The Office of Admissions received nearly 25,000 applications for admission into the class of 2013, the highest number in the University's history and a 21 percent increase from last year's 20,604 applications.
The unprecedented increase was not limited to any particular group, as applications from all regions, socioeconomic groups and academic backgrounds rose.
"We're not sure why the pool has grown so substantially - the only information we have now is anecdotal as we read applications," Dean of Admissions James Miller '73 wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.
Miller said the University's aid initiatives, announced last February, may have boosted the number of applications. The new aid policies eliminated loans for students from families earning less than $100,000 and family contributions for those from families earning less than $60,000. The policy also reduced loans for all students receiving financial aid.
"I think it's fair to say the increase we've seen is unexpected," "particularly given the economic difficulties many families are facing," Miller wrote.
There was a particular increase in applications from southern and western states, Miller noted, a trend that could be attributed to increased recruiting in the areas.
Early decision results were released Dec. 11. In contrast to regular decision, early decision applications decreased by about 100, to 2,348 applications. Of those, just over 550 were admitted, consistent with the number of students that have been admitted in previous years in the early admission round. The drop in early applications was in part due to the drop in applications to the Program in Liberal Medical Education.
When Harvard and Princeton dropped their early admission programs two years ago, there was speculation that the number of early applications to other Ivy League institutions would increase, but that appears not to be the case at Brown.
"We didn't see a big change in our early decision applicant pool as a result of Harvard and Princeton dropping their programs - either last year or this," Miller wrote.
Across the Ivy League, there has been a general increase in applications, with Dartmouth reporting a 7.5-percent increase and Yale reporting a 13.5 increase in early applications, according to the schools' respective newspapers. Harvard and Princeton posted somewhat smaller increases, with Harvard receiving 5.6 percent more applications and Princeton 2.3 percent, according to a Jan. 22 article in Bloomberg News.
The University's recent switch to the Common Application - a single application that can be submitted to over 300 colleges in the United States - may have also been responsible for the increased interest, Miller wrote. But he added that the switch was probably only responsible for 5 to 7 percent of the growth in applications.
Applicants to Brown also had to fill out a Brown-specific supplement with extra essays and short answers, asking them why they chose to apply and to describe a particular academic experience that has influenced them.
"It did not affect my choice to apply, but I was relieved to see that it was the Common Application," said Michael Pastore '13, a senior at Douglas High School in Massachusetts. "I was so set on Brown, and I knew that it was where I wanted to be."
Natasha Kumar '13 from Hershey, Pa., an early admitted PLME, expressed the same sentiment, saying she knew she wanted to go to Brown regardless of the application. Interested in community health, Kumar said she was attracted to the idea of crafting a less science-intensive path to medicine.
Christine Freije, a senior at Marianapolis Preparatory School in Thompson, Conn., was not admitted in the early decision round, but instead was deferred. Interested in theater, Freije chose Brown for its location and the Department of Theatre, Speech and Dance.
"Brown is still absolutely my first-choice school," Freije said, adding that if admitted, she would attend without hesitation.
She, along with other deferred students, will wait until early April to learn whether she has been