What do Emma Watson, John F. Kennedy Jr., and Serena van der Woodsen from Gossip Girl have in common? They have all attended Brown University, the most liberal university in the Ivy League. Although small in area (only 143 acres), Brown is large in spirit and tradition. As one of the oldest colleges in the nation, Brown has remained a popular university because of its academic freedom and its diverse student body.
In politics, academics, and behavior, the Brown student body is known for its hippie-like sensibilities. For example, one of the major traditions of Brown includes a night called Sex Power God where the actual events remain ambiguous to those who do not attend, but wild speculation runs rampant. In fact, major conservative news personalities such as Bill O’Reilly have targeted this Brown tradition with major criticism and disgust, to the delight of many Brown students. However, not all of the school’s traditions are as controversial or as extreme, some of the most beloved traditions include the Midnight Organ Concert on Halloween where an organist performs spooky music on the largest remaining Hutchings-Votey organ in the world.
Another aspect of Brown that emphasizes its liberal nature is the complete academic freedom given to its students. The New Curriculum is unique in that it does not have a core curriculum that every student must complete in order to graduate. The university believes that this system promotes an interest in gaining knowledge instead of just getting a grade. While there are still requirements in each specific concentration, Brown encourages its students to be fearless in their intellectual interests and delve deeper into subjects that they may not have been exposed to previously. Brown also allows students to take courses at the nearby Rhode Island School of Design, one of the preeminent art schools in America.
With all of this freedom, it is no surprise that Brown consistently tops the list of happiest students and of dream schools for students all across the nation. However, it is one of the hardest schools to get into with an acceptance rate of only 9%, lower than University of Pennsylvania’s acceptance rate of12.3% and Rice University’s acceptance rate of 19%. The median SAT score is around 2220 and the median ACT score is around 30. Even harder to get into is the prestigious Program in Liberal Medical Education or PLME, which is an eight year program that combines Brown undergraduate studies with Alpert Medical School. All of this comes at a hefty price tag of $54,370, but don’t let that stop you from applying! Brown Financial Aid awards an average of $36,815 and acceptance is need blind.
Brown University is also known for its diversity with 96% of the student body coming from out of state and 10% of the students coming internationally. Brown is also known as a leader in promoting diversity and innovativeness with the most recent president, Ruth J. Simmons being the first African American and second female president of any Ivy League university. All in all, Brown is a first-class school with a rich history and a bright future with unlimited possibilities.