The Question: What Do These Statistics Actually Mean?


Questions, of course, are what make life interesting.  The Question will give you weekly responses to any and every possible question there is about Brown!  With The Answer coming from freshman Emma Harris, be prepared to feel like you know Brunonia inside and out!

As prospective students, you’re all probably bombarded with schools’ statistics.  School A has 12,947 undergrads, School B has a meal plan with 300 points and 300 meal credits, School C has elevators in all of the dorms… The list goes on and on for every single one.  So this week, I ran to the campus center and grabbed one of the “Brown by the Numbers” pamphlets.  I’ve taken five statistics printed in the nice little handout, and I’m going to explain what they mean from a student’s perspective.  Hopefully this will make Brown seem a little warmer than the cold, hard numbers!

4 is Brown’s rank in Newsweek’s survey of the nation’s happiest college students in 2012

Let’s start with the most important: Brown students are happy!  You’ll hear it from whomever you talk to – regardless of the cold, the midterms, the you-name-it, we are a group of joyful people.  Not to say that we don’t have bad days, because we all certainly do, but what I mean by this is people at Brown looooove being at Brown.  Alums will say it, professors will say it, and, of course, students will say it.  Brown is filled with passionate people who work together to achieve their goals.  We spend our time exploring things we find fascinating, having interesting conversations with interesting people, and relaxing with our friends.  How could we not be happy?

250 square feet of lab space-per-undergraduate

This means that not only will you be learning in lecture classes, where you sit and listen to a professor speak, but you’ll also be doing your own experiments to actually use what you learn.  Brown has beautiful lab space, which is of course accessible to the undergrads!  The larger classes like first-year chemistry and biology will have both a lecture and a lab, in which you break into small groups to do your experiments.

However, this is not the only time you can be doing your own work outside of a lecture situation.  Brown has lots of research opportunities for students, especially undergrads!  All it takes is finding a professor who is either doing something you’d like to be a part of or finding a professor who will help you do research of your own.  So many students will simply email professors whose specialties are something they’re interested in, then start working with them almost immediately.  Also – this is not only for the sciences.  Lots of humanities professors do research that undergrads can get involved with, too.

$9.90 – the average hourly wage for students who work on campus at Brown

Believe it or not, college kids can make money while at school.  From working for dining services to being group tutors, there are tons of job opportunities for students on campus that are completely doable in addition to schoolwork.  Plus, the University’s minimum wage is higher than Rhode Island’s minimum wage – Brown values its workers!

Undergraduate courses taught by Brown faculty: 98.2%; Brown faculty who teach undergraduates: 100%

What this most importantly translates to is that every professor you have at Brown is teaching you because they want to.  Scholars apply to work at Brown because they know they will have to both teach and research.  They love the students here just as much as we love them!  And the few (very few) classes that are taught by graduate student or PhD candidate TAs are of the same standard as those taught by professors; these TAs are doing their own research and just as resourceful as professors are.

Undergraduate class sizes: 70% 2-19 students; 17% 20-39 students9% 40-99 students4% over 100 students

Most classes are small classes.  You can get that straight from the fact-book.  I included this statistic because while it is pretty plain and simple, it really does mean a lot.  Something this doesn’t say quite so blatantly is that you won’t spend your whole freshman year in huge lecture classes – because of the open curriculum, students at Brown have access to small, specialized seminars from day one.  In addition to seminars open to all students, there are also First-Year seminars and Second-Year seminars that are open only to members of those respective years.

The large classes at Brown are all required to have TAs who break into smaller weekly recitation sections.  Students here won’t get lost in huge lecture classes, but the large classes are of course an option for those who like this size of class more.  At Brown, students really have the flexibility to make their studies the exact way they want them to be – if there isn’t a class you like, you can make one; if you can’t sit through long classes, there are short ones; I even know someone who found a professor they loved but couldn’t take his class due to a direct conflict, so the professor took time out of his own schedule to teach a section just for this one individual.

Before coming to college, a great friend and mentor of mine told me that I should make sure every one of my professors knows my name.  Since coming to Brown, I’ve realized it’s not that hard to do at all – regardless of the class size, I’ve been able to learn, and the professors are incredibly accessible.

Do you have any questions?  Comments?  Concerns?  Possibly The Question for next week?  Shoot me an email at for answers!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s