Second Time Around: The Application, part I


“She doesn’t even go here!” Join me as I transition to life at Brown, and learn more about our fantastic campus through the ramblings of a recent transfer student. I’m Veronica Fletcher, a junior concentrating in Psychology & Hispanic Studies, and this is my Second Time Around.

Hey everyone, welcome back to Second Time Around! For starters, if you haven’t yet checked out my previous post on taking the big leap and deciding to transfer, feel free to do so here. Now on to the good stuff.

This week, I reached out to Brown’s Director of Transfer Admission (and unofficial world record-holder in the “Tallest Admissions Officer” category) Mr. Elisha Anderson. Together, he and I are going to provide you with some ideas on what Brown’s Admissions Office looks for in its transfer applicants, as well as a few general tips on the application process. This is Part 1: Across the Admissions Desk.

Here’s what Elisha had to say:

When we read transfer applicants, we’re aware that they don’t have as long a period at Brown to establish themselves.  Freshman have a year to adjust to the rigor of the college and to explore the curriculum before they need to start working earnestly on their concentration.  Transfers, by contrast, need to come in and hit the ground running. So we’re looking for students who take a proactive approach to their education.  We’re looking for students who are good at creating relationships with their professors.  We’re looking for a clear sense of academic focus and a realistic academic plan that can be completed in the 2-3 years that the student will be at Brown.

Academic excellence is clearly a big factor in any college admissions process. I think one of the hardest parts of my transfer process was staying academically motivated after I’d already decided I wanted to leave my school – as a potential transfer student, it can definitely be challenging to achieve those grades while you’re stuck in an environment where you don’t feel comfortable. Personally, I went through a period of deep depression at my previous school, where I didn’t feel like leaving my bed for weeks on end – but ultimately, I realized that in order to get out of there, I needed to show admissions committees that I could self-motivate and perform well under duress.

Full disclosure: I DID NOT HAVE A 4.0 MY FRESHMAN YEAR OF COLLEGE. I did not have a 4.0 in high school. And Brown still chose me.

Don’t let those Disneyland ads fool you – this is where the real magic happens.

I’m not claiming to be an expert here. I can only speak to my own impressions regarding this process. But as someone who’s been through this admissions game twice, I really do believe that Brown utilizes a much more holistic admissions approach than other comparable schools – meaning it’s about more than just the numbers. People often ask me what I think Brown looks for in its applicants: Impeccable transcripts? A 2400 on the SAT? Glamorous summer internships and a thousand-hour community service log? When asked, I always respond with the same three traits: openness, drive, and a deep passion for learning.

Like Elisha said, Brown is looking to welcome transfers students who are proactive about their education and ready to tackle the Open Curriculum.

Transfers are also entering an entirely new community and we recognize that part of their happiness in college stems from their ability to integrate into an existing social fabric.  So we are looking for transfers who have some obvious point of entry into Brown’s social scene, usually through a well-developed extracurricular interest. It also helps if the student seems socially gregarious.

This is another important point – admissions officers need to be able to infer a sense of your character from the limited information they receive. The big Common App question for transfers is essentially “Why do you want to transfer?” – unlike the questions you answered as a freshman applicant, questions for transfers tend to be much more directed towards, well, transferring. This pointedness and lack of choice can be a bit intimidating – as an applicant, one of my biggest concerns was finding the space to allow my my personality and story to come across in my writing. We’ll be talking about this next week in Part 2: The Essay.

Thanks for reading! If you have thoughts or questions about this blog post, or any other aspect of the transfer experience, please feel free to email me at, or leave a comment in the box below!


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