Second Time Around: Wait, What’s a Concentration?


What is life really like as a transfer? Join me as I figure out the answer to this question! My name is Rachel Gross and this is my Second Time Around.

Before I begin my article, I have something I would like to say to whomever finds their way to my corner of the internet…. Happy 2017 everyone!! Welcome to a new year in which we all must work to empower, spread love and acceptance, and feel great walking down the halls of a brand new semester. With that aside, let us talk about another facet of the transfer journey you may come to face.

I am taking the time to presume that at your previous school/university/institution, you were familiar with something known as a major. This was your particular field, your particular area of study (aka something you hope to involve yourself in for the rest of your career life). All students had a particular major which they may have spoken to a counselor about or stated for transcript purposes. Sound familiar? I know because that was myself around a year ago. Snap forward to Brown where everything is going to be an assimilation and a time of change, of adventure and of knowledge, of questions and of challenges. Who knew that even the act of stating your major was going to transform itself into a new experience in these bear-filled corridors.

The time is orientation. The people are transfer counselors. The question is “what’s your major?” The response is “my concentration is on (insert answer here).” My response “excuse me? whatcha concentrating on?”

Brown University: an amazing school inundated with students who concentrate on things. Please do let me explain.

Through helpful counselors, an in-depth website, and students willing to share experiences, Brown University students will decide on a concentration in their sophomore year. Concentrations are very similar to what many of us, myself included, call majors. As a student here, you can tell people you are concentrating in x, y, z. People will not look at you too weirdly if you mention you are majoring in something, and this habit dies quickly. They are areas of study which students choose as a result of their passions, knowledge, and goals. Some concentrations offered at Brown are Gender and Sexuality, Computer Science, Applied Mathematics, and History of Art and Architecture. Whatever you may find interest in, believe me when I say Brown offers a concentration in just that. PS if there is not a particular concentration you hope to study, look into an independent concentration in order to create your own path! Students are also free to double concentrate in different areas if you find yourself split between the fields you have a passion for in life. Yet if double concentrating is not quite what you are into to, students find themselves concentrating in one area yet taking various courses for other studies in their free course slots. Each concentration contains its own particular requirements in order for the student to conclude their studies in that field. Requirements vary for every concentration and some come with more flexibility than others. I highly recommend googling the website “Brown University Focal Point.” This provides students with detailed information on every concentration offered and resources to find even more resources. What am I concentrating in, you may ask? Take a guess!! English Literature? You got it! 

Transfer students enter campus with a particular date given to them to declare their concentration by in order to keep on track more quickly into the assimilation period. Depending on your transfer status, this process could be as quickly as declaring in a few short weeks or two months. However, deans and counselors are there to help in order for you to complete this process painlessly. Declaring itself can be an interesting hurdle to jump past. A student must state why he or she desires to concentrate in a particular study, what he or she attempts to focus on in the research portion of that study, and which classes they plan on (might be interested in) taking in order to meet concentration requirements. Declaring, though time consuming, is nothing to hold anxiety over. Another tip I recommend is setting up a meeting with transfer deans and concentration advisors in order to gain understanding and insightful information on what exactly it means to declare in a particular concentration. Remember, you are never alone in any step of the transfer process!

When the process is said and done, you can finally say “I am a Brown student concentrating in English Literature, or Philosophy, or Physics, or Modern Culture and Media.” And it feels amazing to be able to say this. Trust me.

Thank you so much for reading! Questions? Comments? Simple hello? Please feel free to email me at or leave a comment below.


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