Alternative Ivy?

<p>I've heard Brown be labeled the "alternative ivy" before for it's more rebellious, more alternative, more liberal student body. What do you guys think -- is this reputation deserved? </p>

<p>Has it made you want to apply any more or less to the school?</p>

<p>I think that is a great question, and I'm interested to read other people's responses as well.</p>

<p>I think Brown is labeled as the "alternative ivy", and deservedly so. I think this also polarizes people right away. There is little doubt for those of us here, that Brown attracts and accepts a certain type of person. As the dean of the college was famously quoted saying to prospective students, "if some part of you doesn't have that funky, artsy, romantic flair, go to Princeton..."</p>

<p>As a Brown graduate, I agree with the "alternative" comment, but not in the way you might think. Though we had our share of artsy & "alternative" characters, there were plenty of lockjawed preppies at Brown too, plus outright nerds, lots and lots of typical suburban eager-beavers, and even a few rednecks! </p>

<p>The big difference from HYP is that the typical Brown student is not as intensely competitive. They like to have fun, to be seen as "fun," and they tend to downplay their strong academic credentials. They tend to really value a balanced life, that involves blowing off work once in a while. When everyone around you acts like this, you feel more permitted to be mellow too.</p>

<p>I remember explaining to a friend that Brown students actually work as hard as is humanly possible while managing to present a seamless image to the world that they aren't working particularly hard at all. It was NEVER difficult to pull a friend or two out of the library to go have fun. (However, they probably went home from the party and secretly worked another three hours...) Several people I thought of as confirmed dissolute wastrels were, shockingly, listed Summa Cum Laude at graduation!</p>

<p>All of this leads to a nice relaxed feeling on campus. Brown is not a pressure cooker. Brown collectively gives you permission to breathe, explore, have fun, and even sleep! Yet everyone still achieves at a very high level and people are passionate about what they do.</p>

<p>I had a boyfriend at Harvard. I was visiting him a few days after he had been ill and missed a few classes. In the library, he saw a classmate and asked her if he could xerox her notes from a missed class... and she said <em>no</em>!! This would NEVER have happened at Brown. A perfect stranger that you only recognized as a "face from Econ" would always be willing to share notes, or stop his own work and go over a thorny question, if you approached him in the library. There was a really good community feeling at Brown.</p>

<p>Brown also has the open curriculum, so nobody is taking the same slate of classes as anyone else, and everyone is learning about self-chosen, exciting topics. This system also diminishes stress and competition.</p>

<p>People who are drawn to Brown tend to be very internally driven and independent. They don't need many external rewards to perform. They have passions and they learn for learning's sake. They like to experiment. I'd really describe the typical Brown student as a freewheeling extrovert with a lot of self confidence and a willingness to pursue uncharted territory, and as someone who really values being happy while they learn.</p>

<p>To clarify, by "a certain type of person", I did not mean to say everyone is the same. In fact, the make-up of the student body is incredibly diverse in every imaginable way (race, personality, etc). What I was referring to is the uniquely self-driven types with a willingness to explore--Brown is really looking for students who will take the most of the academic freedom and have a desire to engage their passions civically, outside of classes.</p>

<p>You are right, dcircle.</p>

<p>Wow, SBMom....My daughter is a freshman at Brown and your description of what kids at Brown are like really fits her! I am not sure I realized all that while she was applying but now that I am reading it, it is so true of her and also what she has now found the atmosphere and experience to be like 2 1/2 months into her first year. She loves it. She fits Brown and Brown fits her. It really seems like you described! </p>


<p>Susan, </p>

<p>I am so glad your D is loving it at Brown. Brown does a good job of determining who will match the school, so most Brown students are thrilled with the environment. One thing your D is getting that I did not is the AWESOME Ruth Simmons as President. She is inspirational (from sharecropper's kid to Ivy Phd) intellectual, and a force of nature who has gotten Brown alums into a giving spree.</p>

<p>I went to a great San Francisco Brown Club speech she gave, when she was brand new to Brown. She was smart as a whip and very warm and natural, and obviously really "got" the unique aspects of Brown and embraced them. After this brief 'praise Brown' feel-good opener, she basically said to the crowd: Now, we all know that Brown is great and we're going to keep everything that makes it great. But I have a plan to make a truly great place the BEST place. First, we need to hire all the best faculty, and it will be expensive, but we will do it. Then we'll need to get all the best students to come to Brown, to interact with the incredible faculty we will provide, and this MUST be done irrespective of their financial situation if we are to truly have the BEST. Need-blind admission is the right thing to do, so we're going to do it... because it will make Brown a better place, and because it's morally right, and everyone here tonight absolutely knows in his heart that it is right. We'll just have to figure out how to pay for it as we go, because not doing it is not an option and we're not waiting. We know you alumni will help us because you love your school and want Brown to do the right thing and to be the very best place in the world. </p>

<p>People were weeping! It was so great that she could understand and LOVE every single thing that was already wonderful about Brown and still, right off the bat, she reset Brown's bar even higher and steam rolled all the naysayers & opposition to make it happen. </p>

<p>I would love to know how the need blind admission policy has changed Brown (probably fewer lockjawed preppies!) President Simmons has made me really proud of my alma mater.</p>

<p>SBMom....I also am very impressed by Ruth Simmons (who by the way used to be at Smith). I had the fortune of hearing her speak at A Day on College Hill, which is the open house event for accepted students in April. She addressed the parents who came for this event. She was just so great! </p>

<p>My D apparently heard her speak recently. In fact, my D went up to meet her afterwards apparently. The reason was that my D had been accepted to Smith and had considered Smith and when she turned Smith down, the tennis coach (one of many folks at Smith she had quite a bit of contact with) upon getting a note from my D who wrote and told those at Smith who were so nice to her that she ultimately decided on Brown, that she wished my D well and would she give Ruth Simmons her best at Brown. So, true to my D's word, this fall, upon hearing Ms. Simmons speak, my D went up to her to deliver the message from the coach back at Smith and then wrote the Smith coach to tell her so. (As you can see, my D even maintained contact with college folk long past when she supposedly "needed" to because she LIKED to). </p>

<p>Recently on Parent Weekend, I attended a HUGE gathering at the athletic center to hear Dustin Hoffman speak. He is a parent of a current Brown student. Ruth Simmons also spoke and the love for her was palpable. I think she has already made a difference at the school with several initiatives. Did you know that one of them is that first year students on financial aid, like my D, do not do work study but get that "stipend" as a grant instead? </p>

<p>Anyway, the school so far seems to be perfect for my D as I cannot begin to tell ya how happy she is that she went there now that she is there. I can see after the fact, how many of her characteristics fit the Brown "profile". </p>

<p>My D is going to be coming home briefly this weekend for the first time since college started ten weeks ago, to see her sister in a major production up here where we live as she is very supportive of her. I can't wait to see her too. </p>



<p>My D met the Smith tennis coach too, and we really liked her a lot. She seemed like a real coach and had a great personality. (Not quite great enough to overcome lack of males on campus...) I think you can feel the Simmons energy at Smith too-- the excitement, the very high expectations, the pride, everything humming.</p>

<p>Yes, I knew about the no work-study thing for frosh. Another expensive but worthy Simmons innovation that she just made happen through force of personality. (I wonder how the trustees must feel about her?!)</p>

<p>Have a great great weekend with your D at home. I feel wistful even thinking about that routine next year.</p>

<p>Every post I read makes me ache to be a brown student more and more. I am one of those closet hard workers. I need to meet some of those!</p>