The Question: How Big is Brown?


Ever wanted to know the real story behind all those facts and stats about Brown? Welcome to The Question, a column by freshman Elena Saltzman, where I answer all your Questions from a real student’s perspective, and explain everything you need to know about life at Brown University! 

Hey prospective students! My name is Elena and I’m a first-year taking over the column, “The Question” this year. Each week I’ll answer one of the many burning questions I had about Brown when I was applying to college, which I’m sure you’re all desperately seeking the answers to as well! So without further ado, here is this week’s Question:

How big is Brown?

Short answer: 6,118 undergraduate students (courtesy of the Brown website, which is presumably more up to date than your college guidebook).

Long answer: Just big enough to always be meeting new people, and small enough that you see people you know everywhere you go! We like to call it the Goldilocks range. Other schools may boast small, close-knit student bodies, but Brown wins at having a big, close-knit student body. I’ll discuss more on this phenomenon below:

As my friend Sarah just pointed out to me, “Yeah, everyone’s weirdly connected here”. It’s totally common to be sitting in the Blue Room studying with friends from your hall, when someone from one of your classes comes over to say hi, and you discover that they already know half your friends! 6 degrees of separation becomes 1 or 2 degrees max at Brown.

I’ll admit that when I was first looking at Brown, having a grade of 1,500 peers seemed pretty overwhelming, especially since I came from a small high school. But now that I’m here, it doesn’t feel nearly that big! Within 24 hours of being here, I had already started to see some of the same other freshmen at orientation events, and now I literally can’t walk to class without saying hi to at least three people.

Another great feature of Brown’s perfect size is that you do actually meet new awesome people every day, even while it seems small. One of my friends is a senior living off-campus this year, and didn’t even meet her housemates until the fall of her junior year! While I often just go to the V-dub and find a friend to sit with once I get there (because there really is always someone you know! No need to worry about this), I have in the past just sat with a random group of people and made new friends too. It’s these kinds of experiences that make me love going to a school of this size. At the same time, Brown’s also not so big that you only hang out with your small group of friends and never branch out because you’d get lost in the crowd, as can happen at larger universities.

So the verdict: Brown is as big as you want it to be. If you’re the kind of person that likes to have a small group of close friends, Brown is the place for you! If you like to have lots of acquaintances and friends all over the place, Brown is also the place for you! If you want both of these things, then guess what: Brown is definitely the place for you too. 🙂

Have a question you think should be the next Question? Or an answer to past Questions you want to share? Email Questions/comments/Brown-related hilarity to!


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