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| First, let me get something out of the way. |
Do not come to Brandeis if you define yourself as a "party person". Do not come to Brandeis if you want to spend more time drinking than studying. Do not come to Brandeis if your life revolves around college football. And for God's sake, do not come to Brandeis if you absolutely must be surrounded by frats. You will be miserable here.
Now for the actual review: Brandeis is a fantastic school. Even its detractors will admit that it has an excellent, rigorous (maybe too rigorous for some) academic program, and it excels in preparing students for graduate school. Its science and economics programs are top-notch, and can easily compete with those of Ivy League schools. If you want your college experience to be defined by actually getting an education, this is the place for you. The only fair criticism that can be directed against Brandeis' academic quality is that it can actually be too difficult, particularly in the life science fields. The bar is set very high at this school. You are expected to put in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears just to earn a B- in organic chemistry. Remember that.
Students are encouraged (and partially required!) to take a few classes outside of their major, and pretty much everyone ends up loving some random class that they took to fulfill one of their general requirements. I took classes in archaeology, French history, and Shakespeare, and I adored them all.
Most of the teachers here are top-notch, and there are plenty of opportunities to work with them in labs, research projects, etc. I would consider the vast majority of Brandeis professors to be laid-back, approachable, and eager to help students succeed. You will come across the occasional dud here and there--mostly the graduate students in lab sections or seminars--but they are the minority.
As for the school's social life, what can be said of it that hasn't already been said? Brandeis kids are awkward. It's the truth. Most have a small-ish group of friends and prefer hanging out in their rooms to attending massive parties. That's not to say that everyone is like that--there manages to be at least two or three geniuses who have to get their stomachs pumped at the local hospital every year--but the majority are pretty different from the popular kids in high school. Most people at Brandeis wouldn't consider that a bad thing, but I'm sure some prospective students might prefer a more sociable and, yes, attractive student body.
The other three big complaints you always see about Brandeis are that the food is awful, it's "too Jewish", and the campus is ugly. Let me go through those. I can't deny that one of the cafeterias (Sherman) is absolutely terrible, but the other one (Usdan) is just fine. It's standard college food. You're not going to starve to death for want of a decent meal at Brandeis. There are also smaller specialty shops (Quizno's, Einstein Bros. Bagels, a coffee house) that all serve good food, if you prefer. The campus is indeed pretty unsightly--not in an unkempt way, just in a clearly-built-in-the-60s way--but hey, no one comes to Waltham for gorgeous ivy-covered buildings. Fortunately, the school seems to be conscious of this and is trying to improve it. The recently-built science center and humanities center are both gorgeous, modern-looking, clean facilities with big (air conditioned!) rooms and comfortable seating. As for the Jewish thing, the school was founded by Jews and there are still a lot of Jews here. I don't know why that would be a problem, but if it is, this isn't the school for you. (It's your loss, really. This is probably the only place in North America that gets Shemini Atzeret off. I attended Brandeis for four years and still couldn't tell you what that means.)As a whole, Brandeis is a school that lives up to its promise, and its promise is to give you a superb education. It will prepare you for life after school, it will give you knowledge and experience in your chosen field, it will give you a safe place to live and a life-long group of friends. Not everyone belongs at Brandeis, but if you think that you might, you probably won't regret coming here.
|Oct 17 2012|| 4th Year Female --
Class 2011 |
| The day that I visited the school, a promotional video was being shot for the college on campus. I met the dean and a good portion of students, all of whom were extremely friendly and welcomed my dad and I to become a part of the video. While many complain about the social life, there is no denying that Brandeis has a very unique and welcoming student body. There is a strong sense of community not because Brandeis has an amazing sports or frat scene(because they don't), but because of the accepting and welcoming nature of the students. |
|Mar 24 2011|| 2nd Year Male --
Class 2013 |
| I am reviewing this school as a student who attended it for one semester of college before transferring out. It was my first semester of college ever and I was from South Florida so it was a very meaningful time for me, and though I sometimes wonder if that clouds my opinion of the school, I'd still have to say I have a positive opinion of it in retrospect.|
I transferred out because you aren't allowed to have a car in your first year and I had always dreamed of going to New York City for my undergraduate work... it killed me to be twenty minutes outside of Boston and never able to go in (the rail system absolutely sucks and the Bran Van only runs Thursday to Sunday). I also think I was trying to distance myself from some personal bad choices that had nothing to do with the school... but either way, I transferred, and when I did I was extraordinarily happy to "get the hell out." I really, really, really wish I had stayed now. Three schools later (long story), I've discovered that Brandeis is still what I consider my alma mater, and the best institution I've ever attended (including all of my schooling since kindergarten). I think it says something that I feel that way after only attending for four months.
People bitch about the social life and I guess if you're a "typical" college student, you'd be right about that. I'm basically married and a cat lady who plays World of Warcraft, so I was actually unhappy because I was placed in a dorm hall I thought was too loud (Brandeis took the twelve jocks who got in and put them on my floor, they had women over from other Boston schools who burst into the bathroom to throw up, drunk, while I was showering... the boys themselves then came in to make sure they were okay, and all the while I was in the shower). I do think the campus is pretty, though not breath-taking; the hill is a pain in the damn ass but you'll have great calves. Everyone also bitches about Sherman and granted, I only had to eat it for four months (and really not even that because I spent a lot of time off-campus at my boyfriend's house), but I loved the food, especially the brownies and ice cream that led me to the freshman fifteen. I'm a relatively timid person (and by relatively I mean very much so) and I met some amazing people who I'm still in contact with, and people actually know things and care about their intellectual endeavors, something I never encountered before Brandeis. All in all, the worst part (and the only part that is actually bad) is the town. Don't get me wrong, I love Waltham for a variety of reasons; it's cute and picturesque and beautiful and the birthplace of the man I'm probably going to marry (who followed me back down to Florida from his hometown when I decided to move back), but not having a car means you're stuck on Brandeis's campus, and if you're someone like me (not super involved with your peers, wanting to have stuff to do off-campus that's not school related), it's kind of a bummer. I need escape, I guess, and Boston is not at all as accessible as you'd think. However, I would encourage anyone considering Brandeis to GO and STAY FOR AT LEAST A YEAR. I think if I had given it another semester I would still be there and not be thinking fondly about the very very limited days I spent there, not be planning to attempt to go there for grad school, not be fantasizing about teaching there as a professor.
|Feb 09 2010|| 1st Year Female --
Class 2012 |