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Ocean State students dock at College Hill

Most admitted R.I. residents come from Providence, Barrington, influenced by town-gown relationship

By
Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

While some high school students dream of going to college far away from home, others set their sights on a more proximate goal. Four-hundred fifty-seven Rhode Island students applied to the undergraduate Class of 2022 this year, according to Dean of Admission Logan Powell.

It is unclear whether the Office of College Admision has an official policy that favors local students. The University “does not report specifics on the number of students who were admitted” to the class of 2022 from Rhode Island, wrote Director of Admission for Special Programs Ana Saul-Sykes in an email to The Herald.

“We want to have a healthy representation of local students on our campus; they have a valuable perspective to add, and we invest time and energy to recruit those students during the fall and spring,” Saul-Sykes wrote.

The University fosters close relationships with high schools throughout Rhode Island by doing school visits, participating in forums and hosting counselor breakfasts, Saul-Sykes wrote. The University also provides $50,000 per year in college scholarship funds to Providence public school students, who may use the grants to attend any two- or four-year college.

Most admitted students come from Providence, Barrington and South County, Saul-Sykes wrote. Classical High School in Providence alone sent seven students to Brown in 2017 and 13 in 2016, said Louis Toro, guidance director at Classical High School.

Rhode Island students may choose to study locally because of the University’s state-wide reputation, Saul-Sykes added.

“I first decided to apply (to the University) because it was a great school that I had heard a lot about growing up,” said Olivia Bowen ’20, who came to Brown from Barrington High School.

For other R.I. students, their decisions to apply and chances of acceptance could be influenced by familial connections to the University, Bowen added. “There are a lot of local students who are connected to the University because of sheer proximity: legacies, the children of faculty and professors,” she said. “In high school, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to compete against kids with those advantages.”

Toro believes that the University should prioritize R.I. residents in its admissions process. “There has to be some type of commitment for the city of Providence’s kids in light of all the real estate Brown is chewing up without paying taxes,” he said.

Private colleges and universities own approximately 12 percent of the assessed value of property in Providence. The University is one of the city’s biggest tax-exempt non-profits — a point of contention between the institution and state government officials, reported The Wall Street Journal. In 2012, a GoLocalProv investigation found that the University avoided more than $4 million in property taxes by expanding its tax-exemption to buildings not exclusively used for academic purposes.

But the University has also provided the city with sizable financial contributions. In 2017, the University paid over $6.7 million to the city in voluntary payments. It also pays $2.3 million in city and state fees, which go toward services like sewer water treatment.

“Much can be accomplished by working in a mutually cooperative, collaborative way to successfully advance economic development and the prosperity of the city of Providence and state of Rhode Island,” according to a University webpage.

Brown has had a profound impact on Bowen, as both a student and an R.I. native, she said.

“Brown’s policies … affect not only my undergraduate education for the next few years, but also my home and community for the foreseeable future,” she added.