How Hard Is It to Get Into Brown?

December 1, 2021
By AdmissionSight

How Hard Is It to Get Into Brown?

For students that are interested in getting into Brown University, the odds are certainly against them. No matter how accomplished or impressive a student is, getting into Brown will prove to be a challenge for you.

But how hard is it to get into Brown really?

At AdmissionSight, we make it our number one goal to give the high school students that we work with every tool that they need to beat the odds of even the most challenging acceptance rates.

One major tool when it comes to that pursuit is knowledge. Knowing what you are up against as a high school applicant and knowing what kinds of grades and scores you will want to have to improve your odds can play a large role in making the entire process less stressful!

Front view of Wayland Hall at Brown University with trees and lawn in front.

So, if you are curious about getting into Brown and what to know about the many ways to get into Brown University, then you have come to the right place! Let’s get started on breaking down the answer to the question. “How hard is it to get into Brown,” and so much more!

Brown’s admission requirements

Let’s start where basically the entire journey to getting into a top school begins – your course load and your grades. Back in the day, there were absolutely colleges and universities that had a list of required courses that they needed to see on a high school applicant’s high school curriculum to consider offering them a spot in the upcoming graduating class.

Now, the process has been democratized for a lot of really important reasons. That has resulted in the vast majority of schools getting rid of admissions requirements entirely.

After all, Brown knows that students are basically at the mercy of their high schools when it comes to the classes that they are able to take during their freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior years.

Still, while there are no admissions requirements for students that want to get into Brown, there absolutely is a list of recommended courses that students should take if they want to improve their chances of getting into this highly selective school.

Those courses include:

  • English – 4 years
  • Math – 3-4 years (through pre-calculus recommended)
  • Lab Science – 3-4 years
  • History & Social Studies – 3-4 years
  • Foreign Language – 3-4 years of one language (ancient or modern)

Keep in mind that Brown itself has reported that the majority of students that apply and get into the school have taken five academic courses per term for all four years of high school. And that is not all you have to consider, either.

One really important thing that admissions officers at schools like Brown look at is the overall level of difficulty connected to a student’s curriculum. What does that mean, you ask?

Well, consider the fact that Brown is known to have one of the most challenging and advanced curricula in the country. Because of that, only the most committed students are going to be able to keep up with the demands.

The last thing admissions officers want to do is accept a student who will unfortunately not be able to live up to those pressures and suffer poor grades as a result.

So, how do high school students prove that they have what it takes to succeed at a school like Brown? One of the best ways to do that is to enroll in as many advanced courses as possible during high school.

That means enrolling in honors classes, AP courses, and IB courses. Enrolling in challenging courses in high school and earning great grades in those classes will give admissions officers a lot of confidence that you can handle the demands of a course load at a top school like Brown.

Brown’s average GPA

Well, now that you know what Brown expects out of its high school applicants in terms of the kinds of courses that they take, chances are good that you are also curious about the average GPA that successful applicants earned during their high school years.

Getting at or above the average Brown GPA can play a huge role in getting into Brown. And while that number changes year to year, students can assume that the average acceptance rate will remain fairly consistent for the foreseeable future.

Right now, the average GPA for students that get into Brown is a phenomenal 4.08. The fact that the GPA is over the perfect A 4.0 is a very strong sign that the majority of students that are getting into Brown these days are students that are taking lots of honors, AP, or IB courses because those courses are graded on a weighted GPA that goes up to a 5.0! Make sure that you keep that information, and that average GPA in mind as you continue your journey through high school.

How Brown compares to the other Ivies

If you are wondering how hard is it to get into Brown, then you are probably also wondering how hard it is to get into the seven other Ivy League schools.

So, how difficult is it to get into Brown and how does that level of difficulty compare to the difficulty of getting into the seven other Ivy League schools? The easiest way to answer those questions is to look at the acceptance rates that are attached to each of the schools.

Students walking and resting in front of University Hall.

Now, it is important to remember here that acceptance rates are not a perfect indicator of difficulty.

After all, these schools are highly self-selective, and that means that the vast majority of students that even apply to begin with are students that have incredibly impressive application resumes.

Still, despite the fact that the acceptance rates cannot be perfectly compared to one another, they do offer a great window into how hard it is to get into each school.

Based on the numbers that we have regarding the 2021 application cycle for students that will one day be part of the graduating class in 2025, it looks as though Brown is right in the middle of the pack of the Ivy League. And while it is in the middle of the pack of the Ivy League, its highly selective acceptance rate still puts it at the very tippy-top of the hardest schools to get into in the entire United States.

So, what is the answer to the question, “How hard is it to get into Brown?” How about, “Very hard!”

Take a look at the Ivy acceptance rates in ascending order of selectivity below:

  1. Columbia (3.9%)
  2. Harvard (4.0%)
  3.  Princeton (4.0%)
  4.  Yale (4.6%)
  5.  Brown (5.5%)
  6.  Penn (5.9%)
  7.  Dartmouth (6.2%)
  8.  Cornell (8.7%)

Perhaps just as important as the acceptance rates related to the eight Ivy League schools in the information about just how many high school students applied to each school this past application cycle.

Believe it or not, 2021 proved to be one of the hardest years to get into many different schools across the country in the history of those schools! Moreover, many schools saw the largest pools of applicants in the history of the institutions as well.

For Brown, a total of 46,568 students applied to the university, a jaw-droppingly high 27 percent increase from the previous year!

Logan Powell, the Dean of Admissions at Brown recently commented on the incredible uptick in applicants to Brown.

“Brown was incredibly fortunate to select its incoming class from a vast and deep pool of extraordinary applicants,” he said. “With prospective students bringing a diverse range of educational achievements, personal characteristics, and talents, our process remained human-focused.

We made individualized decisions about each student, we heard and read their stories, and we drew upon those stories to admit a Class of 2025 that is both academically superlative and contains an incredible array of perspectives.”

As you can see, just because there has been an uptick in applicants at Brown, the school’s incredibly high standards have not diminished one bit. Students looking to apply in 2022, 2023 and beyond can expect that they will continue to face lots of competition for spots at Brown.

Which may lead you to wonder how to get into Brown. After all, with such a low acceptance rate and such a high number of applicants, the prospect of applying at all can be somewhat overwhelming.

At AdmissionSight, we know that high school students face a lot of internal and external pressure to get into top schools.

While getting into a top school like Brown does not necessarily guarantee success later in life, it can certainly go a very long way in offering a student the kind of education, preparation, connections, and community that they need to earn that top job, get a spot at a prestigious grad school and advance their lives after undergraduate in other important ways.

So, what are the ways to get into Brown University? Consider the following tips to improve your chances at Brown and all the other top schools both within and outside of the Ivy League.

How to improve your chances of getting into Brown University

As it turns out, there are actually quite a few different strategies that high school students can pursue in order to improve their chances of getting into a top school like Brown.

As you read these different options, it will become clear to you that some are really only possible if you are still fairly early on in your high school years.

For other tips, they are made to help students with getting into Brown if they are already in the process of completing and sending in their applications. Of course, you should really only be considering the tips that apply to you and your own academic journey.

Earn great grades and standardized test scores

This might seem like an obvious “tip” for students who are looking to get into top schools like Brown, but it is so important that we thought we would start out with it.

To be clear, a student’s GPA is the most important thing when it comes to getting into top schools. However, it should not be considered a key all on its own.

Think of it this way: fantastic grades won’t get you into a school like Brown on their own, but bad grades can certainly keep you out. The same can be said for SAT and ACT scores. These days, schools have adopted a standardized test-optional policy as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Shaded answer sheet and a pencil on top of it.

Still, AdmissionSight encourages our students to take either the SAT or ACT if they are able to do so safely. Ultimately, the goal is to prove to admissions officers that you have what it takes to excel at the school. Great grades and test scores can go a long way in proving that.

Become a leader in your community

Whether you are looking to become a leader in your extracurriculars, academic competition teams you are a part of, your school’s government, or anything in between, you are going to want to make it clear that you aimed to lead positively by example.

Earn leadership roles in the groups you commit your time and energy to and do whatever you can to gain recognition, win awards and stand out from the crowd!

Form a relationship with the school

One great way to improve your chances of getting into Brown is to form a relationship with the school and make it clear that you are exactly what the school is looking for in terms of future students. One fantastic way is to take part in the optional alumni interview process.

With this, you will get to speak with an alumni of the school, have them ask you questions and ask them questions yourself. If they can vouch for you and say that you are Brown material, that will certainly help your chances.

A handshake between two individuals.

Moreover, if you already have a relationship with the school by way of legacy, you will definitely want to mention that in your application. Legacy means that someone in your family (ideally a parent or grandparent) went to Brown to get their education.

The Ivies heavily value legacy and the school reports that somewhere between 10 and 12 percent of its current students are legacy students! So, if you have a history of attending Brown in your family, make it a point to mention that in order to gain a small admissions advantage.

Earn wonderful letters of recommendation

Brown University – and all the other Ivies for that matter – put a heavy emphasis on the letters of recommendation that they receive from the students that apply to the school. To apply to Brown, students have to send in two separate letters from members of their high school’s faculty and then one letter from their high school counselor.

Making sure that you are doing what you can to form positive and deep relationships with your faculty during your high school years will help broaden your options when it comes time to actually ask the two teachers who you want to write your letters.

When it comes to how to choose the teachers, you should prioritize teachers that you have good relationships with. Ideally, you will have taken many of their classes.

On top of that, these teachers should have been instances in which you overcame odds, served as a leader in your class, and had a positive impact on those around you. That will guarantee that you receive the best letters possible. Moreover, make sure you ask your teachers with ample heads up so that they have the time that they need to write the best letters possible.

Dedicate your time to your personal essays

For the final tip, we think it is very important that we mention the personal essay section of the application. Without a doubt, personal essays have become a crucial part of the admissions process.

These days, there are many schools that actually consider personal essays to be the second most important factor when looking at an applicant behind only that student’s GPA. For that reason, you are going to want to make sure that you consider the questions thoughtfully, write from the heart, and give yourself more than enough time to read, edit and improve the essays before sending them in.

A person's hand writing in spiral notebook placed on a wooden desk.

Remember, this is your chance to show the admissions officer reading your application who you are beyond the grades and test scores. Prove to them how unique, brilliant and passionate you really are!

We’ll teach you how to get into Brown

At AdmissionSight, we know how hard getting into Brown is. We also know that it is absolutely possible. That’s the kind of confidence that comes with getting 75 percent of the students that you work with into Ivy League schools or other top 10 schools across the country. If you want to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today to set up a free consultation.


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