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Brown vs. UChicago

ccriccri Registered User Posts: 199 Junior Member
edited October 2007 in Brown University
Because Brown and Chicago both do not use the Common App, I was hoping to apply to one of the two. I am aware of Brown's open curriculum vs. Chicago's core and their different calendars and grading systems. But I still need to know more about the student bodies of the schools. I live in RI and love Thayer and Brown's environment.

My gut feeling is leaning towards Chicago, but then after reading lots of literature on both schools, reason tells me that Brown might be a better fit. I plan on majoring in biology or bme. Current students and prospies, could you tell me which one I should choose?
Post edited by ccri on

Replies to: Brown vs. UChicago

  • modestmelodymodestmelody Registered User Posts: 4,654 Senior Member
    Those schools are so drastically different it should be fairly obvious which environment you'd thrive in--

    UChicago-- intensive core, pride in being highly intellectual, "Where fun goes to die"

    Brown-- not.

    You're gonna get pretty biased answers on this board though.
  • MovieBuffMovieBuff - Posts: 971 Member
    These are two very different schools and it is very interesting to see how many students apply to both every year. ( I was one of them! )

    If you are familiar with the Open Curriculum (featured discussion) and Chicago's Core, then the other main differences that you will experience will be in atmosphere, student body and location.

    I found Chicago students to be more uptight and stressed out than those from any of the other universities that I visited (with the exception of Harvard). I found them to be very defensive all the time about the reason why they chose to go to Chicago, or while talking about the core, etc. It was almost like they felt they had to justify all the time why they were Chicago students. The campus is beautiful however the surroundings are not very safe even though it has gotten better in the last few years. They also have a big problem with grade deflation which may be of significance while applying to med or law shool. I personally know a couple of people from my high school that are sophomores there now and have had to change their grad school plans as a result. They are not happy campers, I'll tell you that.

    The quality of the academics is unquestionable and the strong undergrad focus is unquestionable as well. As far as the city, Chicago is my favorite city in the world.

    On the other hand, Brown students are more laid back, artsy, just as intellectual as Chicago students, and certainly happier. Providence is very quaint. If you live in RI , I am sure you know Brown well. I fell in love with Brown after I visited and I come from a very different part of the country.

    I would encourage you to visit the university for a few days and talk to several people (not just the ones that you are matched up with for your visit). If you do that, you will get the vibe and the real feel of the student body. I was really turned off.
  • icebox4icebox4 Registered User Posts: 219 Junior Member
    i applied to both places too.
  • greennbluegreennblue Registered User Posts: 1,736 Senior Member
    Because Brown and Chicago both do not use the Common App
    My understanding is that Chicago uses the common app now, although you still have to write the uncommon essays.
  • unaloveunalove Registered User Posts: 3,725 Senior Member
    We haven't yet converted to common app-- students are still applying through us.

  • arwen15arwen15 Registered User Posts: 804 Member
    For BME, Brown has shown enormous dedication to increasing it's support for specialized research. UChicago has strong academics but as a previous
    poster said I find Brown students to be more tuned in to the "now" of the

    Neither schools are top choices for me but I seem to like Brown over
    UChicago for BME.

    Both university locales are comparable.

    WOnder if deflation is a problem at Brown as well....?
  • ccriccri Registered User Posts: 199 Junior Member
    Arwen, I was thinking of majoring in BME too! is Hopkins your number one choice then? and since Chicago doesn't have BME, are you just applying as a bio major?
  • arwen15arwen15 Registered User Posts: 804 Member
    ccri CALTECHs CHem Engineering with
    Molecular Biology Option or Princeton's Chem Engg with Molecular Biology
    and Integrated Sciences track both provide nice choices for UG BME.
    Duke is the other one with plenty of research opportunities at the UG level.

    JHU Dorm situation did not make me comfortable.
  • MovieBuffMovieBuff - Posts: 971 Member
    arwen15, UChicago's grade deflation is very well established. The ivies have a reputation for more "inflation", if anything....
  • afanafan Registered User Posts: 1,686 Senior Member
    Rumors of Chicago grade deflation are greatly exaggerated.


    When Princeton was considering its grade deflation initiative, it collected data on its peer institutions- the Ivies, plus Stanford, MIT, and Chicago. For all of these colleges, the percent of undergraduate grades that were A's ranged from 44 to 55%. To much fanfare, Princeton proposed to move lower within, but to remain within, this range.
  • unaloveunalove Registered User Posts: 3,725 Senior Member
    thank you for that, afan!!! I hardly think of a 3.26 average GPA is low, considering a B+ is a 3.3.

    (Source: http://www.gradeinflation.com/chicago.html)

    What that indicates to me (I don't have standard deviation to help me out here, but rather the rumors of harsh grading) is that a good portion of students are doing well-- A-range grades well. To have all A's here is unusual and difficult (depending on courseload and major), but to have some throughout one's undergraduate career is not at all uncommon.

    Again, though, I'm not sure why relative non-inflation would be a deterrent. I'm not at school to get all A's-- I'm here to work hard and learn, and if there are a few low grades peppered in there, so be it.
  • MovieBuffMovieBuff - Posts: 971 Member
    My personal take on this: When you have very high achieving high school students, who worked for years to keep 4.0s and to reach almost perfect SAT scores, their expectations maybe somewhat "conditioned" to maintain similar grades while in college. Most students attending ivies and peer schools fall in that category.

    Grade deflation maybe quiet stressful for some people and it is certainly a deterrent to some others planning careers in medicine and law. Fortunately, graduate schools do look at the intensity and reputation of the university, so that would balance the "deflation" some.

    afan, I think that if rumors of Chicago grade deflation are greatly exaggerated, may be in part UChicago students own fault. There are multiple threads where they have been very "proud" to provide some statistics as "no one graduating with a 4.0 in over 12 years" "no one ever getting a A in a particular class" and so on. You go figure! However, the fact that they have much lower average GPAs than other schools is an unquestionable fact.
  • unaloveunalove Registered User Posts: 3,725 Senior Member
    The 4.0 one is not true about Chicago (there's a mythbusters-y article about it, I'll find a link to it later), but it's nice to tell stories.

    I've said before that Chicago is not the right school for somebody who really likes getting good grades. My GPA is currently below that 3.26, and I'm having the time of my life socially and intellectually.
  • GoingToSpaceBRBGoingToSpaceBRB Registered User Posts: 59 Junior Member
    Both are fine schools.

    But I think you should ask your "gut" why it moved for Chicago in the first place. Explore it.

    If you can't make heads or tails of it, I would definately apply to Chicago, mainly because 1. I think it's a great school, and 2. If you live near Brown already, you might want to pack your bags and leave by the time your done with highschool.

    After all, there's something very satisfying about taking a leap out of your doorstep, and into the refreshingly new, uncharted territory of a different city with an amazing university to match.
  • ccriccri Registered User Posts: 199 Junior Member
    GoingToSpaceBRB, that's a good point. The proximity of Brown was one of the main reasons I had been hesitant about it in the first place. And from what I hear and see, Providence definitely cannot compare with Chicago.
This discussion has been closed.