AMA: Sophomore Student-Athlete @ Brown

Take 2 lol. Exactly what it says on the title! Haven’t seen any AMAs recently from student-athletes, so I thought I’d start one. Of course I can answer (almost) anything about Brown in general too!

A little bit of my background:

  • I’m concentrating in a STEM field, not premed tho
  • I walked on to my niche sport’s varsity team at Brown, but was offered a recruiting slot at one other ivy
  • I looked seriously at all the ivies except Columbia, and got accepted to quite a few of them
  • Ended up deciding between Brown, W&M with 1693 scholarship, and stamps scholarship at a public flagship

What separated Brown from the other Ivy you were accepted into?

Why didn’t you consider Columbia?

What did your high school career look like (clubs, classes, free time)?

Brown was my dream school! The academic culture of learning for fun, open curriculum, collaborative, weird interests, etc was literally perfect for me, and my team was super nice. I was honored to be offered a recruiting slot at another school, but it wasn’t perfect for me like Brown. For me, Brown > Harvard because I didn’t love the vibe of Harvard’s campus–just a little too formal/overachieving for me, and their team wasn’t great. Brown > Princeton because I didn’t love the cutthroat nature of the classes I heard about. Brown > Penn, didn’t want to be in large city, also some concerns about culture. Brown > Dartmouth bc I didn’t want Greek life. Finally, Cornell is just a lil too big and it’s difficult to switch between colleges.

I did not consider Columbia bc I had no interest in being in NYC or adhering to a core curriculum.

Like most ivy league students/SAs, I was always busy in high school. My sport was fall and spring, plus robotics all winter, a couple of academic extracurriculars, some dance, and career-related summer experiences. I took the most rigorous schedule available at my neighborhood public hs, which ended up being like 10 AP classes I think. There weren’t a whole lot of options; the “honors track” people all pretty much did the same thing.

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Thanks for the response.

I was thinking of learning more about Brown (despite it being a pipe dream school) because I had heard of the quirky nature of the curriculum. But, to me, Brown also protrudes this aura that you need to have an impossibly interesting personality and background to fit with its unique system (if that makes sense).

Does that have any truth to it?

Everyone here is super interesting, for sure, but you def don’t need an “interesting background.” Somehow, you need to get the AOs attention, but once you get here, it’s so so easy to develop new interests, meet amazing people, and get involved in cool stuff. You are probably significantly more interesting than you realize.

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Can you please describe how “shopping period” works and describe how students use P/F and audit options to build class schedules.

Shopping period lasts for the first two weeks of the semester, and during shopping, pretty much everyone tries out a ton of classes that they’re interested in taking. Upperclassmen normally have 1-3 concentration requirements per semester, but almost everyone can take at least one class purely out of interest most semesters. Most people attend LOTS of classes for the first two days of classes, I’d say 7-10 is normal. People are literally running across campus trying to be in two places at once. By the end of the first week, you can normally narrow down below 7. For the next week and a half, you can try out the classes still, but they start with some light assignment. After two weeks, most people choose to take 4 classes, but 3 and 5 are also considered full-time.

Every class at Brown can be taken Satisfactory/No Credit, which is our version of pass fail. Some are required to be S/NC–literary arts, visual art, and intro physics come to mind. The point of the S/NC option is to promote exploration in new fields that people might not be as comfortable. For example, as a very science-y concentrator, I took a journalism class S/NC so that I could purely learn the material and techniques without worrying about grades. Auditing a course means something different for every class, but generally means attending class and doing the readings but no assignments. It’s a fantastic way to learn new things, and pretty common–Brown is THE place for academically curious people. Plus auditing shows up on your transcript, which is fun.

Normal courseload is 4 classes every semester, with one S/NC. TAships, research, and music stuff often can count as course credit and lots of people use them as a 4.5/5th course. Crazy people (me among them this semester) take five classes, and a five class schedule almost always includes S/NC in at least one class.


Do you also use this system when you’re a graduate student?

Nope! Different systems for different grad programs. For instance, we have some 5th-year masters and others that are mostly course-based, while PhD programs are less about the classes and more about research (and TAing). And of course the med school is a whole different beast.

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