Brown University Junior (Public Health, 5 Year UG/MPH)-- ask me anything

I’m a junior at Brown studying public health in the 5 year UG/MPH program. I went to a public high school and took APs/A Levels. Took both the ACT and SAT and subject tests. I applied to 15 or 16 schools. At Brown I’m involved in research, have a few campus jobs, am on orientation committee, am in a sorority, wrote for Spoon University, played club basketball, and am in a lot of clubs. I’ve taken a lot of classes in biology, history, TAPS, stats, Spanish, and more. Ask me anything about applying to school, Brown, my experience, etc.

Do you know if there’s a large computer science program?

Brown has computer science. A lot of people take CS classes (both concentrators and non-concentrators). It is know for being a very difficult concentration, but I know many people who do it (often as a double concentration).

Good to know! Thank you!

How was living at Brown/the area around it like? I just got admitted as a public health major and I’m from SoCal. As stupid as it sounds, I’m worried about buying new clothes to keep me warm during the winter because my family is low-income.

Also, do you feel that there is an elitist vibe at Brown? I applied to Brown because I heard it was the “most accepting & chilliest ivy” out there. I am worried about not fitting in because I am not rich.

Do you feel that the science/public health classes at Brown were overly difficult, like they were made to make you get weeded out?

@GrayMatter We live in NorCal and I don’t think my son owns a jacket. LOL.

Hi there!

First off, congratulations!! That is wonderful news. It takes an incredible amount of hard work, and I’m sure your admission is extremely well earned. Welcome to the family!

  1. I really like Providence/the Brown area. It’s definitely urban, but still has a real campus feel. When you’re on the Green, it’s beautiful and looks completely collegiate. But you can walk a street over and have restaurants, CVS, etc. College Hill is still a bit of a bubble, but I find there is plenty to do. It’s a great city to be in when you are first living on your own because it is very manageable while not being isolated.

  2. I am also from the West Coast, and finances/costs were also a big concern for me-- it’s not stupid at all! To be totally frank, you will need a warm winter coat. And hats, gloves, scarves, wool socks, etc. And preferably some type of boot or waterproof shoe, but you can probably get away without that if you have shoes with great traction. It does get cold (especially for those of us from the West Coast), so you can’t be totally unprepared. However, it doesn’t get CRAZY cold. It isn’t like Dartmouth, Cornell, or schools in the Midwest that get into negative temperatures. Most winter days are in the 20-35 degree range. There might be a few colder days each year (i.e. 10 degrees), but nothing like that regularly.
    You absolutely do NOT need Canada Goose or something like that to stay warm here. Get something puffy and somewhat warm that you can layer a lot under. But you definitely don’t need to be paying multiple hundreds of dollars for a coat. I was worried that would be the case, but it totally isn’t.

  3. Elitist vibes-- good question. I won’t lie and say elitism doesn’t exist at Brown. It totally does. There are definitely circles of very wealthy people with elitist vibes who tend to stick together. The administration itself can also be a bit out of touch with the real needs of students which doesn’t help.
    HOWEVER: the “vibe” of the Brown student body is DEFINITELY NOT elitist. Yeah, it certainly exists, but the vast majority of students are not like that, and most students don’t come from “elite” backgrounds. The overall campus culture amongst students does not support elitist vibes.
    I am deeeeeefinitely not rich. Most of my friends are not, either. Some are, but they are super chill and never make me feel uncomfortable. Brown has a very supportive student community that I have found to be extremely accepting. For example, I am in a sorority (usually an environment associated with peak elitism) that has a lot of members that identify as low income, first generation, LGTBQ+, and from a variety of other diverse backgrounds. At Brown, I have found that if you are kind to people and act like yourself, you will find communities where you feel at home.

  4. Weed-out classes-- another good question. Public health and STEM-science classes (i.e. biology, chemistry, physics) are all very different, so I’ll split this up. School of public health does not try to weed students out. Everyone is different as a student, but I (and peers) have found that the classes provide a challenge, and I do need to work hard, but they are fair. There are obviously always going to be exceptions, but I feel like the material in most public health classes is meant to help you learn rather than deter you from continuing. Great department and great concentration.
    As for STEM classes, it hugely depends on the person and the specific department/class. If you are premed, remember this: the point of premed at any school is to weed people out. Almost all premed courses are meant largely for that reason. So yeah, if you are premed at Brown it might feel like some of the courses are excessive or unhelpful or irrelevant. But I don’t think that’s the case any more at Brown than other schools. Sadly, it’s the name of the game. (You can unpack all of the implications with that in your public health courses!)
    If you are thinking about actually pursuing in a STEM concentration, it really depends. Some might have weed out-type classes early on, but at the same time those classes will likely be crucial for understanding your other courses later. The general consensus is that STEM classes are a lot of work and can be pretty stressful/excessive (especially chemistry). However, that is going to be the case at most peer institutions, so I wouldn’t let that deter you from trying it out if you are passionate about it. My advice is don’t take more than one STEM/lab class your first semester. College learning transition is always hard, so give yourself a semester to learn how to actually do college and try out the department, but don’t swamp yourself early on.

Again, congrats! Feel free to ask follow-up or clarifying questions if I wasn’t thorough or clear.

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