Is Brandeis food and housing that bad? Concerned about what i read.

My high school senior daughter likes the academics of Brandeis and the Jewish element. However, we heard the food and dorms are subpar. She heard that some rooms flood. I am concerned with the quality of the campus considering the high cost. We also hear that first year roommate pairing is randomly generated by the college which doesnt sit well with me.

I had a read of the recent Brandeis newspaper and there are articles referring to changing the food services provider. There was also an article about a new person hired to implement upgrades to the campus though it seems changes may not be complete in time for my daughter to benefit.

Is is true that there will be improvements to dining and the buildings in time for my daughter to benefit? Or is this talk of improvement a broken record?

For the price that Brandeis is, I am not thrilled with the lack of upgrades that seem badly needed.

I can speak only as a visitor to campus, not as a student attending or parent of such, so hopefully someone with more direct and prolonged experience will chime in.

My son thought that Brandeis had the best dining hall food of the colleges we visited where he ate, so that’s something! My spouse and I ate there too, and we really liked the food, also.

(Son visited 21 colleges and ate at most but not all of them— alas, not Bowdoin, which is rumored to have the best food).

The dorm room we saw at Brandeis was a “forced triple” and very tiny for three people. The inhabitants said forced triples were pretty common, but this visit was in 2016, so maybe things have changed.

The other thing that we did not like about the housing was that most juniors and seniors live off-campus. That would not bother some people. It bothered us everywhere we saw it (it was a mark against Cornell for us, as well); we wanted four year housing to be available and common on campus.

At the time, we reflected that the Brandeis campus seemed kind of tight and that there was not a lot of room to expand, to build a shiny new dorm, etc.

I do not have an issue with the time-honored system of first year roommate pairing being done by a college. I think that places where entering students who do not know one another are responsible for finding their own roommate online with minimal info about one another would be a much more stressful system. But others may feel differently.

As far as Brandeis having leaks, etc., goes— well, maybe that is true many places. My son’s room this year at the much wealthier Williams had a leak, and half the furniture in his room was broken when we arrived and needed repair. (They did repair it, quickly, and they were very pleasant about it, but we were annoyed that we had to ask.).

Honestly, I think that many “top” colleges are putting much more of their money into academics (professors’ salaries, etc.) and financial aid to attract poor students, than into maintaining a high “quality of life.” We have been disappointed at a lot of the quality of life stuff at our son’s college, considering how much we are paying! But, on the other hand, and more importantly, the academic experience and other learning opportunities have been so very wonderful.

To echo above, I think the subpar dorms and food are common with selective LACs. My daughter’s dorm room and building has a mice problem, the window screens are ripped letting bugs in, the bathrooms are disgusting, and the furniture old and rickety. The food is meh too. This is at Haverford, an equally expensive place.

Thanks for the replies. I can see what you mean, @TheGreyKing, about the benefits to the college leading the roommate selection. But Brandeis is the only college we have come across that purportedly randomly assigns two people. No eharmony type match up. For ex. Messy with neat, late night with early riser. I was wondering if this lack of care on the Brandeis part is indicative of lack of care in other ways.

At our Barnard tour, i liked hearing that barnard has human staff pairing up roommates after reviewing students’ lengthy questionnaires. That sort of match up would prevent my messy daughter from disappointing her neat roommate.

Again, i am just trying to get a sense if Brandeis is lacking. Maybe there are current families reading this who can chime in. It is one of. my daughter’s top choice colleges (and is applying regular decision) but I’d like to be reassured Brandeis is the best choice.

Several years ago I read a study of roommate assignments out of Indiana University (which of course I can no longer find on line). The study looked at requests to change roommates during freshman year. The highest percentage of change requests came from students who had requested and received a specific roommate. (Apparently your best friend in high school turned out to be impossible to live with). The next highest percentage of change requests was from students who were “matched” by some algorithm. The lowest percentage of change requests came from students who were randomly assigned.

Other than the forced triple aspect, I didn’t think the dorms were particularly bad. We have toured about 20 campuses, and the ones at Brandeis were pretty middle of the road. Dorms have swayed my daughter for or against a few schools (loved Goucher, hated Lewis and Clark). I agree that many of the really selective colleges have terrible dorms - and the Ivies don’t even do housing tours, so you can’t see for yourself. I also know of other kids who have gone to selective schools (Colgate, Northeastern) who ended up in forced triples.

I did not realize the random pairing method - but I don’t think my daughter would consider that a make or break issue.

The new Sophomore dorm looked really nice, but we did not see inside of it. I did not get the sense that the majority of juniors and seniors live off campus, although some do - housing is definitely available.

I thought the dining seemed pretty decent. My only concern was that my daughter is vegetarian and since the dining hall is kosher, the tour guide could not tell us if there are meat and dairy options at all meals.

I have a first year at Brandeis. Incoming students filled out a questionnaire about their preferences and it was used by the school to help select roommates. Our kid ended up in a triple – there are true triples with an extra sitting room and “forced” triples where they add a 3rd bed. My first year has commented repeatedly on what a good job they did on matching dorm mates, not only in the room but in the dorm. Highly satisfied with two terrific roommates. There’s a brand new dorm for sophomores called Skyline–opened last year? or in 2017? Not sure but it is lovely. It isn’t true that most of the juniors and seniors live off campus–just that housing isn’t guaranteed after sophomore year. Our kids eats in Usdan and likes the food – our older kid visited who is a real foodie and thought there were great options. First year dorms are certainly basic but bathrooms quite clean. I completely understand the concern about paying such a steep tuition and considering the facilities less than exciting but boy oh boy was Brandeis the right choice for our kid–truly thriving on the mix of rigorous academics, an inviting culture and exactly the right fit. There are certainly nicer dorms in other schools – facilities at Brandeis could use an upgrade; it is a bit of a mixed bag there; some brand new facilities and some that are overdue for overhaul. But it makes us happy to visit this school which is lovely in so many other ways–community, commitment to the intellect, and an open acceptance of all kinds of student who are made happy by finding their people.

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Thank you sikversmith, that is nice to hear.

hi student here of brandeis. So food will be college food. We are getting a new vendor! So fingers crossed it is better. But it’s not bad esp if you get the 12 meals plan where you get around 850 points which is equal to $850 per semester (& 1st sem leftovers roll into 2nd sem). There are always good options like Einstein’s, Louis Deli or Curritos & the dining halls vary day to day. But usually asking around or looking on the Branda app can tell you which dining hall has better options! Honestly, I didn’t mind the food & people like to complain. I’m vegetarian & I was fine so she will be totally good :slight_smile:

So there are two residence halls! I lived in North & I should mention I am a first year so I know the whole dorm/room-mate situation well. I lived in a double & let me say that my room was really nice & spacious! Whenever I had friends from other schools come they would tell me how much bigger it was. My best friends went to NEU & BU & the dorm situation at Brandeis is so much nicer & bigger. North Quad for the win! sorry no need to big up the freshman quad debate (north is better :)) As for a roommate, Brandeis does match people up decently well. Also there is a questionnaire, it not 100% random. My roommate and I were able to live together really well & I think it was for the best we weren’t best friends because we had space & that is key in college. Having your roommate be you best friend can be problematic at times & I was honestly grateful that my roommate and I weren’t bestest of friends. However, for whatever reason, Brandeis is very good at making your hall-mates your closest friends. My best friends lived down the hall and the floor below me, so I was always happy with the situation! Going random was so scary to me last summer but honestly Brandeis makes it work for most people & your hall mates, they are the people who stick around & become family.

The whole community is wonderful & I truly miss my deis family :,)

Please feel free to reach out with any questions :slight_smile:

There are two sections to Sherman, the dining hall someone called the “Kosher Dining Hall” The kosher section & the non kosher section! So you will be able to find non kosher items in the dining hall!

Hi Silversmith. Just visited Brandeis today. I loved it so much for my son. Contained campus, seemed inclusive, solid academics— it just seemed great. But it did feel a bit decrepit. I worry that it’s in dire financial shape. Also I’ve read fairly disheartening things on Niche about the social life. Just wondering if your first year is still happy? Thx!

Hi Stefanie1–I just messaged you back with more details. Yes, he loves it! Junior now–loving the academics, environment, his group of friends, the clubs – Brandeis definitely kept its promise–he has gotten to know faculty in his major who have championed his progress, has explored a new field which will become his profession, and is finding himself in all the ways parents want for young adults. I think Brandeis is a bit of a best kept secret–stellar students, devoted faculty, a campus that is both small enough to be comfortable but big enough as a true University to offer many resources and options. It’s an amazing fit for the introverted kid who is highly committed to their interests but still wants what we all want–true friends, a path forward, recognition for their abilities–and room to explore. Let me know what your kid decides!