Brown University modernizes admission process with new app

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND – Over 46 thousand applications to the undergraduate Class of 2025 at Brown University were submitted last admissions cycle. Only 5.5% were admitted.

With such impressive admission numbers on paper, Brown University’s decision to replace its student application with an app came as a surprise to many.

In a Board of Trustees meeting conducted over Zoom last Friday, Provost Richard M. Locke justified the decision as inevitable.

“20 years ago, higher education moved away from paper applications. Why? Online applications are easier to process and we can reach more prospective applicants. 20 years from now, higher education will be overtaken by admissions by app anyways. We are not just staying ahead of the curve here, we are leading higher education into the future.

Richard M. Locke, Provost at Brown University

Universities across the nation have seen the total number of applications steadily increase since the 1950s. Historically, the trend is fueled by an ever-greater share of high school graduates pursuing post-secondary education. Brown made headlines last year when it became the first Ivy League institution to make standardized tests optional for applicants in the 2022-2023 admission cycle.

An applications app makes the tedious and exhaustive work of making admission decisions more efficient, says Undergraduate Admissions Officer Trevor Vance.

“GPAs under 3.5, bad letters of rec, or profile pics of prospective students posing with a fish they caught – I automatically swipe left on all those.”

Deanna Siat, Undergraduate Admissions Office at Brown University
Screenshot of an application to Brown University as it appears to the Admissions Committee in the new app format

Matches on the app between applicants and the admissions committee do not guarantee admission. Brown is also replacing its interview stage with a chat feature. Students that start chats with low-effort openings – such as gifs or simply “hey” – are frequently removed from the application pool.

“Sometimes we waitlist applicants with no intention of ever admitting them. We love reading their desperate messages to get off the waitlist. Sometimes its nice just to recieve a little validation, y’know?”

Trevor Vance, Undergraduate Admissions Office at Brown University

Brown University’s new admissions app Browder is available for download on all Android and iOS devices.

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