Distributed February 24, 2001
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Mark Nickel



Brown adopts an ‘early decision’ admission policy for early applicants
After discussions with the Brown Corporation Saturday (Saturday, Feb. 24, 2001), Interim President Sheila E. Blumstein announced her decision to change the University’s non-binding “early action” admission option. Beginning with the Class of 2006, students who apply for early admission must agree to make a binding decision on Brown’s offer of admission.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Following discussions during the winter meeting of the Brown Corporation Saturday, Feb. 24, 2001, Interim President Sheila E. Blumstein announced her decision to change the University’s non-binding “early action” admission option. Beginning this fall with the Class of 2006, Brown will offer only “early decision” for students who apply in the early admission cycle.

Until now, successful candidates who applied by November 1 received their offers of admission in mid-December. Under the former policy, they could postpone their decision to accept or reject that offer until the following May. The new policy requires students who apply for early admission to make a binding decision on Brown’s offer of admission.

“External changes in admissions practice and a dramatic increase in early applicants to Brown have altered the rationale for early action,” said Interim President Sheila E. Blumstein, who presented the recommendation to the Corporation. “While an early decision policy now seems closer to Brown’s original intent, it is fair to say that Brown is making this change with some reluctance.”

Historically, Brown did not allow early admission candidates to apply to any other school under a non-binding early action option. By limiting students to only one early action school, Brown attracted a strong pool of candidates who were genuinely interested in attending.

Two years ago, the National Association for College Admission Counseling ruled that universities could not restrict applicants in that way, so Brown began allowing prospective students to apply to more than one early action school. That policy change led to a dramatic increase in early applications – more than a 65-percent increase in the first year alone – and a workload that has stretched the admission staff and alumni interviewers to the limit.

“After that policy change, early action became a standard admission strategy, an early testing of the waters,” said Michael Goldberger, Brown’s director of admission. “Clearly, we are now evaluating application materials from thousands of students who have not yet narrowed their sights on Brown and two years ago would not have applied early. We have, in effect, simply moved the regular admission process several months forward.”

A national trend toward early application to multiple schools also disadvantages students whose families and high schools cannot marshal the multiple letters of recommendation, transcripts, forms and application fees that are required, Goldberger said.

The “early decision” policy presented by President Blumstein and endorsed by the Corporation will be closer to the original early action rationale:

  • There will be no strategic advantage to applying early. Brown will make the same decisions in early admission as it does in regular admission.

  • Potential students will retain the option of receiving an advanced admission decision, and Brown will have a strong early pool of genuinely interested students.

  • Admission staff and alumni interviewers will have an early admission pool of manageable size.

  • There will be no difference between early and regular admission with regard to financial aid.

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