After four exciting years at Brown University, I’m now preparing to leave the place I called home. But I still remember my first day: moving in, anxiously awaiting the arrival of my roommate, and trying to figure out how to change the height of those pesky dorm beds. It’s funny now, but at the time it was pretty scary to be entering this new place full of so many people and so many opportunities. Where do you even begin?

To future Brown students out there, I want to share my advice on how to make the most of your first year, inside and outside the classroom.

This informational essay was written by Tyrah Green, Brown Class of ‘20. If you want to get help writing your Brown application essays from Admissions Experts, register with today.

Explore the local area

Brown students are very fortunate: they can use the RIPTA (Rhode Island Public Transit Authority) for free by swiping their student ID cards. Buses run within Providence and throughout the state of Rhode Island. While Brown has plenty of events and free food on any given day, it’s important to get off of the hill every once in a while! Especially during more stressful exam periods, a trip away from campus can leave you feeling refreshed and renewed.

Licensed under CC BY-SA by Kenneth C. Zirkel

Additionally, it’s rewarding to build a relationship with the larger community. Whether it’s your local burrito spot or your favorite walking trail, finding places that are special to you can be the key to making Brown, Providence, and Rhode Island feel like home. And to reiterate, it’s totally free!

If you’re looking to go even further, Boston and New York City are accessible by bus or train. It’s not uncommon for students to travel to attend concerts and other events, as tickets to these cities tend to be reasonably-priced. Remember – just because you go to Brown doesn’t mean you always have to stay there!

Take advantage of the open curriculum

One of the things Brown is most famous for is its open curriculum, and it’s for good reason. With no general education or distributional requirements, students have more space in their schedules to choose the courses that interest them most. It’s not uncommon to meet students studying a variety of subjects in a single semester, or even crafting their own concentration through independent studies. While I’m an Education Studies concentrator, some of my most memorable experiences have been outside of the department, like dancing at Ashamu Dance Studio and even learning Swedish. Having such diverse academic experiences has helped me to view my areas of interest with a fresh perspective. Plus, it never gets boring!

Todd L-M | Unsplash

It can be tempting to try to get concentration requirements out of the way as quickly as possible, but remember that you’ll have many semesters to knock them out. Take the time to sift through the course catalog, and ask for recommendations from peers on which classes you won’t want to miss! You’ll be sure to find a lot of gems.

And the best news of all? You have the ability to take any class Satisfactory/No Credit! Sometimes, it’s more productive to plunge into new subjects and disciplines rather than worry about getting a perfect grade.

Explore student groups

Brown has no shortage of student groups – over 400 – and ample opportunity to create your own. These are great places to meet people, delve more deeply into an interest, gain experience, or enrich your social life. Plus, it can be easier to meet people when you have a shared interest or activity to get conversations going. Just about every student group is eager to get new members, so don’t worry if you don’t have past experience.

If you’re interested in seeing what’s out there, consider joining relevant Facebook groups, email lists, GroupMes, etc. That is the one of the easiest ways to know when events or meetings are happening around campus.

Priscilla Du Preez | Unsplash

Consider participating in Brown traditions

One of my biggest regrets from my first year was not attending Brown’s legendary Spring Weekend. From the Naked Donut Run to Chicken Finger Fridays at the V-Dub, Brown’s traditions can help you feel connected to your new school. There’s no pressure to participate in absolutely everything, but if an event seems interesting to you, don’t be nervous to be a part of it. These traditions, big or small, help make for a uniquely Brown experience.

Be kind to yourself

College can be stressful, and it can be tempting to feel like you’re not doing enough. Truthfully, your time at Brown is about carving your own path, not checking items off of a list. You don’t have to be superhuman to accomplish your goals, and there is no point in comparing yourself to anyone else.

In my first semester, I dropped a class that many people told me was easy. It wasn’t easy for me, and I knew that the level of stress and pressure I was experiencing was not sustainable. Looking back, I don’t regret it at all, and wish I’d been gentler with myself at the times that I became overwhelmed. My story isn’t unique, either – most of my peers have similar stories about times that they felt that they didn’t deserve to be here or that they had failed.

Balance is essential for enjoying your college experience. It can be difficult to handle the variety of pressures and opportunities Brown presents. Set yourself up for success by surrounding yourself with people and activities that help promote balance. You can’t predict what the next four years will hold, but I promise you that it will all be okay in the end.

Brown, like any university, is full of opportunities. As you join over 1,700 peers for your first year, remember that this time is for you to make memories, and learn more about yourself and the world. Your education is yours to mold as you see fit – just don’t forget to have fun while doing it!

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This informational essay was written by Tyrah Green, Brown ‘20. If you want to get help writing your Brown application essays from Admissions advisors, register with today.