Are professors at Brown more understanding than professors in other universities?

<p>They give higher GPAs to students. But does this mean that they’re more willing to give students the benefit of the doubt?</p>

<p>Also, how does the ugrad culture here compare to the grad student culture here?</p>

<p>I'd be careful with assuming correlation implies causality. The average GPA at Brown is indeed very high. One must remember, however, that at Brown, failures don't count towards one's GPA (they don't show up on one's external transcript). Students may take any course they want pass/fail, so a course deemed challenging may be taken in a way such that it doesn't go on one's transcript. Additionally, students don't have a core or a wide variety of distribution requirements that would generally lead them to take courses they're not comfortable with in areas that they struggle in. Keeping those in mind, I'd argue that professors don't necessarily have much to do with the higher GPAs (and for the sake of completeness, it must be said that Brown doesn't compute GPAs as an institution, so professors just give grades).</p>

<p>In my experience, few professors have given me the benefit of the doubt when I've been on a grade cusp. In the cases where I thought they did, it turned out that the cutoff for an A was far from where I thought it would be. (For what it's worth, professors are much harsher on the grad students in some departments and not in others. In Classics, something an undergrad submitted for an A could easily get a C from a grad student. In computer science, I haven't noticed anyone held to different standards.)</p>

<p>There are many more undergrads than grad students, and undergrads seem much more likely to spend time with people in other departments, so things seem much different socially for grad students. Like many seniors, grad students almost always live off campus and are not on any meal plan. Grad students often have more to do, since they have to take a full courseload, at least some of which are grad courses, and (department dependent) work around 20 hours a week. Grad students seem to be under much more stress, especially since the "passing" grade is higher and preliminary exams are stressful.</p>

<p>I second Uroogla on most points. I've taken many classes that were legitimately challenging, and I don't think the professors have given me the benefit of the doubt when my grade was on the cusp. Some professors will grade you not by absolute standards (i.e. an A = an average of X), but by how much you've improved over the course of the semester. This is different, though, from an "A for effort." My point is that Brown professors aren't necessarily any more sympathetic, at least in my experience as a science major.</p>

<p>Uroogla--what do you mean by a "full course load?" Most grad students I know in my department take about two or three courses a semester and spend the rest of their time on their research projects.</p>

<p>In the classics department, PhD candidates take 4 courses a term their first 2 years (including 2-3 grad seminars), in addition to teaching or proctoring duties of 20 hours a week in the second year and their own research and reading on the side. As this is the department where I best know the grad students, this is the situation with which I'm most familiar. However, skimming over requirements for other departments, it seems more normal is 3 courses, research, and teaching each term.</p>

<p>The three courses a semester doesn't usually take into account the internships a lot of programs are requiring. Personally, I will have to take three a semester, plus two internships (over the course of two years), as well as research. I will also need a job because, lets be honest, I am broke.</p>

<p>As for GPAs and lenient professors, I would agree with Uroogla. Though I have not started at Brown, it would be very rare for any university to have high GPAs as a result of easy professors. Students showing a vested interest have, in my experience, been given the benefit of the doubt, but not by enough to significantly alter their final GPA.</p>

<p>First, they don't give higher GPAs</p>

<p>Second, I've attended 3 universities (transfer, exchange, etc). The public school with a lot of rules had the least "forgiving" teachers, but both small private schools were exactly the same in this regard -- some good teachers, some bad. Some understanding, some not. And this is coming from someone with a lot of issues. It's also hard to say without broad comparison, but it's going to be pretty much the same at any top 50 private school. </p>

<p>One thing that Brown does have is very understanding Deans -- and there are a ton of them (dean of mental health, dean of lbgtq issues, dean of residential life, dean of substance abuse, dean of this, dean of that), and that influence does go a long way with the professors. </p>

<p>If you have disability needs, I found the support services office less than satisfactory for getting accomodations</p>

<p>Thanks for the replies everyone!</p>

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Students showing a vested interest have, in my experience, been given the benefit of the doubt, but not by enough to significantly alter their final GPA.

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<p>Wow I see. By "vested interest", what do you mean?</p>

<p>===</p>

<p>NapoleonInRags - I really liked your reply. Thanks very much! =) Yeah - the thing with the deans probably explains it (I wouldn't expect professors anywhere to be particularly different from each other)</p>

<p>By vested interest I mean going for help and showing real effort. For instance, you may not be the best in economics, but you go to the professor weekly for tutoring and for advice on how to increase your score. Showing significant effort to improve tells a professor that even of youre not the best student, you have worked hard enough to get a small bump. It may be from a C- to a C if you're on that cusp. It may even be a C+ to a B-. It all depends on the interest you show in improvement.</p>

<p>Be warned, not all professors work this way, though. Its a personal choice entirely.</p>

<p>Its very, very, highly professor specific, but the bump is not as blatant as gradgirl implies. It usually will also require an upward trend where your average is pulled down by early scores that the professor no longer feels are representative of you.</p>

<p>An extreme, but somewhat different example is orgo, where I remember it was official course policy that an A on the cumulative final got you an A in the course regardless of your score on the midterm (e.g. even if you failed the midterm).</p>

<p>For the record, Brown does not have +'s and -'s.</p>

<p>I didnt mean for it to sound blatant. I thought vested interest was obvious, so I was trying to be very clear as to my meaning. Its definitely not blatant, nor is it something a professor generally announces. Its also not something you ask about in class on the first day. If this occurs, youll notice it on your score report at the end of the semester.</p>

<p>Also, the example i_wanna gave isnt really what I'm talking about. Ive had multiple courses (at other strong schools) with the same policy. Especially in the chemistries, professors might view the exams as learning experiences. If you've mastered the material, the final generally reflects that. Sometimes classes with tough exams let you drop the lowest. Some professors include the final, most don't. This is something every student has the opportunity to take advantage of. I was saying that if a specific student shows serious effort (and an upward trend, which I figured was implied) they might be bumped as opposed to the student showing no extra effort or interest (to the professor) to improve his/her grades.</p>

<p>Hmm - I just visited Brown now, and the professors are INCREDIBLY warm (one even invited me to his house for dinner). They really embrace the concept of the university-college.</p>

<p>That being said - they were in the Geo dept. The same might not be true for the profs in the other departments</p>

<p>No + or -? True? So possible grades are only A B C D F and PASS (“credit”)?</p>

<p>True. We don’t even have D’s. Just A, B, C, S (satisfactory = pass) and NC (no credit = fail). And NC’s don’t show up on your transcript.</p>

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<p>Interesting - how can its deans influence the professors? Can they influence graduate advisers too?</p>