it that I had when I was there. I work on Brown's alumni schools committee and recruit/interview students interested in Brown. Brown is "the alternative Ivy" and might well be the epitome of diversity among the Ivies. If you want, it can be a place you "skate" through easy courses just to get a degree from a name school, but you'll be in a minority. I found most of my friends from a broad range of interests and races, with my only caveat being that conservative students' views were often overwhelmed by those on the left. This was during the Vietnam War, so it was a pretty active time, but not much has changed. I was on a campus tour with my son last April (2003), and the place was still bustling and energetic. Even the tour group was pamphleted by students giving out info on a medical marijuana symposium that night. The president, Ruth Simmons, serves as a model of where Brown is going. We alumni generally applauded a push to insure need-blind admissions, and she'd like - among other things - to add more student voice to University issues ranging from the political (arming the campus security) to the mundane (e.g. 24 hr library and cafeteria hours). For alumni it means a big push for endowments, an area where Brown lags behind its Ivy counterparts.

I recommend Brown as a place where you can find an unusually eclectic and personable bunch of people, a place where I grew up politically (even as a nerdy physicist), a place that never stops moving. Brown sits in a place which fairly drips with history, from its own University Hall that really did house Washington's troops, to the First Baptist Church in America down the street. Providence has become far more gentrified since I was there, and is a great place to eat out, with easy transportation around the city, and easy walking distance from buses to New York or Boston. Academically it's very diverse, with lots of choices. I took advantage of the ability to make up a course that wasn't taught, after hunting around and finding someone on the faculty willing to teach it. I also found it easy to take exchange courses at the nearby Rhode Island School of Design one block to the west of the campus. Brown was a place that let you do as much as you felt you could and offered you lots of options on how to do it.

My one problem with my Brown experience? It only lasted 4 years!

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