News, University News

University yield rate hits record high

University admin attribute 62.3 percent rate to admission, financial aid initiatives

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, October 10, 2019

The yield rate for the class of 2023 — the percentage of accepted students who enrolled at the University — reached a record-high 62.3 percent, said Dean of Admission Logan Powell.

The University has seen a steady increase in yield numbers over the past three classes, according to data provided by the Admission Office.  For the class of 2020, the yield rate was 55.8 percent.

Powell attributed the increase in yield rates to various initiatives within the Admission Office and the Financial Aid Office.

Since 2017, the Admission Office has added additional events to its A Day On College Hill program for admitted students, growing it from one event to three held throughout the month of April. This has increased overall ADOCH attendance by 25 percent, giving accepted students more opportunities to learn about the University firsthand, Powell said. The Admission Office also increased the number of travel grants given to admitted students attending ADOCH, The Herald previously reported.

First-year students interviewed by The Herald cited ADOCH as an influencing factor in their decision to enroll.

After visiting campus for ADOCH, “I couldn’t imagine myself being anywhere else, because I felt like the happiest version of myself would be here,” said Asenette Ruiz ’23.

Gabe Merkel ’23 said that the ADOCH program he attended last spring gave him the impression that “Brown really does want its students to enjoy their experience here and find success academically.” Merkel added that he “didn’t get that sense from other schools that (he) visited for admitted students’ days, both from the students and from the activities that were planned, and the speeches that were given.”

Additionally, Powell said the Brown Promise — which eliminated loans from financial aid packages starting with the class of 2022 — made the University more attractive to students weighing aid packages from other institutions.

Though initiatives such as the Brown Promise increase the University’s yield rate, they are not conceived with this goal in mind, Powell added.

The implementation of the Brown Promise was a “transformative moment” for the University, he said, adding that Brown is currently one of only a few peer institutions “that are need-blind for all domestic applicants, that meet full demonstrated need and that don’t package loans in financial aid awards.”

The Brown Promise was particularly appealing to Ruiz, who applied only to institutions she believed would offer her competitive financial aid packages.

Similarly, for Isaac Jenemann ’23, “knowing that (the admission process) was need-blind” was a draw for him to apply in the first place.

In addition to the Brown Promise, the Financial Aid Office has made efforts to increase aid offered to middle and moderate-income students and decrease parent contributions in these cases, said Dean of Financial Aid Jim Tilton. The University also offers a health insurance scholarship to every student on financial aid who doesn’t have “comparable insurance coverage,” an award of approximately $3,800, he said.

Aside from Admission Office and Financial Aid Office initiatives, the Open Curriculum also helped convince first-years interviewed by The Herald to enroll at the University.

Katherine Dowling ’23, who was unsure what she wanted to study before matriculating, felt that the Open Curriculum would offer her the freedom to take classes across many disciplines. Jenemann was similarly attracted to the size of the University and the liberal arts curriculum.

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  1. Once again, figures in a vacuum.
    Is Brown the only university with a yield figure?
    How does Brown compare to Harvard? to Stanford?
    Quick answer: much lower.
    Brown’s admissions process is broken. Brown takes 8 minutes per application. It’s like asking someone to marry you 8 minutes into the first date–makes no sense.

    • John, I’d love to know where that “8 minutes” per application figure came from. Got a source for the data?
      With respect to the yield rate, I do agree that the figures are in a vacuum at this point, but I can tell you how our 62.3% yield rate stacks up against the most recently published figures for other schools (data from US News, January 2019). Brown’s yield is indeed lower than Harvard (83%) and Stanford (82%) and, in case you’re interested, BYU (81%). However, Brown’s rate is higher than Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell, and Notre Dame. What Brown’s rising yield rate means, at a time when students often apply to a dozen or more colleges, is that nearly 2/3 of admitted students choose to enroll, which is excellent by any standard – especially since it has been on a steady upward climb.

      • Hello again Ken,

        The 8 minutes per application are simple to calculate: simply divide the number of applications received by the number of people reviewing them, then take into account their actual working time spent reviewing. Even if half are thrown out right away, 16 minutes per application is ridiculous.

        The other front we discussed but was accepted like an unpleasant item in the punchbowl was Brown forming relationships with high school students by teaching AP courses…

        Why, Ken, is Brown admissions stuck in the 19th Century?

        • Hello, John!
          I’m glad that the calculation is simple, but you still haven’t shown me how you arrived at it. Do you actually know the number of admissions officers who review these applications and the number of days each one of them spends during the admissions process?

          I poked around on the internet and found a number of articles and postings that cited that “8 minute” figure as the average time that college admissions offices spend per application. Is that where you got the figure? If so, why do you assume it applies to Brown?

          And, since you often reference Harvard, do you have documentation that Harvard (or other schools) spend more time than that? You claimed that our Admissions Office was stuck in the “19th century.” I was unaware that electronic submission via the common app was invented in the 1800s. Live and Learn, I guess.

          • Hi Ken,
            Let’s start with the basics. The whole idea of taking in >32K applications for admission and sending out acceptance letters to ~2K is outdated, inefficient, and doesn’t ensure that Brown gets the best students.
            Rather than asking someone to marry you after 8, or 16 or even 30 minutes is not the right way to start a relationship.
            Rather, Brown should take the lead in forming relationships–meaningful relationships–with high school students years before they attend. As you know, this is particularly important for the poor and minority students Brown is seeking to attract–both because they’re hard to attract and, once they attend, are more likely to fail.
            I had proposed that Brown start a program of teaching high school students AP courses–taught by Brown profs and proctored by Brown students. In such a plan, Brown profs would be paid $200K per course they taught, and Brown students $200 per student for proctoring. The key to this program is the relationship formed between the HS and the Brown student. In this plan, proctors can help to find and coach promising HS students, and HS students can form a better impression of Brown over time.
            The best news is that Brown would earn a net $100 million a year from this program, charging $1500 per course (for those who can pay) and scholarships for those who can’t. 14 courses for 10K people would pay salaries and provide a profit.
            I’ve already proposed a pilot for Northern CA, with interest from Palo Alto HS and Menlo HS. Inner city schools can also participate.
            So, Ken, do you favor the 19th Century “apply and pray” technique, which results in 38% of those accepted not attending Brown? Or do you favor a 21st Century “in-depth social model” which provides Brown and the prospective Brown student years of experience before reaching a decision.
            And, oh, there’s that thing about $100 million to Brown–10% of your overall operating budget.
            So, Ken, rather than rummage in the weeds to find out if it’s 8 or 16 minutes per applicant, please focus on the bigger picture. Can’t Brown take the leadership–for once–and build these relationships with potential Brown students?

          • Dear John,
            Thanks very much for clarifying your comments. It’s now clear that it’s not the “8 minutes per application” pseudo-calculation that was at the heart of your comments, but rather your proposal to do admissions in an entirely different way.
            I will tell you honestly that I find your on-line ($1500 per course) proposal interesting, and I would live to see a pilot project tried in a few districts, as you say you are trying to do. I do have doubts about its practicality, since it would seem to displace existing public school AP courses (which are already taught for free in most schools) with a pay-for-access, on line version. So far, on-line courses have had very high dropout rates and mixed academic results. In my own field (AP Biology) this simply would not work, since a certain number of intensive, specified labs are required for an accredited AP Bio course, and I see no way to do these remotely. But I do agree it’s worth thinking about.
            Best Wishes,

          • Hi Ken,

            Thanks for your feedback and questions.

            To your points:
            1) Brown can differentiate its AP courses in a number of ways, for example: offering partial tuition credit if the student attends Brown.
            2) This is not a typical online offering. The key “hidden” agenda is to form a 1 on 1 relationship between the Brown student proctor and the HS student. This results in a myriad of benefits to both.
            3) Of course not all AP courses could be taught online. Most can, however. I’m working with a tech university that would like to implement this program–they will not be offering lab-oriented AP courses, but they will be offering, for example, calc and trig courses which help them determine the student’s readiness to start with more advanced technical classes once they arrive at the university.

            Thanks for saying that you find the ideas “interesting.” To be frank, there hasn’t been an “interesting” reform at Brown since the Magaziner/Maxwell days (you and I remember those well). I’m not a university type who endlessly debates to find the perfect solution. Rather, I’m a recovering Silicon Valley VC who believes in “FIRE, AIM, READY”.

            Ken, you and I are at a point in our lives where we can reach for the stars. There’s no downside to bringing meaningful reform to a university we love. If they shoot it down–no worries. There are other universities who are more open-minded.

            But imagine IF…
            IF Brown could form meaningful relationships with potential attendees years before the application process begins
            IF applications were no longer nail-biting, low-information encounters, but rather the culmination of years of work.
            IF Brown could determine a poor, minority student’s needs years before that student attended Brown–and increased his/her chance of graduating.
            IF Brown could bid adieu to yearly budget shortfalls by adding $100 million to its operating budget.

            “Worth thinking about”?
            The time for THINKING is over.
            We don’t have much time left on this planet.
            The time for DOING is now…
            What prevents us from starting this program next year?

          • AP courses are taught for free at most schools. Why on earth would anyone pay 1500 per course? You can also attend your local community college for pennies during high school. Most families can barely afford SAT application fees. Ridiculous.

          • Anon, you’re an idiot. Not worth responding to you.

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