- Class: Sophomore
- Major: Other
- Gender: M
- High School: Algonquin Regional High School
- Transfer Student: N
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.
When it comes down to Academics, Brandeis is also like many other schools in that it depends on what field one studies. In Brandeis as in most other colleges, science and math majors are the ones constantly complaining about how much work they have to do. Social science and other liberal arts majors have a lot more time to do whatever they please. However, this may cost them later in life. Classes vary greatly depending on the subject. All the professors are extremely knowledgeable, though certain ones don't teach quite as well as others. They also tend to get to know you and talk to you if you either have a small class or you attract their attention. Otherwise, if you schedule a meeting or go to office hours with them, they likely will know who you are soon enough. My own experience with professors has been extremely positive. The students, of course, are the other extremely important part of the learning process here. Like in other good schools, there are many hardworking students who study and participate a lot. The libraries have many students just about every day of the week, and during midterms and finals there is nearly no space there. Most classes have anywhere from one to five students who constantly ask to be called upon to talk, whether their opinions are valid or not. However, there isn't much cutthroat competition here, and students are very nice to each other. Academic requirements are very loose for liberal arts and social science majors, and getting an A isn't all that difficult. The same can't be said of the sciences and mathematics though. When it comes down to it, education at Brandeis is what you make of it. Many students are here clearly so that they can make a good career for themselves in fields such as economics, science, medicine, or law. Still there are plenty who come for the extracurriculars or the activism and take classes for fun or just to learn something new. This variety makes Brandeis a great academic center.
Culturally, Brandeis is actually quite a diverse place. There are many different ethnic groups besides Jews, and the student groups representing them are extremely active in promoting their cultures and providing entertainment as well as good food. Culture clubs represent just about every possible ethnic group and have quite large followings. It would be very hard for students to feel culturally out of place. Religiously, Brandeis is far more homogeneous. While the Brandeis Humanists have a sizable following and the Christian groups also exist, Judaism is no doubt the strongest religion on campus, even if it's believers are only a plurality. The number of kippahs and Stars of David can attest to this fact. However, this does not mean that there isn't absolute freedom of religion here as well. Judaism is strong here, but Gentiles aren't bothered by it at all. Geographically, the majority of students at Brandeis come from the Northeast. Residents of New England, New York, and New Jersey form the majority of people here. Even so, there are many Californians and other Westerners, as well as people from the Southeast. The international presence here is also noticeable, with rather large groups of students coming from France, China, Turkey, Israel, and many other countries around the world. Regardless, students from various places mix very well. Financially, Brandeis has also a diverse mix. While I have friends who already own really nice cars and have no problem paying for school and other expenses, there are just as many who must pay their own way and have little extra spending money. Most students here come from middle class backgrounds, and must pay at least part of their tuition and spending. Politically, Brandeis is quite leftist. The few Republicans here and there tend to have their ideas shunned and ignored by the liberal majority. While radical hippies are also rare, the mainstream opinion makes groups like the Democrats and Democracy For America very strong. Activist groups are always enthusiastic, as almost all students have some sort of political opinions. One will never find the political environment at Brandeis to be lacking.
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