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University News

U. accepts second-lowest percentage of applicants ever

Students of color comprise 45 percent of admitted students in the class of 2017

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, April 1, 2013

Class of 2017 admitted students are from all 50 states, with California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Texas being the most represented states. This is consistent with last year’s admitted pool.

The University admitted 9.2 percent of applicants to the class of 2017, the second-lowest acceptance rate in Brown’s history.

A total of 2,649 out of 28,919 applicants received acceptance letters to the University’s 250th incoming class, according to a University press release.

This year’s acceptance rate is lower than that of every previous year except for the 2011 admission cycle, when the Admission Office accepted 8.7 percent of applicants to the class of 2015. About 9.6 percent of applicants were admitted last year to the class of 2016, when 28,742 students applied.

“The admitted class as a whole is just spectacular,” said Provost Mark Schlissel P’15. “Not only are they great students, but they are very engaged. They want to make a difference in the world.”

Students who applied in this year’s regular decision process received their decisions online March 28 at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The Admission Office had already accepted 558 students in the early decision process in December, The Herald previously reported.

Forty-five percent of admitted students in the class of 2017 identify as students of color, and 17.5 percent are first-generation college students, both record-high numbers. Of the admitted students, approximately 12 percent identify as black, 14 percent identify as Latino, 18 percent identify as Asian and 2 percent identify as Native American, wrote Jim Miller ’73, dean of admission, in an email to The Herald.

Approximately two-thirds of the admitted class expressed intent to apply for financial aid, about the same percentage as in previous years.

All other Ivy League universities released regular decision admission results March 28. Six of the eight Ivies — Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale — had record-low acceptance rates this year, while Dartmouth was the only Ivy to have a higher acceptance rate than last year.

Columbia admitted 6.89 percent of applicants this year, Cornell admitted 15.2 percent and Harvard accepted 5.8 percent. Penn admitted 12.1 percent of applicants, Princeton accepted 7.29 percent and Yale accepted 6.72 percent. Dartmouth admitted 10.05 percent of applicants.

These numbers are consistent with last year’s figures and only differ “by a few tenths of percentage points,” said Michele Hernandez, a college consultant and former assistant director of admissions officer at Dartmouth. She added that Dartmouth is aiming to increase its class size, which could account for the school’s uptick in percentage of applicants accepted.

Students from all 50 states were admitted to Brown, with the most represented states being California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Texas, respectively. Accepted students hail from 83 nations, three more countries than last year’s admitted pool.

China once again had the most accepted applicants from a foreign country. Canada, India, South Korea and the United Kingdom rounded out the top five foreign nations with the most admitted applicants. Fifteen percent of the admitted students are from schools outside the United States, which includes Americans living abroad.

The University received a record number of applications from India this year, The Herald previously reported.

Joon Kee Park, a student at Asia Pacific International School in Seoul, received his admission decision early in the morning Friday and was “ecstatic” when he realized he was accepted, he wrote in an email to The Herald. Park added that, coming from a high school with a “rigid curriculum,” Brown’s lack of core requirements attracted him to apply.

Of the admitted students, 58 percent indicated they intend to concentrate in either the physical or life sciences, according to the University press release. Over 25 percent intend to concentrate in the social sciences, while 12 percent look to concentrate in the humanities and 3 percent are undecided. Engineering, biology, computer science, international relations and economics accounted for the top five most popular intended concentrations, according to the press release.

These results are mostly unchanged from last year’s concentration statistics, except that computer science overtook English as a top five concentration.

Increased interest in computer science could stem from factors like promising job prospects in the field, the growing availability of computer science classes in high schools and the increased awareness of technology in students’ daily lives, Miller said. “Brown’s experience with increasing numbers of (computer science) candidates seems to mirror that of peer schools.”

Mac Woodburn, an accepted applicant from a rural high school in McConnelsville, Ohio and a prospective first-generation college student said he has never known anyone who has been accepted to Brown and was “amazed” when he got in.

“There are two majors I really want to pursue — cognitive neuroscience and astrophysics,” he said. “With the Open Curriculum, I think Brown will allow me to do that.”

The University anticipates 1,515 members will join the class of 2017 for a predicted yield of 57 percent. Admitted students must decide whether to accept their offers of admission by May 1.


 An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Mac Woodburn is from Stockport, Ohio. In fact, he is from McConnelsville, Ohio. 


Last updated April 1 at 1:09 a.m.


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  1. Christina Paxson says:

    Suck it, non-rich international students!

      • If I’m interpreting Christina Paxson correctly, she’s referring to her position against universal need-blind admissions. Christina Paxson wants to continue accepting international students based on how wealthy their families are.

        • and wouldn’t going universal need-blind mean less aid for american students unless more donations for aid came in? I have no problem with a foreign need-aware admissions policy as long as the money is limited.

          • Okay, this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I have to agree. You have no idea how hard it can be for middle-class students to pay for this place, especially if we’re in the bracket where we make too much to qualify for aid, but not enough for the money not to matter. My parents have made HUGE sacrifices for me to be here, and I’ve worked three jobs each semester to help pay for my education.

            Much of my family lives in the UK, and they are going to some of the top universities in England and Europe for a fraction of what I have to pay. And that’s without aid or grants; school costs are just much lower over there. There are many countries that have excellent university systems where students can attend for low costs or free. In the US, university is almost always incredibly expensive, and when we apply abroad, we’re often asked to pay higher fees as we are coming from the States.

            I think the university should continue to admit internationals, and it would be great if they were need-blind, but the point remains that middle-class Americans do not have the chance to attend top universities unless they are willing to pay exorbitant amounts of money that will adversely affect their families’ financial circumstances, unless more money is routed towards domestic financial aid.

    • I’m an admitted international student to the class of 2017, and Brown met 100% demonstrated need, which is more than I could ever ask for. My family’s annual income hovers around 15,000 US Dollars, so you can imagine how much that means. It is because of this generous policy that I stand today in a position to attend Brown, which is something that promises to change the future both for me and my family. In all respects, my family and I stand indebted for life.

      With that in mind, please take the opportunity to be better informed the next time around.

      • The Real Christina Paxson says:

        First off sorry to those who’d like to know what this is about; apparently we’re censoring comments now?

        Secondly: that’s excellent. That’s really, really terrific for you. Seriously, it is. But just try to think about this for a second: international admissions are NOT NEED BLIND. As in they are less likely to admit people like you than they are to admit people like you but richer. It’s great that you got it but there are qualified non-rich international kids who didn’t. It’s a bad policy with generally bad outcomes.

        With that in mind, please take the opportunity to be better informed the next time around. And welcome to Brown.

        • The Same Anonymous says:

          You’re absolutely correct with regard to the fact that admissions is not need-blind for international students. I’m sorry if my comment came off as debating that – I did not intend it to. You’re original comment, however, carried a negative connotation that (in one perspective, of course) suggested that “non-rich” international students held a nearly insurmountable disadvantage over their wealthier peers. This is not so, because if you were to step into my shoes for a moment, you would see that even the existence of need-based international financial aid makes Brown far more generous and accessible than a majority of universities both in this country as well as those around the globe.

          At this point, both of us, of course, are sufficiently aware of Brown’s financial aid policies as well as it’s limitations. It is however worth considering why Brown wouldn’t incorporate need-blind admissions for international students (which is the case with most if not all of the other Ivies). While my knowledge of this issue is limited, I speculate this is directly or indirectly a result of insufficient funds that can be granted as scholarships to foreign students. If that really is the case, then the onus falls upon current students (such as you and I, after we graduate) as well as alumni to give to Brown as much as they comfortably can, and on the university to best manage any donations it receives, while at the same time not affecting domestic aid.

          Essentially, need-blind admissions are good. Need-based FinAid is good. And the university is doing the best it can.

          • Chris Paxson: Space Commander says:

            “The university is doing the best it can.” Look man, as someone who hasn’t been here yet you’d have no way of knowing, but trust me: the university is very much not doing the best it can. It’s not raising money for universal need-blind, it’s raising money for shitty gyms and other shitty things. When you show up next year please please please don’t just assume C-Pax is wise and righteous.

          • You’re right, you probably know better. Sorry to have sounded like that. 😛

            Anyway, here’s a glimmer of hope:

  2. bridgeport says:

    Some non U.S. applicants from some countries fabricate their applications to get admitted, and fabricate their financial aid applicants to get some financial aid, even though their families can afford the tuition. Brown admission office and (at least) some Brown deans know about this, but do nothing about what they know.

  3. I think Brown should work to be able to educate more undergrads… and more graduate students… If Brown wants something, anything, it can have it. It just seems like a limitation, to deny some of the brilliant applicants… why have them go on to give to some other school’s alumni association for the rest of their lives? Reality is Brown’s capacity is impressive, not too much under Harvard’s total undergrad population.. though 9% does not seem to make sense to me… I would like to see Brown admit 100% of applicants who deserve to be there, not 99%, not 98%, etc… so whether the school denied 1, 100 or 1,000 ambitious applicants who were deserving — I think that is a failure and is not in keeping with the intentions of the people who contributes to make the University what it is today.

  4. “…computer science overtook English as a top five concentration.
    Increased interest in computer science could stem from factors like promising job prospects in the field…
    Duh, d’ya think? Despite all the publicity around the affirmative action crowd in gender and race studies taking over the place, most students understand that they might actually want to learn something useful.
    The only question is whether Brown can still do that.

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