A year ago, Aaron Bartnick '11 was sitting in a dorm room with three other admitted high school students during A Day on College Hill. Two of these students came to ADOCH undecided about where they would spend the next four years, and at least one of them would leave settled on Brown. That student was "convinced to come" by Bartnick, an early admit, and the fourth student, a recruited athlete, Bartnick said.
Organizers are hoping this year's ADOCH - which will bring about 800 students to campus tomorrow and Wednesday - will retain the enthusiasm from students like Bartnick despite the University's decision to not invite students admitted early this year. The change is an effort to downsize the event, which had become overcrowded and impersonal, leaving people with a "not-so-great taste in their mouths" about the experience, Dean of Admission James Miller '73 said.
The event this year will also become "specifically a recruitment event, rather than an orientation event," said Ashley Cromwell '10, one of the ADOCH coordinators. The decision not to include early applicants comes as Brown faces a "very competitive year" with peer institutions, Miller said.
New financial aid policies may lure admitted students to Harvard, Princeton and Yale. In addition, Harvard and Princeton recently dropped their early decision programs, so many students who would have applied early to those schools will now apply to Brown as well. This means more applicants will be facing tough decisions about where to accept admission, making it more important than ever for Brown to make ADOCH "the best experience possible," Miller said.
To make up for the enthusiasm that might be lost without early applicants, the ADOCH committee has recruited 30 volunteers who will "basically substitute for the early decision kids," mingling with participants and promoting Brown at each event, said ADOCH coordinator Anthony Staehelin '10.
The event will also feature a number of "academic lectures" this year, during which professors will speak about their departments and give a typical introductory lecture. While actual Brown classes will still be open to prospective students, these lectures will allow students to experience classes that don't require "lots of prerequisite knowledge they don't have," Cromwell said.
In addition, ADOCH will have a formal closing ceremony with an address by former Senator Lincoln Chafee '75, a visiting fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies.
More students signed up for ADOCH this year than anticipated, Miller said. Even without the early applicants, the event will bring a comparable number of students to campus. The increased interest reflects Brown's popularity, he said, as well as the number of students facing "difficult choices."
Miller said he expects Brown's financial aid packages for many students to be comparable to those from other schools. Still, he said it is "very important to make sure people get exposed to Brown."
"Choosing a college is a very visceral and emotional experience," Miller said. "We just need to show Brown as fully as we can, and people will respond positively."
But for early applicants, response to not being invited to ADOCH hasn't been entirely positive. The Office of Admission has received a few calls and e-mails from students about the event, and had to explain why early decision students weren't invited.
"I guess they were unhappy," Staehelin said, "but hopefully they understand that it's in their interest to get the best students here."
Staehelin added that early decision students "mean a lot to the University."
"We haven't forgotten about them," he said. "In terms of ADOCH, we've just shifted our focus."
The Office of Admission will still hold admitted student tours and lunches. In addition, it has organized more regional receptions for admitted students - upwards of 30 this year, Miller said. He added that the University has been in touch with early decision students throughout the winter with mailings, including letters from President Ruth Simmons.
Still, some students admitted early are not satisfied.
Kevin Chen '11 said a friend of his was admitted early and was "kind of ticked" that she wasn't invited to the event.
"She wanted a chance to reinvigorate her passion for Brown," he said.
Chen said excluding early decision students would probably decrease the number of students who enroll in the University. Other students are divided on the effects of the change.
Julie Siwicki '10 said the lack of early decision students probably won't make a difference at ADOCH. She said most people she talked to when she went to the event hadn't gotten in early, but almost all of them were set on Brown. Cy Kilbourn '11, on the other hand, said most people he talked to at ADOCH were still deciding where to accept admission.
Regardless of how many students are undecided, Megan Litrownik '10, who was accepted early, said the lack of early applicants will "really change the atmosphere."
"I really liked being there and talking to kids about why I chose Brown," she said.
She and Bartnick both said that, ultimately, the students who were admitted early are the ones who will lose.
"It doesn't serve any purpose for them," Bartnick said. "It's totally justified, but it's unfortunate."