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Brown vs. Stanford?

hotsauceinmybaghotsauceinmybag Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
Hey y'all, got accepted to Stanford over the weekend and have a likely letter from Brown in the bag. I've been struggling deciding where I should go, and I thought I'd ask you all for help. Can those of you who are very familiar with Brown (or Stanford!) offer me advice based on my own preferences/provide me with some guidance as I do research over the next month?

Ideally, I'd be doing something interdisciplinary that bridges biology with political science (or more broadly, the sciences with the social sciences)—are those kinds of programs generally supported by Brown? I want to be surrounded by students who care about making the world a better place—activism is great, political interest is great, and desiring to make change via areas other than activism/policy is great as well! Just number one thing I can't deal with is apathy. Also, I'm a URM so diversity is important to me, and ideally I'd be in a place that makes space for other POCs, but at the same time I don't want to be friends with only other POCs. I'm from the suburbs of Atlanta so I'm used to areas that aren't particularly diverse, but I very much would like to have a very diverse friend group—ethnically, interest-wise, etc.!

Additionally, if you could tell me more about the culture of Brown, that'd be greatly appreciated! I'd like to know more about it before I go off and visit end of next month

Replies to: Brown vs. Stanford?

  • theoriginalclonetheoriginalclone Registered User Posts: 70 Junior Member
    First of all, congrats on your two great options! I don't know much about those programs at Brown specifically, but I know that the open curriculum makes it very easy to double major and still have some room to explore. Brown has always been known for its activism, and for being the most diverse of the Ivies. I have heard that it's a lot more collaborative than cutthroat, and that the overall atmosphere is one of intellectual camaraderie. I also got a LL from Brown, so maybe I'll run into you at a visit day :)
  • RafalalaRafalala Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    Idk about Stanford, but brown is known for letting students create their own majors and doing whatever they want course-wise to create different pathways and pick up certificates
  • GoBrownGoBrown Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    I went to Brown, my husband went to Stanford. My personal opinion is that Brown is more diverse, with more of the student body interested in activism, 'changing the world' vs Stanford. There is at least a kernel of truth when people call Brown the 'Berkeley of the East Coast' and Cal students refer to Stanford as the 'country club' types. I haven't seen the numbers, but my general sense is that there are more Californians at Stanford, and more Eastern seaboard, mid-Atlantic/New England kids at Brown, and (again, IMO) Cali types tend to be more laid back.
  • LaggingLagging Registered User Posts: 1,162 Senior Member
    I go to Stanford (though I loved and seriously considered Brown as well).

    In my opinion activism, especially on topics related to race, is pretty big at Stanford (guest speakers, demonstrations, student organizations, etc.). Students are often passionate about causes and vocal about them. There are also A LOT of public service organizations that many students are involved in. The Haas Center for Public Service often helps students connect their area of study to helping others.

    Personally I feel that Brown and Stanford are some of the less pretentious/snobby of the "elite schools." I wouldn't consider Stanford to have a "country club" feel. For "create your own major" Brown would probably be the better choice. Stanford let's you create your own for STEM fields but I don't believe they do for non-STEM.

    As far as your interests, Stanford is tied at #2 for best political science program, well above Brown: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-humanities-schools/political-science-rankings. Stanford is tied at #1 for its biology program as well: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-science-schools/biological-sciences-rankings. These are grad school rankings, but as an undergrad many of your profs and some of your classes will be from grad level.
  • tuty143tuty143 Registered User Posts: 607 Member
    Congrats on your LL! I too received one so maybe we could be future classmates if all shakes out right. Anyways, I can give a (somewhat incomplete) perspective on Brown as my brother went there. He has told me too many stories to count about how the students there have a club for everything. EVERYTHING. The students are very big on activism and he mentioned that some student club was doing some sort of activism (ex. protests, handing out flyers, informational sessions) on campus every day in some way, even if it was just something small like handing out cookies to try to get more people to join.

    As others have said, Brown's open curriculum allows students to forge their own pathway, so you would have major flexibility to essentially make your own plan for your chosen life goals. Another plus he mentioned is that although Brown encourages independence through the open curriculum, they have amazing and very involved advisors who serve as mentors, so you will never feel lost while trying to create your own path to activism.

    Whatever your decision ends up being, I hope I was of some help!
  • Iheartbrown444Iheartbrown444 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    Congratulations to you!!! I think both schools are fantastic options! I feel like Brown might be a better fit, though, based off of how you've described yourself (I attended Brown so I'm biased, but I know a lot of people who went to/attend Stanford too). Brown has been all about interdisciplinary studies for ages. It's really at the heart of the open curriculum. I went to Columbia for grad studies a long time after finishing up at Brown and while of course it's a fantastic school too, Columbia made it seem like interdisciplinary thinking was an entirely new concept when I had been encouraged to approach subjects through an interdisciplinary lens long ago. Brown is also a place that encourages students to think out of the box and to take intellectual risks, which fosters a really exciting/special intellectual environment that I don't think can be found at many other places. As theoriginalclone said, Brown is really known for activism and you'll definitely find that most of the students care a lot about their fellow students and the world around them. I was friends with students from all different types of backgrounds and that was the norm. At the same time, there were great support networks and resources available to students of color. I can honestly say that I look at the world differently now because of the diverse group of people I was surrounded by at Brown. Something that also really stands out to me about Brown is that it's a really warm/caring type of place that really emphasizes undergrad learning. I feel like my professors were really accessible and helped me enormously along my journey. I think it's hard to get that same type of experience at a school that's more focused on research. I think usually where students decide not to go to Brown is because the ranking isn't as high as some other places, but I've noticed no difference between the opportunities my fellow Brownies have had in comparison to students from other Ivy and Ivy caliber schools. I've actually had a lot of employers tell me how much they like Brown alums because they're typically more creative in their thinking than other people. Plus, I appreciated that the students at Brown tended not to be so ranking/I need to be number 1 focused. At any rate, though, I don't think you can go wrong with your choices, but I do think the ambiance of the two schools will vary in a lot of ways so a lot of it depends on your personality and what works best for you. Good luck with your decision!!
  • bruno14bruno14 Registered User Posts: 2,051 Senior Member
    I grew up right around Palo Alto and a lot of my high school friends went to Stanford while I went to Brown. For me, the biggest difference between the "feel" of the two schools is size. The number of undergrads is about the same at each school, but Stanford has a lot more grad students and a much stronger focus on the grad school programs than I found at Brown.
  • justsemanticsjustsemantics Registered User Posts: 42 Junior Member
    Congrats! Both schools are wonderful, and I imagine you would do well in either. They are both known for having an activist student body.
    Something you should consider is what happens beyond undergrad. If you anticipate applying for grad school/med school, etc. consider what that particular program would feel prepares you best as an applicant. If you are going for med school, they might prefer a major in biology and minor in poly sci from Stanford, whereas some schools and programs would like to see such distinct dual concentrations.
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