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Brown University

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Date: Oct 13 2004
Major: English (This Major's Salary over time)
Brown was an incredible and life-changing place to go to school. I loved the inspiring, smart, funny & diverse people I met, the physical beauty of the school, the fun & funky neighborhoods of Providence, the RISD connection, the seasons, the Brown Band, the Rhode Island accents… everything!

With the lack of a core curriculum, every semester was a huge smorgasbord of tempting choices. My educational journey may have lacked balance—but boy, was it fun. After a few misfires in freshman year (where the title of a class sounded fantastic but the class itself was only so-so) I began ignoring course topics and titles altogether, asking around to upper classmen, and simply choosing whatever course any legendary & adored professors were offering that semester. It was a fantastic method. My professors were the creme de la creme of Brown and I absolutely loved them. (Odd or dry topics can be fascinating when the subject happens to be the life's work and passion of some wonderful teacher who can bring it thrillingly to life. Even "hard" classes seem less hard when you are carried away by the enthusiasm of a great professor.) Brown is the sort of place where you can roll the dice like this for four years and not get hung up on any pesky core requirements. So long as you pick your favorite subject(s) to concentrate in, you will have an absolutely unfettered four years of learning at Brown.

Back then, this meant—yay, no more math! I did not realize until later the true value in that open curriculum—at Brown, you are given complete autonomy over your life, your choices, and what you make of things. Not only does that mean that you are excited to be in any class, because YOU have chosen it, but by the time you graduate, you have 4 years' head-start over everyone else from other colleges in being comfortable with and experienced at running your own life.

I left Brown with a thesis in poetry, a reasonably unmarketable degree and no idea what I would "do" with my life, but with a VERY high level of confidence and self-determination. I was comfortable that I could experiment, figure things out, find my way—and I knew from experience that if I made mistakes or hated where I wound up I could re-group and change course. What a gift, to know that you can meander a bit in life, and have things turn out well.

Many of my friends from Brown have remained self-employed or been entrepreneurs, as I have—in part because Brown selects independent people who can thrive in a free environment, but also because doing your own thing is fun and addictive. Who would want to give that up?! If you are a person who would love to take the reins of your life, experiment, and learn, Brown is a spectacular environment within which to discover your passions and grow up.

A Brown degree (however unbalanced; however many C/NC courses—and they'll never know!) opens all sorts of doors in the big wide world. Brown alumni tend to LOVE their school and will usually go out of their way to assist you. Non-alums, also, make very favorable assumptions about your ability and intelligence just because you went to Brown.

The hardest thing about Brown is getting in. The rest is just a joy.

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