- Class: Senior
- Major: Computer Science
- Gender: M
- High School:
- Transfer Student: N
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.
I am a double major in Computer Science and Economics. I went into Brandeis undeclared, but with a wide array of interests. I took a bunch of different courses freshman year, without a particular focus on a major or area of study. I highly recommend that everyone does this, because as human nature and statistics are bound to show you, most people end up changing their major at least once over the course of four years at school. Out of the 800 or so people in my graduating class, more than 400 people came in as pre-med. I think roughly half have changed their majors. (Speculation, I don't know for sure.) Double and triple majors, or multiple minors are commonplace at Brandeis. It is probably because so many of the students are dedicated to their own education, and the quality of the classes here. I decided on my Economics major early in my college career, and was still doing some 'freshman year dabbling' at the beginning of my sophomore year when I took a course in the Computer Science department. Having taken several courses in programming in high school, I had a pretty comfortable background in CoSi. The class I took is one of the 'intro' courses, but it is intense, both in workload and difficulty of material. I thought the professor was engaging, smart and he really taught the material well. The very personal nature of the CoSi department is probably what made me decide to stick with the major. The quality of the education I have received at Brandeis is top-notch, and after talking with students who are majoring in similar fields at other schools, I can say that Brandeis is right up there with the Ivies in terms of the resources it offers and the professors it staffs.
Our student body, I've found, has its own flavor. We aren't incredibly diverse, with at least 50% of the school being some kind of Jewish, and a strong draw for middle and upper-middle class white folks. But the administration has definitely taken notice at the mostly creamy complexion of our student body and has been actively trying to diversify over the past few years. (Reportedly, the class of 2011 is the first year to be less than 50% Jewish - though this might just be a rumor. And I don't know how easy this is to verify.) A majority of the student body is from the Boston, New York, New Jersey area, but we still have people from all over the country. We also get a good amount of international students, the top contributor being Paris. The administration also tries to get as many urban students as it can, with several scholarships and a transitional year program geared towards students who haven't had access to the best resources during secondary education. These students tend to become solid groups due to their constant interaction through scholarship and TYP events, but they are also well-integrated members of the student body and take part in clubs and social events with everyone else. Brandeis also has a 'mid-year' acceptance program where students are matriculated halfway through their freshman year. (Beginning of spring semester). It's slightly awkward when an entire dorm's-worth of freshmen appear after winter break. The mid-years have a separate orientation, a separate dorm and because they are a semester behind, usually take all of their introductory courses together. Breaking into/out of the mid-year social groups can be tricky. I have a bunch of friends who are mid-years, but I still haven't met a majority of the mid-years from my year just because they tend to stick together. It's nice to see new faces, though, and it means that new people are coming to Brandeis every semester. Brandeis' political scene is a mix of liberals, moderate liberals, and moderate conservatives. But really, what do you expect from a small liberal arts college in the Northeast?
The Best Things
Solid academics and great people.
The Worst Things
The campus is always under construction.