Should I Apply to Brown

I wouldn’t apply ED, I would apply RD, but I am just wondering if it is even worth it applying to Brown or if I really have no chance. Also other schools around Brown’s level (Dartmouth, Duke, Notre Dame, Rice, etc):

White, male, located at a public school in Connecticut

UW GPA: ~3.7 (school doesn’t calculate it so I’m not 100% sure)
W GPA: 4.07
No class rank but I would be top 10%

SAT: I’ve taken it twice and I am getting both scores back within the next 2 weeks; estimating around a 1420-1440


  • Captain of track team
  • Head commissioner of my school’s rec basketball league
  • Manager of XC team
  • Student body secretary
  • Large role in theater
  • In a select a cappella group and 2 other choirs
  • Lead mentor in a mentoring program
  • One of the head Peer Ministers at my church
  • Played piano for 9 years
  • Altar server for 12 years

Awards: (not the best)

  • AP Scholar
  • National Honors Society
  • Spanish Honors Society
  • Student-Athlete Award (school)
  • Student Excellence Award (school)

I have gotten feedback from people who actually review college essays, and I have gotten very positive feedback. I would say a solid 8.5/10

Letters of Recommendation:
I won’t be reading them, as I waived my rights, but the teachers know me very well so I would say both would be a 8/10 or so

Intended Major: Statistics (or something very similar)

Financial Situation:
I am very fortunate that I will be getting my education paid for by my parents, so don’t take that into consideration while responding

Not sure if I left anything out, but I just want to know if it would even be worth applying RD to Brown, or if I should just save money and time for writing essays and stressing and just not apply.

Also, of course I have my targets and safeties. I just want to know if applying to these level schools would even be reasonable and logical for me, given my overall application.

Have you run the net price calculator? If you have and can afford to attend - and you have match and likely schools - then it doesn’t hurt to try for a couple of reach schools.

What do you know from your school? Naviance? where did the top handful of students from the last 2 years go?

Do you and your LoR teachers tend to be understated? What would it take in your mind to have a 10/10 essay? what would it take for a student to get a 10/10 LoR?

It is always fine to apply to a couple of reach schools.

Take a hard look at Brown and what Brown has to offer, and then why you think that Brown is the school for you. Then be able to articulate that in an essay.

@Groundwork2022 @collegemom3717 @happy1 @CU123 thanks for your responses. I have visited Brown and it has always been a school I have loved for over a year now. I have researched it in depth and have talked to some admissions counselors. I think I am going to apply, thanks for the feedback!

The lower bound of the middle-50% grouping of combined SAT scores for admitted students is about 1450. You will presumably come in a bit below that, but still in an area of the curve from which many students are admitted. Of course admission is less likely than if you were at the high end of the grouping, but you are in the running test-wise and grade-wise to the point that I wouldn’t use the term “reach school”. If you are lucky enough to be admitted you could probably do well in many of the concentrations they offer, so give it a shot and it either works out or it doesn’t.

My main thoughts though are in regard to Statistics. Your chance of admission may improve if there are relatively fewer applicants for that concentration, vs say Engineering. But for any STEM concentration the question becomes how your combined SAT breaks down between writing and math, and what your Calculus background/ability is. Your math qualifications should be really good, not only to have much of an admissions chance, but more importantly to be able to succeed in the concentration if admitted. Their Statistics concentration is a lot of multiple-integral Calculus (and worse), as opposed to the algebraic-based material seen in say a statistics-for-sociology course. Even if you’ve had HS Statistics, you may not have really seen what you would be in for at Brown.

There’s no harm in applying, as long as you understand that the odds are really, really long.

Have you considered U of Rochester? Its curriculum philosophy is similar to Brown’s, and it attracts a similar intellectually-serious student body. It’s a fantastic place for singers and has D3 track and XC. My daughter and I toured both Brown and URoch on our east coast trip, and her comment after the Rochester visit was, “It’s like Brown without the attitude and with better music.”

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@Brown79 My SAT breakdown will probably be somewhere around 780 in math and 650 in English (I am very math-oriented). I am currently taking AP Calculus BC (took AP Calculus AB last year and got an A+ and a 5 on the exam). Math is certainly my strongsuit.

@aquapt I will definitely look into Rochester! Outside of academics, I 100% want to be involved in a singing group in college and also do an intramural/club sport (possibly even D3 if the school has D3 track because my times are there). I will definitely give it a look, thanks!

One of my daughter’s HS friends ran D3 XC at Rochester, participated in multiple music groups, took private lessons at Eastman, and pursued a STEM major - had a great experience there. Seems like potentially a great match school for you, especially if they’re interested in you for track. Have you been filling out recruiting forms for D3 schools? They all have them:

There are lots of a cappella groups! They have a variety of math-y majors, including both theoretical and applied math tracks, statistics, and data science.

When my kids were applying, our philosophy on the super-reach schools like Brown was, get the apps for the most realistic targets done first. Then see how much time and motivation you have left. If you’re still excited about the lower-odds apps at that point, go for it - just don’t burn yourself out on the super-reaches until the match and safety apps are done.

@aquapt that’s exactly how I am going about it. My only concern is how well people know the school. Rochester seems to be way less known than many other schools on par with it. Will that have a negative effect after college when I am looking for a job? I personally don’t care about the brand name or anything, I just want to make sure that future employers know the level of prestige that the school I went to is (and knowing that Rochester is very prestigious but not very well known worries me a bit). Should that be a consideration, or is that not something to worry about?

@Groundwork2022 @collegemom3717 @happy1 @CU123 @Brown79 @aquapt now that you all have seen my qualifications, would you guys let me know if this is a good list? Meaning a good list of reaches, targets, and safeties? Another intended major of mine is marketing (which I will apply to at some of the schools). I’ve done a lot of research on these schools so I do know what I’m getting myself into, I just want to make sure, given my qualifications, that it’s a good balance of reaches, targets, and safeties:

  • Brown
  • Notre Dame
  • Wake Forest
  • Northeastern
  • Boston University
  • University of Richmond
  • UCSB
  • UCI
  • UCSD
  • Tulane
  • UMiami
  • George Washington
  • Baylor
  • Dayton
  • George Mason

I think the general public has just been getting more provincial in terms of academic name recognition. I applied to Rochester as a senior at a CT prep school in the 80’s, and likely would’ve gone there if I hadn’t gotten into MIT (and I might have been better off, lol) - it had a great reputation then and has only gotten stronger since. Not to buy into USNW rankings too heavily, but it was ranked in the 40’s when my daughter applied a few years ago, and now it’s up to #34 - right in between Tufts and BC, which both get more love because they’re in Boston. Grad schools and employers know and respect all of these schools.

My older daughter went to Rice, which is a T20 school, ranked right between Brown and Cornell (as you know since it’s on your interest list!). Nobody at her high school had heard of it. She spent her last two months of high school being asked why her college was named after food, whether it was an ag school, whether it was as good as UC Davis, and etc. Name recognition is an imperfect metric to say the least!

I’m not pushing URoch as the be-all and end-all - it just struck me as potentially a good fit with particularly strong music opportunities as well as D3 sports, and an open-ish curriculum somewhat like Brown’s.

You might also consider Tufts, CMU, and Emory. CMU has a very strong math department (very competitive in the Putnam competitions)… and Emory has a very cool Quantitative Sciences major that integrates applied math with a variety of tracks applying quantitative analysis to other fields in the social and natural sciences and humanities. These are all D3 schools.

And I’m not trying to be negative about Brown - it’s just a very steep path for an unhooked New England applicant, so make sure there are other options you’re excited about as well. Your raw stats are within spitting distance of median for admitted students generally, but if we could view stats just for unhooked applicants (taking out all of the recruited athletes, legacies, URM’s, etc.), I you’d see pretty daunting average stats and a very-low-single-digits acceptance rate. Doesn’t mean that you might not impress with your essays, EC’s, etc. - it’s just a long shot. But you have great credentials and should have great options as long as you choose a good array of safety/match/reach schools that you could be happy with.

Instead of Ivies (even lower ranked ones) focus on their peer schools, you’ll have better odds and similar education. Don’t waste early admission card on Ivies.


My only concern is how well people know the school… Will that have a negative effect after college when I am looking for a job? < From my experience, going from Brown undergrad to a very large engineering company (where no one cared that I went to Brown), the answer is “no”. I’ve also talked about this with an engineering VP friend at an engineering consulting company who has hired hundreds of engineers: Companies are looking for good grades from an accredited school, as well as undergrad extracurriculars which demonstrate an interest in the discipline beyond classwork.


If the school has a large well-known (engineering) program (e.g. Georgia Tech, UC, MIT etc), then so much the better. But it’s more about how well you did than where you did it – one reason why my advice to applicants is always “You want to go to a school where you can thrive instead of just survive.” I went to Brown because the Open Curriculum allowed me to do specific things I couldn’t elsewhere. But potential employers are mostly just looking for good grades in the courses which matter for why they are hiring.


Not to buy into USNW rankings too heavily < Or better yet, at all! They ranked Brown #1 for undergraduate teaching and who am I to argue, but there is literally a world of great colleges out there. The undergraduate experience is such a personal thing that one size will never fit all. U of Rochester sounds great… snow shovels notwithstanding. I had a blast at UCSB the summer quarter I was there: Rigorous classes, and a dorm on a bluff overlooking the Pacific (snow shovel very optional : )


It doesn’t hurt to apply. One of my best decisions was choosing brown! If you get in, great! If not, I’m sure you’ll have other schools to fall back on.