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Brandeis, over the last two years, has become my home. It's seems sort of corny to say, but almost everyone here- from the staff to the students and professors- are so nice and open. And it's really easy to stay clear of the small minority of people here who aren't as friendly and welcoming because they are a really small minority. I honestly think that it's this warm and encouraging environment that makes Brandeis amazing. Since we're a pretty small student population- about 3100 undergrads, the sense of community felt here is pretty strong and the campus life benefits from the fact that we are small and most people live in some form of on campus housing for all 4 years. Of course, since this is honest and uncensored, there are some issues with Brandeis that can become huge since people here often snowball everything out of proportion. We've had issues during my time at Brandeis about racism jokes in a student publication, a controversial visit from former President Jimmy Carter about his book about Israel and student and professor issues with the administration over student money, professor reviews and arming the police. Brandeis students are incredibly vocal and passionate on a variety of issues and sometimes our passions butt heads with the feelings and politics of the administration, leading to a somewhat strained relation between the two camps. But the activism and passion of Brandeis students is part of what makes Brandeis... well Brandeis. In the 1960s we were known for student activism and that spirit continues to live on. When injustices happen both within and outside of the university, Brandeis students take a stand, leading to an environment of political and social discourse. While Brandeis is pretty political, we are also fairly artistic a well. The arts at Brandeis are amazing and with so many student performance groups including acapella, dance troops, improve groups, theater clubs and a sketch comedy group; there is always on campus, student performed entertainment throughout the week. Brandeis, location wise, has the best of both worlds as well. Waltham is a nice town and Moody Street is a great place to go with friends for ethnic food and Lizzy's Ice Cream, which rocks. We're also close to Boston so it's really easy to take a shuttle bus over the weekends or the commuter rail into Boston or Cambridge. In all honesty, what Brandeis has in political and artistic spirit is sort of lost on sports. If you want a school where everyone goes to games and sports make up a big part of campus life, Brandeis is not the place for you. We do have good Division III sports teams and we do have fans, known as "The Jury" who come out and cheer on the Brandeis Judges, but it's nothing like at other schools. Coming from a football orientated high school, I love that sports aren't the focus here, but it's a fair warning to note.
Brandeis, like a lot of other schools out there, I'm sure, is a make-your-own-experience school. If you're looking for someone to hold your hand every step of the way as you try to figure out your academic focus, your social life, your extracurriculars and your career ... you can actually probably find them here. But you'll have more success at Brandeis if you are independent and can figure things out on your own. If you have an interest that has even a minor following, there is probably a club for it at Brandeis. Don't like the way the club is run? Change it. Club doesn't exist? Make it. The school has the resources to fund some crazy clubs thanks to a percent of everyone's tuition (the Student Activities Fee) which goes towards student organizations and events. There is no dearth of majors here, and most people find after a year or two that they fit into one of them. But for those that don't, it is always possible to make your own. I know a couple of students who started a major about neuroscience and how it relates to music. Our relative proximity to Boston means there is always something to do, even if it's getting a little lame on campus. Although usually there is some kind of party happening at the Mods or in Ziv on the weekends, as well as a Student Events run shindig. I can only speak to my personal experiences, but I haven't ever experienced a void of activities on a night where I wanted to go out and do something fun. Brandeis is a small school. And you can tell. You tend to see a lot of familiar faces around, and there is a nice small-town kind of atmosphere where, even if you don't know everyone, you probably know someone who does. But even if you want to be anonymous, there is room to breathe. 2,000 students is still a lot of people. But just like it is possible to find exactly what you want at Brandeis, it is also possible that life here may just piss you off. There is always at least one Negative Nancy who is going to complain about their school no matter where they end up. I've heard a bunch of complaints about Brandeis, all of which I'm sure have been voiced about most other schools. I honestly believe that if you know what you want out of college, or have the energy and the willingness to try out new things, then you can get everything you want from Brandeis.
The best thing about Brandeis is that it provides you a high quality education for a price similar to other schools of its caliber in a nice convenient suburban setting. More or less everything you need is within your reach, as long as you know what you're looking for. As a rather small school, Brandeis is fairly reputable, especially within the Northeast. Although the first reaction from most people I talk to is "are you Jewish?" even though I am clearly not (I'm Asian), it's not very hard to laugh it off and say "no, that's Yeshiva you're thinking of." The campus isn't the nicest, especially since many of the buildings were built in the 1960s and 1970s and need some form of renewal. You'll likely find yourself spending most of your time in your room, although when the weather is nice you'll find that the outside is actually a good place to be. As for the town of Waltham where we're located, it is a decent college town that is neither too ghetto nor too wealthy. There are many good restaurants, though if you're looking for shopping or entertainment it would be best to go to Boston or Cambridge. Still, if you like neither urban nor rural settings, it is a good place to be. The Brandeis administration is more or less like that of any university. It does its job, although the more activist students here frequently find things to complain about. Overall, they are known to be decently reasonable, yet they know full well that they do have the real power. Despite all the stereotypes and such, there's really nothing all that unusual about Brandeis. Sure, we don't celebrate Christian holidays, and on Fridays many students dress up for shabbat dinner. Yet above all, it's a school, and one that many students are extremely proud of. Students often complain about the unattractiveness, the food, the housing, or the social activities, but overall people like and respect their school as well as their fellow students.
The people at Brandeis are amazing. There's a really strong sense of community, and it makes it very easy to call Brandeis home. People are very accepting, and it's rare to feel like an outsider. Everyone is welcome. The size is perfect. You can walk across campus and bump into dozens of people you know, but it's also big enough to find a few different niches and escape from the people you always see. Waltham sucks, but Boston and Cambridge are nearby and awesome. There isn't school pride in the traditional pep rally sense, but people are very aware of what it means to be from Brandeis, and students constantly talk about what it's like to be a Brandesian. I'm proud of my school, and I love having my friends from other schools visit. The campus is kind of ugly, but there is construction for lots of new buildings.
There are two things that resonate with me about Brandeis. First, wherever I go, I am guaranteed to run into people I know. Everywhere. I can take a different route to class and see people I haven't met before, but I will run into someone I know. I don't think that's because I'm the kind of person who has a lot of friends, it's that Brandeis students are interconnected with all disciplines. While I may venture into the science complex very rarely, I still have friends who are science people and I meet them wherever I go. The second big thing I like about Brandeis is that there are opportunities here that you can't get at the more historical schools. Since Brandeis is so new, there are countless ways to make a mark and start a tradition. This is an exciting place to be because change happens in a short period of time, and you can actually make a difference in your four years here. At more prestigiously older schools, like Harvard or Yale, the history and tradition is more deep-seated, so the room for change isn't as easy. While there are plenty of issues that aren't unique to Brandeis (inefficient student government, new practices implemented in administration, etc), the possibility to change those things is in your grasp. There is no perfect school, but at Brandeis, you can shape it into your perfect school.
Dan JuniorReviews provided by: Unigo