Spending the week in Boston looking at colleges, it’s hard not to feel a rush of old East Coast-nostalgia. Today I went to Brown, took the tour, did all the usual. It sits on a hill (a rare sight in the flatlands of the Midwest) overlooking Providence. And there are trees, here, not fields, and no cement roads, only asphalt, and everything is older, and different, somehow.

Perhaps nostalgia is not the right word. I actually find myself increasingly attached to trusty old C-U, with its big skies and empty fields and gridded streets. In many ways these things are comforting. And the people here are not necessarily as friendly.

I suppose it does not do as well to make such generalizations on my feelings for a place as to reflect on what I see. Brown has a lot going for it. Its academics are strong, and open. The lack of core curriculum is nice, because it means one can study what one wishes… and avoid the massive lectures one might encounter at certain large state universities which shall remain unnamed. Of course, successfully navigating such an open learning environment takes some independence, motivation, and self-discipline, but I think I could manage it. And while certainly some people find it troubling, overall the sense I got was that people really enjoyed this freedom, and really enjoyed the work they were doing. I didn’t get the same sense of academic blowout that I got at Reed, which is a relief. The ability to take a class pass/no record can certainly relieve some of the stress. Overall the goal is to encourage academic risk and growth while mediating potential negative consequences, which I definitely appreciate.

The student population seems like it might be a good match as well. Just walking around I admit that superficially I really liked what people looked like. In some ways the student body feels more mature than that of said unnamed state institutions. They might not be, but their manner of dress and apparent attitudes really don’t seem so reckless and…. well, I want to say plebian but that’s just because I like the word. Again, perhaps I’m reading into things too much.

That said, the campus’s social scene is not dominated by fraternities and sororities, which is certainly a plus. And because of this you don’t get the frat boy archetypes wandering around campus, which is also a plus. Overall I imagine (and this really is just imagining, because save a discussion with Ariel Zodhiates I don’t really have much insight into the true nature of Brown) that I would fit in well here.

And so the problem becomes, of course, getting in. A 15% acceptance rate leaves much to be desired, even if one is within the SAT/ACT ranges and has a 4.0 and blah blah blah. The numbers are in no one’s favor. But what can be lost in trying, and what can be gained unless one tries? I used to have this poster that said “Shoot for the moon - even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” Sounds good, but if I end up at certain unnamed state school I might be disgruntled.

2 Responses to “brown”

  1. mark Says:

    dude, CU is good. standing in a cornfield, looking at the big juicy blue horizon is something that other non-cu people just don’t understand.

  2. tom Says:

    It’s true, and if I leave I’ll miss that. But there’s more to life than 180 degree skies and horizons so long you can see the earth curving, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.

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