I was wondering if some students or Brown parents could speak about Providence as a city. What's it like? Does it have a big city feel? How's the weather? How's the night life? How's the opportunities?
I have a really tough decision to make between Brown and Emory as a transfer student and TBH I really want a diverse city area nearby. I feel as though the CC community would instantly say choose Brown because it is an Ivy, but I'm really not concerned with that. I'm concerned about other soft factors.
Providence really isn't the big-city kind of place like Boston or NYC. It's more of an artsy metropolitan area with a couple large buildings thrown in. Brown itself is located on College Hill though, which is an area in and of itself, even if only a couple minutes walk to down-town. Thayer St which boasts a ton of coffee shops, varied restaurants and stores runs straight through the middle of campus and is in many respects the central line. Immediately outside of Brown's campus is mostly suburban residential areas.
There's certainly a night life with bars, pubs, and 18+/21+ clubs, most of which are a couple minutes drive or taxi ride away, but for most undergraduates, night life is centered around campus dorms and off-campus houses. Weather is typical New England (humid and ~90 in summer, snow and 20 in winter), though due to Providence's proximity to the ocean, it's not quite as severe as cities further inland. And you're going to have to specify what you mean by "opportunities."
I visited for every year, sometimes for a couple of weeks. I found that most students stay on College Hill mainly. Thayer is the main drag aligning campus and is very busy with student eats, parent eats, and stores that are independent as well as Urban Outfitters and coffee houses. A short walk away are a couple of other areas with good restaurants, like Wayland Square, and the closer one I can't remember, framing college hill. You can bike a bit farther. Along another street with bakeries and restaurants. I don't think there are any nightclubs in this area, just a couple of indie theaters and bars.
We just went out to the Italian district once and the Providence mall for shopping. If Waterfire was on when I was around we always went, it is great. I know my dd went to Boston a few times and NYC to see HS friends.
We are from San Francisco, so there isn't really a comparison. It was fun for me to look around, but nothing to compare. My daughter loved Brown and got a great education and incredible opportunities in academics and research (not nightclubbing if that's what you mean)--that's what it's all about. I'm sure you can party all you want, too.
Brown is not quite as dreary as Philly in the winter, nor as hot or humid in the summer (I've been both in both) but both can be grey, and humid. RI does have the tempering of being the beneficiary of gulf stream warmer air in winter, and breeze in summer. Brown is also set in an area with more green space, big trees than most of Philly so better atmosphere, and prettier fall.
It think that there are a lot of opportunities to do internships and volunteer in the community. A lot of the public service opportunities for Brown students in the Providence community are coordinated through the Swearer Center, you might want to take a look at its website and/ or contact someone there for more information. Providence is the capital of R.I., so a lot of political/ government opportunities are centered in the city. I think with respect to transportation -- everyone gets a free bus pass, but I'm not sure how convenient the schedules are. I think that if you are doing certain service opportunities through the Swearer Center, e.g. volunteering in the schools, there may be some vans at set times.
Thanks rbhhbr! The Swearer Center was one of the things I mentioned in my application and something that is really pulling me there. It seems as though Brown has a big investment in the community and that is really great for me considering I have a lot of volunteering history and want to continue it by doing new and creative projects.
What kind of research/internships are you looking for? Certainly volunteering and the like is plenty. While we don't have the graduate programs of some of our peer universities, there is still LOTS of research in every field going on, but that's the school more so than Providence.
I visited Emory a long time ago as a high school student, the area there is definitely way less urban feeling than Brown, and I would say inner city ATL is def worse off than inner city PVD. Weather wise obviously ATL is going to be hotter and sunnier. PVD has pretty bad weather TBH but I'm not someone who is bothered by that. One of my friends who complained about the weather non stop went to Boston for med school, not like it's much better up there...
Mostly, I'm worried about the strength of the biomedical research at Brown. If they're strong, the website doesn't really do it justice. I want to do MD/PhD later on and I want to be in a lab that gathers data efficiently and publishes rather normally. At the university I'm at now, I collect most of the data but it is inefficient and I don't feel like I have any support. So in essence, I want to be at a place where I have the proper amount of guidance and autonomy.
I can't address that department but it should be a good one, MD acceptance rates for premed are very good. opportunities in research are abundant. My daughter did multiple research projects in various departments, (cog sci experiment recruitment and administration, physics, facial recognition program work, bunch of other stuff I know nothing about) and a few of independent research semesters working with the profs or the profs and grad students, also a two independent research summer grants from Brown. She also had a 2 year project that was presented at a professional conference. This was in CS and she went right to a PhD program upon graduation.
Joining research groups is usually just done by asking. It's an intimate environment. But science labs are different and I don't know how they operate. I just know that her roommate one year, when she was living off campus, had to go Brown several times a day to oversea fruit flies. Brownis an undergraduate focused university so you can expect good support from professors, especially when you are working in your department.
I remember the other commercial street is called Wickendon. When I visited I spent a lot of time alone, so I explored the Portuguese neighborhood near Brown (deli's and Butcher shops with goodies), the Federal Hill Italian neighboorhood which is pretty extensive comparatively, and the little pockets of neighborhoods that surround Brown. You must eat at the Korean 'hole in the wall' on Benefit Street. My daughter really liked the architecture and the brick and the surrounding old houses and they are very different style from SF. She was lucky to experience mild winters and the weather never bothered her winter or summer. In spring she often took the East Bay bike trail over to Newport. We went together once, but it is a looong bike ride (there is also a bus and ferry.)
Anyway I'm a big booster because of how well the school fit my daughter and how successful her career was there and continues to be, from the great education.
Yeah I really love the Brown CS department even for me, a biophysics/biochem/biology type person. There are a ton of classes I can take related to bioinformatics which aren't really available at Emory!