News, University News

Brown admits 6.9 percent of applicants amid COVID-19 crisis

Acceptance rate rises for first time since 2016, waitlist will grow in anticipation of increased number of students taking gap years

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, March 26, 2020

The University admitted 1,732 students to the class of 2024, bringing this year’s overall acceptance rate to 6.9 percent, according to Dean of Admission Logan Powell.

The regular decision acceptance rate rose to 5.2 percent from 4.8 percent for the class of 2023. Students admitted through this round will still need to make their decisions by May 1, but the University will consider extensions on a “case-by-case” basis, Powell added.

As the COVID-19 crisis and its economic effects continue, Powell said the Office of Admission and the Office of Financial Aid are preparing for an increase in the number of students who will appeal their financial aid packages or take gap years to defer the financial stress of paying for college. 

“We have to expect that there will be requests for reconsiderations and requests for changes, but we’re prepared for that,” Powell said. “We are here to be as supportive and as flexible as we possibly can be with the admitted class of 2024. We know that they are facing enormous hardships in many cases.”

To keep the size of the class consistent with past years at 1,665 students, the University may accept more students than it usually does off of its waitlist, Powell said. Additionally, the University gave out a “slightly larger” number of waitlist offers to give the admissions department “flexibility” if they need to accept more students, Powell added. The waitlist, he predicted, will have roughly 800 active students this year. In recent years, the University has admitted anywhere between two to 300 students off of the waitlist, The Herald previously reported.

“This year is more unpredictable than any we’ve had in recent memory,” he said. “We understand that this may be a different year in terms of enrollment patterns. It may be that more students decide to take a year off, and if that’s the case, then there may be more waitlist activity.”

The University will not inform waitlisted students in their admissions notifications of the potential for a greater number of open spots resulting from the greater number of admitted students who may choose to take gap years. 

“We just ask them to be patient and understanding,” Powell said. “We don’t want to send misleading information without all of the best facts in hand.”

The increase in the overall acceptance rate, from 6.6 percent for the class of 2023 to 6.9 percent for the class of 2024, marks the first jump in the rate since 2016, when the University offered spots to 9 percent of applicants for the class of 2020, up from 8.5 percent the previous year.

A total of 36,794 students applied for the class of 2024, as opposed to 38,674 for the class of 2023, The Herald previously reported — the second-largest and largest application pools in University history, respectively.

“It’s still an extraordinarily selective process,” Powell said. “We’re honored that 37,000 students chose to apply. It’s humbling, and it’s incredibly gratifying.”

Fifty-five percent of the students admitted in regular decision identify as students of color, compared to 44 percent of students admitted early decision in December 2019. Outside of the United States, China, Canada, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea and the United Kingdom topped the countries represented in the class.

Seventy percent of students admitted regular decision applied for financial aid, while 62 percent of students admitted early decision applied. Currently, 43 percent of undergraduates receive need-based aid, according to an email from Dean Powell. 18 percent of admitted students are first-generation college students.

The University admitted 88 students to the Program in Liberal Medical Education out of 2,530 applicants, and 20 students to the Brown/RISD Dual Degree Program from a pool of 725 applicants.

In place of A Day on College Hill, which was canceled due to COVID-19, Powell added that the University will use Wisr — a networking software that connects different members of college communities — to facilitate virtual conversations between faculty, current students and prospective students in “communities” centered around different themes.

Potential themes could include ROTC, student centers such as the Brown Center for Students of Color and various academic concentrations, Powell said.

“It’s a great platform that allows us in real time to upload information that may be useful to (prospective students) as they consider their options,” Powell said. “It’s a great way to showcase the strength of Brown.”

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  1. Stanford has announced that it will stop quoting such statistics, as they are meaningless.
    Brown should do the same.
    In fact, Brown should drop its 19th Century admissions process altogether.
    The average Brown applicant receives 8 minutes of attention before a decision is made. If you assume that half of applicants are quickly dismissed, that means that each ‘valid’ applicant’s papers are given 15 minutes’ examination. 15 minutes! Unbelievable.
    Would you ask someone to marry you 15 minutes into a first date?
    Would you go to work for a company you’ve only known for 15 minutes?
    More to the point, the students applying know as little about Brown as Brown does about them.
    What a useless, wasteful, inaccurate and dehumanizing process.

    I assume – hope – that some intelligence has been applied to analyzing this wasteful and inefficient process. A process that has lasted for over 150 years. But no. Same dreadful routine, same dreadful result.

    Now, why should a 70-year-old Brown and Harvard graduate have to explain social media to Brown’s admissions dean? How applicants and Brown students can interact for years, not just for 15 minutes? About Brown profs teaching high school AP courses (for money) and Brown students proctoring the AP students (for money)? About how Brown and the applicants can form an opinion over years, not just 15 minutes.

    But no. Brown’s admissions dept is stuck in the 19th Century, unwilling to consider anything new. What a lost opportunity! What a lack of imagination!

    • Brown is no different from any other top school. This is called screening. One can look at grades, scores, activities very quickly on a resume. Brown “gets to know” these students by their grades and recommendations that although took four years to produce, can be analyzed quickly. Obviously you know nothing about how to analyze data. What do you propose is a better way to go through forty thousand applicants in three months? And for the record Stanford still publishes its number of applicants and number accepted, so a very quick calculation can give you rates.

  2. Reynolds Woodcock '13 says:

    I don’t know how Brown manages to survive without you. You should be Chancellor. Your wisdom and keen insights into all things Brown are being wasted. Please please come back to Brown and guide us from the wilderness. We are lost without you.

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