- Class: Sophomore
- Major: History
- Gender: F
- High School: Miami Killian Senior High School
- Transfer Student: N
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.
I love the education I'm getting at Brandeis. I can't speak for any science or math or theater or psychology classes- or really that much out of the spheres of history and politics, of which I am a double major, but the classes I've taken at Brandeis are amazing. My largest class to date has been The American Revolution last fall with David Hackett Fischer. It was a 150 person lecture with a weekly discussion with a TA, but Fischer is such an amazing professor that it really didn't matter that the lectures were large for Brandeis standards. Lectures with the most amazing and well loved professors and intro level lectures are probably all around that size or a little smaller. For the most part, classes are discussion based with 30-50 or so students as a large class. I'm currently in a class with only 2 other students. Professors are really good at having one on one relationships with students and class participation is expected in all but the largest lectures. When it comes down to crunch time, almost everyone studies, the library is open 24 hours during finals, but for the most part, Brandeis students both study and do work and have fun. Most people don't study all the time and most people don't completely slack off and do nothing. I think most people might skip readings, but pretty much everyone goes to classes and does the general work for a class. Another thing that's important about Brandeis academics is that we have no majors specially for certain jobs. There's a pre-med track, must most of the education at Brandeis is directed away from professional training. What professional or pre-professional stuff we do have typically take the form of minors. For example, we do not have a business major, only a business minor. The same is true for education and pre-law. The general Brandeis education, the requirements of the university, are for a well rounded liberal arts education. Everyone has to take certain types of classes- the freshman seminar, freshman writing, and a class with a non- western focus are probably the only real universal requirements. Everything else you can opt out of. We need 3 semesters of a language, but AP or SAT II grades or a placement test can get rid that requirement. AP scorces can also be used for the required humanities, science, social science and creative arts class each student needs and also for the quanative reasoning course everyone needs. If you do have to take a QR, it doesn't mean a math class, there are a handful of social sciences classes that for some reason or another count as a QR. We also have to take 2 PE classes or opt out with a fitness test, which is fine. Overall, because the requirements are really flexible, it's not too bad to have these requirements. And I do like the idea of learning outside of one's specific fields of interest. And it's crazy easy to double or even triple major. Most of the humanities and social science majors are really small in terms of course requirements. Outside of science and theater, it's really rare for someone to have just one major with no or only one minor.
Brandeis is incredibly open and caring about different groups be it in terms of ethnicity, race, religion or sexual orientation. I think ever minority group on campus has a vocal outlit for their opinion. What;s really great is often times these groups or other activist or social groups team up for join programing and mixers. Recently the Brandeis Black Student Organization and the Orthodox group under the Hillel umbrella held an event featuring kosher soul food. The students for environmental action and the LBGT group on campus also just hosted a campus wide, environmentally sustainable dance. I really have no idea what sort of student might feel out of place at Brandeis, because the great thing about Brandeis is everyone can make their own space. Clubs are a very important part of the community and all sorts of clubs hold open and educational events that expose other cultures to the general student body. Brandeis student are pretty laid back. This is not the sort of school where girls get all dressed up for classes- we're very much a jeans and hooded sweatshirt type of school. And pretty much everyone gets along. Brandeis is perceived to not have a diverse student body, but we do and the different groups interact all the time. While there is a sort of self segregation at Brandeis, is more about the type of clubs students are active in rather than their ethnicity or race. While we do have active ethnic clubs, other students find their place with an academic or theater group, so it's not ethnically or racially self segregated as much as other places can be. A large part of the student body is from the northeast- like the New York/New Jersey area and Massachusetts. But there are many of us, myself included, from further away. Someone at work told me last week that Brandeis currently has students from all the states except Mississippi, Alabama and Idaho, but that could always change next year. We also have a great international student population from Western Europe, China, India, Latin America, Israel and many other places. I love learning about other cultures from a lot of these students. Most Brandeis students come from an upper-middle class background- but I feel like that has a lot to do with the fact that we're a pretty expensive school and there are only so many scholarships that can be given. That said, 70% of students are on some sort of either need or merit based aid, and money's not often a topic people talk about. At least the people I know.
The Best Things
The people. Plain and simple
The Worst Things
Probably some bs with the administration that's always going on