Providence, RI: When one thinks of IvyLeague schools, Harvard, Yale and Princeton immediately come to mind.Brown University, embedded in the brownstones of Providence’sCollege Hill, is a lesser-known member of the “AncientEight,” and although it has a lot in common with its peers -extremely selective admissions, an outstanding academic reputation, anda strong sense of tradition - there is plenty to set itapart.
Perhaps the most remarkable distinction between Brown andother colleges is its academic philosophy. Under the New Curriculum(established almost 40 years ago), Brown dropped distributionrequirements and abolished letter grades to allow students the chance totake courses pass/fail. While some universities have followedBrown’s lead by emphasizing personal choice and de-emphasizinggrades, the New Curriculum continues to make Brown standout.
Brown’s commitment to progress does not end with itsacademics. Unlike some Ivy League schools that have twice as manygraduate students as undergraduates, Brown continues to focus on thefirst four years, with an undergraduate-to-graduate ratio of about 3:1.Furthermore, Brown appointed the Ivy League’s firstAfrican-American president in 2001, Ruth J. Simmons, a professor ofcomparative literature and Africana studies (and former president ofSmith College). Brown offers opportunities rare at other schools,including Egyptology and History of Mathematics, as well as credit forart courses at the nearby prestigious Rhode Island School ofDesign.
Brown, the nation’s seventh-oldest university, wasfounded in 1764 as a Baptist college and its sense of tradition isstrong. It is different from the average college, however, because ofits increasingly progressive views toward education and its management.In turn, its forward thinking has paid off - Princeton Review surveysindicate Brown students are the happiest in the country, withoutcompromising their academic integrity and excellence. (Brown is rankedfifteenth in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.) Brown is specialbecause while its Ivy League roots place a priority on the maintenanceof academic tradition, both its students and faculty continue tochallenge the status quo of American higher education.
Brown’s website is brown.edu.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.