The Herald conducted polling this summer to get a clearer picture of the class of 2027. Now, we analyze the data to get a picture of admissions, exploring test-optional policies, legacy impacts and the influence of other factors on getting into Brown. In this episode of the Bruno Brief, we’ll dive into this data as well as filling you in on other important stories from the week.
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Welcome back to the Bruno Brief, I’m Finn Kirkpatrick, podcast and arts and culture editor. On this week’s episode, we spoke with Owen Dahlkamp, senior staff writer, about his reporting on a Brown Daily Herald poll which investigates how students’ personal backgrounds intersect with how they navigated the college admissions process.
The poll found that, among students who responded, legacy students were far more likely to use independent standardized test tutors and submit test scores. The same holds true for students not receiving financial aid and whose parents attended college.
Meanwhile, nearly 80% of respondents with a parent or sibling who attended Brown applied through the binding early decision process. Similarly, 65% of respondents who attended private high schools applied early decision compared to only 49% from public schools.
So Owen, what was the main intention of this poll?
Last month, President Christina Paxson P'19 P'MD'20 convened the ad hoc committee on admissions to determine the fate of legacy preferences, standardized test scores submission and early decision application rounds in University admission. They emphasized that they would use a data-driven approach to understand how these policies are impacting applicants and how they may change the overall makeup of the student body. The Herald used first-year poll data to understand exactly what data points they could be looking at, and who benefits from these policies and who is disadvantaged by them. This is given in the context of the recent Supreme Court decision which struck down a lot of race-conscious application review processes.
How was the poll conducted and what did it ask?
So back in July of this year, we sent out a poll to all incoming first-year students in the class of 2027, asking among other things, whether they submitted test scores, what application cycle they applied during and some questions about their background — whether they were legacy students, what types of high schools that they went to, whether they were receiving financial aid, other factors like that, in total, we received 710 responses of about the 1700 incoming students, resulting in a 41% response rate.
And what did the results look like?
The areas that we specifically focused on in our analysis were test score submission, who applies early decision, what college-level courses students took during their time in high school, whether they submitted a video introduction and whether they use college counselors and or standardized test tutors to help with their application. Going through some of these results, we found test score submission to vary pretty widely between different demographics. So some of the most striking differences were between first-generation students and non-first-generation students with first-generation students much less likely to submit test scores. We also found slight differences between the application cycles with early decision a little bit less likely to submit test scores. Parental education was also relatively indicative of test scores submission: With the more education an applicant's parents have received, the more likely it is that they will submit test scores. One of the other big takeaways was from legacy students, students whose parents attended the undergraduate program at Brown. We found that those with parents who attended the University were much more likely to submit test scores as well as those whose siblings are currently attending or have attended the University with about 93% of those applicants submitting test scores. The Herald also found first-generation students were much less likely to apply early-decision and more likely to apply via Questbridge. Questbridge is a program that matches students from low-income backgrounds with highly selective universities and colleges via a separate application process. Legacy students were much more likely to apply early decision with 80% of those who have siblings who attend the college applying early decision compared to 78% of those whose parents attend the college. In contrast, only about half of those who have no familial ties to the University applied early decision.
Was there anything particularly shocking to come out of the data?
The most shocking results that we found when we were doing our data analysis was AP courses and which students took AP courses by their type of high school. When we're looking at those who are taking AP courses, of all the applicants, 93% of applicants took AP courses, but 43% of those who attended private schools said that their school did not even offer AP courses. Many private schools are actually moving away from AP courses because they know that the applications will be reviewed in what we call in-context, which means that the academic rigor that a student takes during their time in high school will be considered in the context of the courses that are offered by that high school.
Owen, thanks so much for coming in.
Thanks so much for having me.
Now here is a recap of other important stories happening this week.
In a follow-up to our previous episode, the University is prepared to recognize the proposed union of Community Coordinators pending a check of their signed authorization cards. Last spring, the University did not voluntarily recognize the CS TA union, known as TALO, culminating in an election with the National Labor Relations Board that TALO won.
In other news, the Providence City Council approved a voluntary payment agreement between the University and Providence, as well as another agreement between the city and Brown, Johnson & Wales, the Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Rhode Island. This comes after student activists criticized the agreements, saying the University should pay more to the city. Brown is set to pay an average of $8.7 million annually to Providence under the agreement before possible deductions.
Lastly, protestors gathered outside the Rhode Island State House on Monday afternoon to protest the end of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority’s fare-free R-Line Pilot Program. The pilot ran for 13 months, but starting Oct. 1, riders once again began paying the $2 fare.
Thanks again for tuning into the fifth episode of this season of the Bruno Brief. This episode was produced by Jacob Smollen and me, Finn Kirkpatrick, edited by Rohey Jasseh, Annabelle Kim and Julia Gallent and scripted by Carter Moyer. If you like what you hear, subscribe to The Bruno Brief wherever you get your podcasts and leave a review. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next week.
Denzel Sprak: https://app.sessions.blue/browse/track/203142
Plate Glass: https://app.sessions.blue/browse/track/208105