Minority students and first-generation college students applied to Brown in greater numbers this year than ever before, according to Dean of Admission Jim Miller '73, who attributed the rise to University efforts to recruit a more diverse applicant pool.
"We made a very conscious decision to focus recruitment almost exclusively in schools and populations with students of color and first-generation college students," he said of high school visits made by admissions officers in the past year.
The University received about 48 percent more African-American applicants this year than last year and 42 percent more Latino applicants, in both early and regular decision rounds, Miller said. Applications from first-generation college students increased by about 40 percent, he said.
Applications increased overall by about 20 percent, he said.
The Admission Office and the Office of Institutional Diversity decided to try to improve recruitment of minority students in part because they saw that black enrollment at Brown was low in comparison to its peer institutions.
"It was an issue of focusing on not the students who were admitted," but those who applied, said Valerie Wilson, associate provost and director of institutional diversity.
"There's no magic number that anybody's looking for," she said.
When visiting high schools, admissions officers stressed the availability of resources such as the Third World Center and University support services for first-generation college students, Miller said.
Another point admissions officers emphasized was the availability of financial aid at Brown, due to recent University initiatives to increase aid and eliminate loan packages, he said.
For example, the Alumni of Color Initiative, begun in April 2008 as part of the Campaign for Academic Enrichment, "provides financial aid with a preference for students of color with financial need," according to the Boldly Brown Web site.
The University's entrance into the QuestBridge consortium, a national program that awards full scholarships to low-income, first-generation college students at top schools, also helped Brown gain visibility among those student populations, Miller said.
The decision to focus admissions officer visits to these schools meant that others had to be passed over. "There are a finite number of dollars we have to recruit, and a finite number of days and people," Miller said.
While admissions officers are still reading the more than 27,000 regular decision applications, the demographic shift in applicants can already be seen in the group of students admitted early decision this December.
Compared to last year, 80 percent more black students and 37 percent more Latinos were admitted early, resulting in the most diverse group of admitted early decision students ever, The Herald reported in December.
The Admission Office is currently working on A Day on College Hill and the Third World Welcome program to convince as many admitted students as possible to matriculate. "We need to spend a lot of time on that," Miller said.