February 21, 2009


The snow got worse and worse as we drove east. I hate driving in snow and called Jonathan, in a panic, as though there was anything he could do about it. The highway traffic was reduced to one lane traveling at about 30 miles per hour as we headed towards Providence. The visability was terrible for me when we were between towns and there were no street lamps. But, we made it to Pawtucket safely, and happily there was a restaurant, a Ground Round, attached to our hotel. We ate and then checked in and went to bed. The next morning, we were at Brown by 9am for a tour which left from the admissions office. We had planned to take a taxi to Brown because we were warned that parking is limited. But at the last moment, I decided that I wanted to risk parking because if we got backed up, which we did, it would be stressful to find a taxi to get back to the hotel to get the car. As it was, parking is allowed for three hours on the street and there were plenty of spaces that early in the morning.

On our tour, there were many guides to select from-they each introduced themselves and described a bit about their interests. We selected two women, Samantha and Beatrice, and were very happy with their tour. Brown is beautiful! It's big and spread out, but the campus is interesting and, to me, the most attractive of all that we have seen. Samantha and Beatrice were experienced and organized. Their tour included historical information and funny stories. After the tour, we attended an information session in a big chapel-like space. Again, the information session was led by a senior and a sophomore, and both were clear, helpful and informative. The big idea about curriculum at Brown is the lack of distribution requirements. Students can study what they like and what interests them, thereby elevating the dynamics and learning in each class. Elsa ran into a Rocket teammate, Adrienne, at the information session. Adrienne and her mom had been touring this week as well, but they had visited Harvard, Yale and Tufts!

I have to say that I love Brown. I love the city of Providence, the campus, the students we met and even the admissions officer who spoke to us. But, there was also this pervasive feeling that Brown is so inundated with applicants, that they don't seem to take too much interest in visitors and prospective students. For example, there are no cards to sign in at admissions and this is the only school that we sawthat does not do this. Neither Elsa nor I felt welcome at the school. It's so funny, it's just a feeling, but we both experienced it.

After the information session, we walked back to the car and then drove to the athletic center, which we had not been shown on our tour because it's so far from campus. Honestly, Brown's athletic center is not nearly as impressive as most of the others we have seen. It's really old, and lacks charm. We found the women's soccer coach's office and a secretary asked if he was expecting us. I apologetically said 'no' as we had never heard back from any Brown coach at all despite numerous inquiries about their soccer program and camps. The head coach wasn't there, but we were seen by the assistant coach, Dennis. Dennis is a grandpa, and told us that he has worked at Brown for 13 years. He asked Elsa a few questions, but repeatedly asked her if she had questions for him. He did a good job of making her feel unprepared because she didn't have a list of questions written out. I had the feeling that Dennis didn't really know what to say to us, so he kept throwing the ball back onto our court, if you know what I mean. He walked us around the dingy old building and showed us the gyms and the training rooms. He took us to the pool and to the roof, where the lacrosse team has a turf field. He showed us the women's playing fields and the practice fields. Then he walked us all the way back to campus to show us the dorms Brown uses for their overnight soccer camp, which we were planning to have Elsa attend this summer. Dennis felt compelled to repeatedly mention that we were not expected. Finally Elsa looked at the sent emails from her phone and produced the date she had emailed to the head coach, Phil. Since Phil was in Arizona looking at a player, he didn't forward her email to Dennis, as he usually does, and then Phil's mailbox filled up. Mystery solved. Score one for Elsa!

Overall, we didn't feel any more welcomed by Brown's soccer program than we did by admissions. Elsa has had her heart set on reaching for Brown since her summer camp counselor at Hidden Valley encouraged her to apply. Amy loved Brown. But, Elsa is actually considering scratching it from her list. I would like to keep it on, just because I think it's a great school, and that if she were accepted, she would feel differently. It would be a nice feather in her cap. But she says that she's quite sure she wouldn't be able to play soccer for the Brown team, and if she were lucky, she'd be warming the bench. Harry, Elsa's coach, agrees that Brown is tough. Two of his best players were told at camp that they weren't good enough to play for Brown. Oh well. We'll move on...

Elsa's rating: 7. My rating: 8.

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