Brown admits 10.8% in most selective year ever

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Months of nerves and anticipation will finally come to an end today for 22,645 regular decision applicants to the University, who can go online to view their decisions at 5 p.m. Eastern.

Dean of Admissions James Miller ’73 said this year’s applicant pool was the largest ever, representing a 21 percent increase from the previous year – the greatest reported rise in applications among Ivy League schools this year.

“It’s a very, very talented applicant pool … the most talented applicant pool I’ve ever seen,” Miller said.

Of the total 24,988 applicants – including both early and regular decision – 2,708 will be admitted. According to Miller, the Office of Admissions sent out acceptance letters to 10.8 percent of applicants, while 13.3 percent were admitted last year.

There could be several explanations for the this year’s application surge, Miller said. “One is that we have changed the way we recruit,” he said, adding that Brown now joins other institutions such as Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to give information sessions and lure prospective students.

“When we travel we get significant crowds of people,” he said.

The recent improvement in Brown’s financial aid program may also be a factor in making the schoolmore accessible, Miller added.

The board of admissions met every day and night for months, even on weekends and holidays in order to reach decisions, according to Miller.

“It was really quite an extraordinary commitment of time and effort,” he said. “We had to make some very hard choices, but it’s a nice position to be in.”

High school seniors know that competition is especially fierce this year.

“Since this is such a competitive year … everyone applied to at least one top-tier school,” said Claire Gianotti, a senior at Friends Academy in Locust Valley, N.Y. She said she is also anticipating responses from other high caliber schools such as Dartmouth and Princeton.

“It’s not a torturous time for us, but pretty anxiety-provoking,” said Temple Shipley, a student at the Dallas School for the Talented and Gifted.

D.J. Pain, a senior at Livingston High School in Livingston, N.J., said the halls of his school are filled with discussion on who got in where. “Especially if you’re in the higher (Advanced Placement) classes, college is a big topic,” he said.

While news spreads quickly on days when multiple universities release decisions, few students are visibly “freaking out” beforehand, said Molly Berenhaus, also a senior at Livingston, whose top choice is Brown. There are about 15 students in her class applying to each Ivy League school, she said.

“It’s hard to really think about it because no matter how you look at it, that doesn’t determine the decision you actually hear,” she said. Some students are “hush hush” about where they’ve applied to avoid attention in case they get rejected, she added.

According to Gianotti, fewer students from her school are getting into their top choice schools than in the past.

Toby Hollis, a senior at Piedmont High School in Piedmont, Calif., said applying to schools was “psychologically less straining” than waiting for the decisions. But “now I’m very nervous,” he said.

Despite their nerves, the seniors are ready to finally know their fates.

“I’m excited to know because I feel like I’ve been waiting two or three years to find out if I was going to get in,” Gianotti said

According to Shipley, the question of what schools she will get into has “been on my mind since my freshan year of high school.”

“It’s been essential for conversations at the dinner table and a lot of conversations at the lunch table with my friends,” Shipley said, adding that “there’s almost too much emphasis placed on getting into college.”

Shipley said Brown is her top choice because it has well-rounded, intelligent students as well as a “less intense environment” that is “equally as rigorous.”

Miller said the most important piece of advice he can give to students counting down the minutes is that “they should all be very proud of what they accomplished, and they should all take pride in their successes.”