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Olin vs. Brown Engineering

lynch112lynch112 Registered User Posts: 71 Junior Member
edited April 2012 in Brown University
My son is debating between Olin College and Brown University. He is leaning strongly toward engineering but is unsure about which discipline. He is also interested in management as a long-term goal.

We sure could use some help with pros and cons. I've compiled some below. Please comment freely. Thank you.

Brown - Pros
• Plenty of major programs to choose from
• Excellent intramural sports programs
• Plenty of social groups to choose from
• Well established reputation - Ivy league
• Students were friendly to us and seemed happy

Olin - Pros
• Very hands-on curriculum starting freshman year
• Inclusive student body - too small to have social cliques
• Small classes and labs
• Students were friendly to us and seemed happy
• Dorms
• Cafeteria food

Brown - Cons
• Large lectures
• Fin Aid package is less than generous
• Campus is cramped
• Too many students
• Dorms
• Cafeteria food

Olin - Cons
• Very few major programs to choose from
• Reputation is not firmly established
Post edited by lynch112 on

Replies to: Olin vs. Brown Engineering

  • fireandrainfireandrain Registered User Posts: 4,738 Senior Member
    I know very little about Olin. But I'll throw a few questions/facts/impressions out there.

    How positive is your son about engineering? The drop-out rate for engineering is pretty high. What if he decides not to pursue it -- are there options for him at Olin?

    While there are large lectures at Brown for intro courses, class size gets much smaller in upper level classes. There are about 100 students in the engineering program per class, which is pretty small.

    I don't know how Olin handles freshman year for engineers, but at Brown engineers are introduced to many of the disciplines, so by the time they have to decide on a concentration they know something about mechanical, materials, civil, fluids, thermo, electrical, etc. I think that's a really good approach.

    Is the cafeteria food that much better at Olin than Brown? Brown's food may not be gourmet, but I wouldn't not go there because of it. Same for housing.

    If kids want to form social cliques, they do -- no matter how many or how few there are. Personally, I think larger campuses are a better way to avoid cliques, because there are so many kids to befriend. Your comment reminds me of a friend who sent her kid to a Waldorf school, tiny place that prides itself on being inclusive, yet her kid was the only one in his class excluded from the clique.

    I've heard of Olin, and I would think that among hiring managers, its reputation is known.

    I know a lot of people who did engineering at Brown. Many of them did end up in management, actually. I think Brown's approach to engineering fosters that.

    Now, the money thing throws a wrench into this whole conversation. If Brown means large loans, or you having to dig into your retirement accounts, then Olin has an edge.
  • bay area mombay area mom Registered User Posts: 44 Junior Member
    It really comes down to your son interests and what he is looking for. They are very different schools. My daughter did Olin undergrad (general engineering with emphasis on design) and Brown grad school (MS engineering/management) so that might be an option.
  • lynch112lynch112 Registered User Posts: 71 Junior Member
    Here are some reponses:

    My son is fairly sure about engineering but there is always the chance that he will attrit. If that were to happen, Olin few other major programs to choose from.

    I can see how engineers at Brown would have much smaller classes than say bio or econ majors.

    The cafeteria food at Olin was amazing.

    Brown would cost us $10k more than Olin. We have asked Brown fin aid to reconsider since all of our offers (Olin, Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Tufts . . .) were much more generous. I may be paranoid but I actually think Brown made a mistake with our fin aid award. They will respond by 4/30.
  • bay area mombay area mom Registered User Posts: 44 Junior Member
    Good luck on your son's decision. Whichever he decides he really can't go wrong, both are amazing schools.
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