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Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What is Brown College?

Contrary to popular belief, Brown is not just a color or an Ivy League institution. Brown is one of the University of Virginia’s three residential colleges. Although we have no official objective, we focus on building a strong community of students, faculty fellows, and local residents, as well as a place where residents can be themselves.

What makes Brown so special?

Brown is a nationally-recognized, self-governed community that accepts first-years as well as upperclassmen. Though you have to fill out an extra application, you get to live with very active and caring people with tons of events going on all the time. Brown is especially diverse—there are plenty of art and drama students, engineers and computer scientists, and philosophers and politics majors—and Brown does its best to make sure you fit in. Though we’re a tight-knit community, we still provide an extremely accepting and intellectually stimulating atmosphere for people of all backgrounds.

Who lives in Brown?

“Brown is for the interested and interesting,” according to a past resident. We currently house about 280 residents of different years, majors, interests, and talents. Brown is open to all undergraduate students; incoming first-years as well as current first-, second-, and third-years can apply. We also have a few faculty fellows, graduate students, and associated professors who either live along with the students or within a stone’s throw away from the college.

What types of events and activities does Brown hold?

There is something always going on in Brown. Activities are hosted by students and faculty fellows and include, but are definitely not limited to, weekly movie showings from our Academic and Cultural Events co-chairship, games of Mafia, sword fighting with foam weapons, Free Food Fridays, open mic nights, monthly banquets, intramural sports, and other events hosted by specific portals (ranging from water gun fights to going to midnight premiers of movies, playing with legos to making giant gummy bears). Every semester, Brown hosts its own semiformal, usually in a rented out club on the Downtown Mall. Every Halloween, Brown also builds and staffs its own haunted house (Hauntings) for charity. Every May, Brown hosts a carnival for its residents with the likes of inflatable slides and cotton candy. On a normal night, you can always find someone or something going on in one of our two communal lounges, including watching movies, playing games, cooking, doing homework, or just hanging out. If you see any activities missing, Brown makes it extremely easy to host an event yourself. You can reserve any communal space online and send out notifications to all of Brown’s members for your event.

What is a "portal?"

Unlike any other dorm at the University of Virginia, Brown College is tower style, which means the dorm is split into vertical buildings, or towers. There are 12 different portals in Brown College, each of which has three to four floors, often including a basement level. The portals are Tucker, Smith, Mallet, Gildersleeve, Peters, Rogers, Holmes, McGuffey, Harrison, Davis, Long, and Venable. They’re separated into three different groups based on location: Anti-Quad (Peters, Holmes, Rogers, Tucker), Quad (Long, Smith, Davis, Mallet), and Gildergreen (Gildersleeve, McGuffey, Harrison, Venable).

What are the tunnels?

The tunnels are what we call the underground walkways that connect all the portals. They are the prime expressway for traversing Brown College, as well as a safe haven on a rainy day!

Are there lounges in Brown?

There are two large lounges in Brown, one on the ground floor of the Tucker portal and another on the ground floor of Smith, named Tucker Lounge and Smith Lounge respectively. Tucker includes two televisions – where students enjoy watching Netflix and connecting to YouTube from their laptops, among other things – and a kitchen. While Tucker is more popular for social and food events, Smith includes a piano, a television, and even free cafe nights. If you are looking to study, there are two smaller lounges – The Cave and the Rogers Reading Room – which tend to be quieter.

How can I get involved with the Brown community?

There are countless ways to get involved in Brown, whether you’re looking for opportunities big or small, academic or recreational. Each week, our Secretary sends an email to Brown residents with all the events for that week. Check out our events page. Additionally, we encourage all residents to apply for various positions on our student governance board, so you can help plan the events yourself!

Applying to Brown

When can I apply to live in Brown? When is the application due?

Incoming first-years and transfers apply in the early summer around May; upperclassmen apply in the late fall around November for the following academic year. The specific due dates can be found online or on a copy of the current application.

Is the application to Brown binding? If I get in, do I have to live there?

For upperclassmen, we strongly encourage all those who apply and get into Brown to accept their housing offer. However, you do not have to accept. For first-years, if you apply to Brown, make it your first choice housing option, and get in, you are assigned to live in the residential college. Please note that accepting a housing offer is a binding legal contract.

If I get in, do I need to apply again?

Once you get offered a spot in Brown and accept the residential college contract, you will have a guaranteed spot in Brown for the remainder of your undergraduate career at the University of Virginia. That being said, you can still move off-Grounds for a year, or study abroad for a semester or more. If you decide you want to return to Brown, you will still be guaranteed a room. However, if you are sent an offer to live in Brown and choose to decline it, you must reapply if you are later interested in living here.

How often does the application get updated?

Every spring, Brown creates a new application to be filled out by prospective residents. Before filling out an application for Brown, make sure it is the most up-to-date version of the application. Though we don’t want to restrict your creativity, we would like all the applicants to answer the same questions to standardize scoring.

Who writes the application?

The application is written one hundred percent by current and former residents of Brown College. Each spring, we ask our residents for potential questions. Current residents come together to determine which questions are the best. Those that make the cut get assembled as our application.

Why is the application so...eccentric?

With all due respect, we don’t care about your extracurricular activities or your GPA, and résumés are for jobs. When you apply to Brown, we want to know who you are without having had the chance to meet you. We feel that our application is an ideal way to express yourself and display your personality. We hope that this format lets you show us why you are “interested and interesting.”

What are you looking for in the Brown application? How can I give my best answers?

There is no single "ideal" type for Brown. Our app questions usually include multiple options, from which you can pick the one that works best for you. There are no requirements for the length of your answers, so use as much space as you think you need. Small-paragraph answers can be fantastic if they’re thoughtful or clever; two-page answers can be a drag if they’re written carelessly. Ultimately, have fun with the process and aim to show us your personality, as well as your care for our community.

How are applications scored?

Brown applications are reviewed solely by past and current residents of the college. Individuals independently read and score each application on a scale from 1 to 5. Later, the readers assimilate into groups to decide on a group consensus score. Applications are ranked in order of final score with the average score given to it by individuals used as a tiebreaker. When reading the applications, grades given are solely based on two questions: 1) Do we want to live with this person? and 2) Would this person be involved in the Brown community? Remember, this is your chance to have fun and show off your personality, not to fill out another boring college application. Try to stand out in the crowd of applicants, but most importantly, be yourself!

How many people does Brown let in?

We wish we could accept everyone who had a quality application for Brown, but sadly, we do not have enough rooms to do so. Ultimately, Housing determines the number of room offers it can give to Brown. Typically, 20-25 spots are available for first-year males. The same number goes for first-year females. Only a handful (two to four) of spots are available for transfer students for each gender. For upperclassmen, usually 25-30 spots are open for each gender.

Rooms in Brown

What is the basic room set-up for Brown?

Brown is made up of 12 buildings, or portals. Each building has a stairway with three floors. Brown is sex segregated by floor; males always live on the first floor, females always live on the third floor, and the residents of the second floor depend on the portal.

Each floor of a portal has four numbered rooms. Think of each numbered room as a suite. Each "suite" has two rooms for two students (you and your roommate) and is either connected to one or three other suites via a shared bathroom.

For First Years attending Brown College during the 2018-2019 Academic Year, most First Year Suites are composed of a single bedroom outer room, with a bunked double bedroom inner room. 

What are the dimensions and furnishings for a room in Brown?

Information about the size of rooms and furnishings in Brown can be found here.

Are bathrooms communal in Brown?

Rooms in Brown are connected to a shared bathroom. The bathroom is not public and can only be accessed through the rooms of those sharing it. Bathrooms are usually shared between two or four rooms (four or eight people). If you are a first-year or newcomer to Brown, chances are you will be sharing a bathroom with more than four people. A four-person bathroom will have one stall, two sinks, and a shower. An eight-person bathroom will have two stalls, four sinks, and a shower.

Are students responsible for cleaning their rooms and bathrooms?

Yes, residents are responsible for cleaning their own rooms and bathrooms. This also means that you are responsible for providing your own toilet paper, soap, and other essential bathroom items as well as emptying out your trash. However, if there is a maintenance or repair problem in either your room or bathroom, you can fill out a work order with Housing to have your issue resolved for no charge.

Does Brown have air-conditioning and heating?

Yes, all of Brown is fully air-conditioned and heated.