The College

For First-Year Students

Your Meiklejohn understands that you are new to Brown, and that you might or you might not know which courses you want to take over your four years at Brown. Whatever your thoughts on your academic trajectory, your Meiklejohn is ready to help.

Your first year at Brown is a time for exploration. Your Meiklejohn will help you consider academic areas and social activities you never thought of and help you build on your strengths. They are available to provide guidance and advice as you explore Brown’s Open Curriculum.As a near peer for your first year, your Meiklejohn will listen and discuss, while backing some decisions and challenging others. Your Meiklejohn will always respect your autonomy, though they may help you to recognize possible pitfalls, a range of possibilities, and necessary referrals.

It’s Not All About Classes

Every piece of Brown is interrelated; our inclusive advising structures provide a framework for your advisors to connect your academic advising with who you are as a person outside of the classroom.In addition to giving you advice on course selection, your Meik's advising might extend to topics like:

  • Building relationships with professors and deans
  • Helping you navigate academic resources like office hours and tutoring services
  • Engaging in co-curricular experiences on campus
  • Planning your academic path
  • Exploring extracurricular opportunities
  • Utilizing Brown's non-academic resources

Your Meiklejohn may not be able to help you with every problem you encounter at Brown, but they will know who can help you. Meiklejohns are experts on finding resources on campus and are eager to help in any way they can.

A Year-long Relationship

Don't forget that your first year is exactly that--a year. Your Meiklejohn knows this, and will be with you for your entire first year at Brown. Your questions might change as you acclimate to Brown's campus and curricular culture, and your Meiklejohn will be right there alongside you. Don't forget about them; they won't forget about you.

First Readings

First Readings is Brown's summer reading project for all new students. Launched in 2007, the program provides a common reading experience that invites new students to critically reflect on place and purpose at Brown through primary texts.

For the fourth consecutive year, the First Reading selection is the Report of the Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice. Originally published in 2006, with a digital update published in 2021, this report examines the University’s relationship to slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, and asks direct questions about how communities and institutions can address and repair injustice. This report was first nominated as the First Readings selection for new students entering in the Fall of 2020 by two dozen students, and selected in March 2020 by the committee before the tragic deaths of George Floyd and countless others brought renewed attention to the continuing legacy of anti-Black violence in the United States. 

As a community of students and scholars, it is our obligation — particularly those who have not shared these experiences — to seek out learning and share knowledge. The painful truth is that the narratives most commonly shared about our nation’s history often overlook the pervasive, persistent, and insidious nature of slavery and racial injustice. We hope that you are able to reflect on these histories in a small group of your peers in faculty- and staff-led seminars during orientation.

Students receive their first reading over the summer and write letters to their advisors on an aspect of it that they find particularly compelling, difficult, or curious. In this way, they begin a dialogue with their first-year advisors about their academic interests and their expectations for life at Brown. During Orientation, students meet in small groups for seminar discussions led by faculty and upper-level administrators. Special events, including author visits, exhibits, and lectures, extend first readings discussions well into the fall term.

More About First Readings