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More than 80% of Brown students report that they are generally happy

Tom Friedman Circle Dance
Photo: “Tom Friedman Circle Dance” by Inning Club, licensed under CC 2.0

By Ethan Minkoff

“Yes, I’m very happy,” one first-year responded to BOP’s October poll. “At Brown so far I’ve had wonderful experiences.”

Brown has garnered the nickname “The Happy Ivy” among the Ivy League schools, likely due to its lack of requirements, emphasis on collaboration instead of competition, and the general warmness of its community. The Brown Opinion Project decided to put this assumption to the test in its October 2022 poll, asking its respondents a simple question: “Are you generally happy?”

The poll’s findings affirmed this assumption. 80.75% of Brown undergraduate students surveyed responded that they were at least “somewhat happy,” with roughly one-quarter (25.16%) of respondents even reporting that they were “very happy.”

One first-year who took the poll remarked that while their mood can change, it generally falls “in the happy to somewhat happy [range].”

“I am fortunate enough that I would say, ‘yes, I’m very happy,’” another first-year added. “At Brown so far I’ve had wonderful experiences.”

Less than 10% (9.65%) of Brown undergraduates reported that they were unhappy, and 9.1% said that they were “neither happy nor unhappy.”

“Happy is a strong word … I feel like [I have] been too busy to actually think about it,” one member of the class of 2026 commented.

According to BOP, the class of 2026 and the class of 2024 were the happiest of the grades at Brown, with a substantial 82% of each class indicating that they were happy. 80% of the class of 2025 self-reported as happy, and seniors came in close behind them with a 79% happiness rate.

A somewhat unhappy senior noted that this year has “been an adjustment” for much of their class, which may explain the lower percentage for the class of 2023.

Concentration area seemed to have little correlation with student happiness. 85% of Brown undergraduates concentrating in the social sciences responded that they were happy, as well as 83% of those in the arts and humanities. Additionally, 81% of life sciences and physical science concentrators also indicated that they were happy.

A first-year student hypothesized that because “a [high] level of Brown students get to choose their own courses,” concentrators in different fields would exhibit similar levels of happiness.

“I think that students are encouraged to collaborate, and students want to help each other in general, which I think contributes to Brown being ‘The Happy Ivy,’” one sophomore noted.

In a sense, Brown being “The Happy Ivy” is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Some of the undergraduates who took the poll admitted to knowing about its reputation before applying to the school, and commented that they strive to make Brown a happier place themselves.

"Before I applied to Brown I heard that Brown is one of the happiest colleges in the United States,” one sophomore remarked.

Another sophomore put it best: “The homies help the homies."

Note: All quoted poll-takers remain anonymous to maintain the integrity of Brown Opinion Project surveys. Brown Opinion Project conducted its October 2022 poll from October 11-23, collecting 1091 total responses from Brown undergraduate students. The margin of error is 3.02% with 95% confidence.


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