A Day in the Life at Brown University

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Jay is a Boston tutor specializing in Chemistry tutoring, Statistics tutoring, Algebra tutoring, and more. He is a 2012 graduate of Brown University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Check out his review of his alma mater:

VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?

Jay: The campus is nestled atop College Hill with a 10-15 minute walk downtown. The campus has a variety of walking routes that keep you within the college campus feel en route to class. If one would like to grab a lunch out of the cafeterias, Thayer Street provides a multitude of restaurants and quick-bite places! There are buses to get around Providence (free if you are a student!) but it’s nice to have a bike as well.

VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Jay: The professors are generally remarkable. They are super engaging and most are more than willing to help students who are proactive about their studies. Brown University is a place that serves the “entrepreneurial spirit.” If you want to succeed, they have all the resources and direction one needs to become a leader. Teaching assistants are also very willing to help because most of them are fellow peers. The advisors are a mix of people volunteering to advise and those who were asked to advise. I had a poor academic advisor but a lot of my friends had great advisors.

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Jay: Dorm life is par. Brown seems to think it’s a good idea to require payment ($600) to live off-campus after sophomore year, but then doesn’t have enough space to room the on-campus students. Dining options are slowly getting better and there are several student groups pushing local food into the dining areas. Socialization opportunities are boundless at Brown. There are so many amazing students groups to choose from, and if not, you can just create your own and get money to support your mission if attendance is past five or so people.

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study?

Jay: That’s a good question; I’m not sure what is best represented. Engineering and Computer Science have awesome buildings. There is a brand new, state-of-the-art CLPS (Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences) building with amazing classrooms and laboratories. I majored in Psychology and was able to study there during my senior year. They supported my area of study well.

VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Jay: I was a varsity soccer player at school, so that was my main friend group (spent five hours a day minimum with them). It is not difficult to meet new people, as most students are open at Brown. It is a very welcoming atmosphere. Greek life does play a role in campus social life but it is not the center of attention. It is well balanced with student groups, informal friend groups, and other social organizations.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Jay: With regret, I did not take advantage of the Career Center and other student support services. It was my ego that was getting in the way (“I can do this all by myself!”). Don’t do this; take advantage of the services Brown offers because it’s a large part of what Brown offers. There are many reputable companies that come to recruit at our Career Fairs.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?

Jay: Libraries can get overcrowded at times, but there are designated areas for quiet study and group study. Groups can reserve rooms online at the libraries for group study. If one is creative, you can always find empty rooms and lounges for studying all around campus.

VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus? 

Jay: East Providence is awesome. Food is great in Providence. Free buses for students make it cheap and easy to get downtown. It depends on what the student wants to do but I feel like there is everything: a mall, restaurants, music venues, small privately owned cinemas, the beach, parks, etc.

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Jay: There are about 6,000 undergraduate students at Brown and the class sizes are well proportioned. Intro classes can be quite large but any secondary and advanced classes are 5-20 students. I loved my classes and how engaging everyone was in them.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Jay: My favorite class must have been the History of Medicine. The professor was a brilliant historian and very captivating. He discouraged note taking (perfect) because he wanted everyone to just listen. He brought us to the libraries to talk to the Brown University librarians who showed us 500 year-old books. One book was even bound with human skin! I remember reading about one of the first heart surgeries and was disgusted with the doctor’s carelessness when it came to sanitation!

Check out Jay’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.