Dear Class of 2027,
Congratulations on your acceptance to Brown — we can’t wait to see you on campus! As you prepare to start your college adventure, it’s natural to have certain expectations about what college life will look like. But we want to set the record straight about the Brown experience, to give you a more realistic picture of what to expect in your next four years on College Hill. Here are a few things that we’d like to clear up:
The open curriculum doesn’t mean that we’re all here to spend four years taking finger painting classes Satisfactory/No Credit, which is what Brown calls pass/fail. It can be tempting to misuse the academic freedom at Brown only to take easy classes or ones in your intended concentration. But the open curriculum was designed to challenge you to leave your comfort zone and experiment with fields you may otherwise have never encountered. Shop classes that sound outlandish to you — you will be surprised at how many of them end up in your schedule. And shop classes that seem challenging — you will be surprised at how well you rise to the occasion.
Some call Brown the “Happy Ivy,” but life on College Hill can’t always be sunshine and rainbows — even if the weather during A Day on College Hill always is. Sure, the Main Green looks like a photo from a brochure on some days. But there will also be days on campus with cloudy, 30-degree forecasts where everyone is buried in the stacks studying for midterms. At times, you might feel overwhelmed trying to juggle the stress of classes, friendships and extracurriculars, especially as a first-year acclimating to a new environment and lifestyle. It’s normal not to always feel blissfully happy, even at the “Happy Ivy.”
Brown also has a reputation for 'pot-smoking liberals.' But while the politics of the student body are left-wing — and, for many, April 20 is a de facto holiday — that doesn’t mean that there’s just one kind of Brunonian. There are so many kinds of people at Brown, many of whom don’t neatly fit the stereotypes you might be imagining. Just keep looking and you’ll find your people.
It doesn’t hurt to keep in mind that real-life college doesn’t always look like TV shows, movies and social media, where undergraduates are constantly surrounded by a posse of friends. Of course you will make life-long friendships at Brown, but you will also learn how to build your own schedule and be alone a lot of the time. Sometimes you’ll need to grab a meal when no one else is free, and sometimes you’ll need to ditch your friends to focus on a major assignment due the next day. So be comfortable eating at dining halls alone, working in the library stacks alone and going to the gym alone — we promise, no one is judging you.
With all of that cleared up, you’ll be more than ready to take on life at Brown in all of its complicated glory come this fall. This advice is merely meant to help temper your expectations — allow you to walk through the Van Wickle Gates during orientation with an open mind. It’s best not to put too much pressure on yourself to have the perfect college experience. After all, no college is perfect — Brown is just pretty close.
Congratulations, again, and see you soon!
Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board and aim to contribute informed opinions to campus debates while remaining mindful of the group’s past stances. The editorial page board and its views are separate from The Herald’s newsroom and the 133rd Editorial Board, which leads the paper. This editorial was written by the editorial page board’s editor Kate Waisel ’24 and members Yasmeen Gaber ’23, Tom Li ’26, Jackson McGough ’23, Alissa Simon ’25 and Yael Wellisch ’26.