Brown Essays Examples
If you’re applying to Brown University, reading Brown essays examples can help you begin to craft your own supplements. The Brown supplemental essays are a critical part of the admissions process. In this guide, we’ll look at several Brown essays examples and describe what made them stand out.
Brown is an Ivy League school, ranked #13 nationally by U.S. News & World Report. Located in Providence, Rhode Island, Brown is one of the most competitive schools in the nation. Like our Brown supplemental essay examples, your Brown supplemental essays should tell the Brown admissions team what makes you unique. They should also highlight why you would be a great addition to the “ever-changing tapestry that is Brown University.”
In this guide, we’ll first review the Brown application requirements. Then, we’ll dive into some Brown essays examples that worked, including some Brown university open curriculum essay examples, Why Brown essay examples, and a why this major essay example. We’ll also offer more tips on how to write Brown supplemental essays.
How many essays does Brown University require?
According to their website, Brown requires three different supplemental essays. These prompts shift over the years but often cover similar topics. We’ll go over many different types of Brown essays examples to ensure you have all the guidance you need.
In this guide to Brown essays examples, we’ll go over Brown’s different essay prompts and how to answer them. We’ll look at some Brown university open curriculum essay examples, which are unique to Brown. Additionally, we’ll look at some extracurricular essay examples from admitted students. You’ll find this type of essay prompt on a lot of college applications.
Before we get into the Brown essays examples, let’s go over the prompts for the Brown university supplemental essays.
What are the Brown University essay prompts?
Here are the prompts for the Brown University supplemental essays:
1. Brown’s Open Curriculum allows students to explore broadly while also diving deeply into their academic pursuits. Tell us about any academic interests that excite you, and how you might use the Open Curriculum to pursue them while also embracing topics with which you are unfamiliar. (200-250 words)
2. Brown’s culture fosters a community in which students challenge the ideas of others and have their ideas challenged in return, promoting a deeper and clearer understanding of the complex issues confronting society. This active engagement in dialogue is as present outside the classroom as it is in academic spaces. Tell us about a time you were challenged by a perspective that differed from your own. How did you respond? (200-250 words)
3. Brown students care deeply about their work and the world around them. Students find contentment, satisfaction, and meaning in daily interactions and major discoveries. Whether big or small, mundane or spectacular, tell us about something that brings you joy. (200-250 words)
Keep in mind that the Brown supplemental essays change year to year. So, some of the Brown essays examples below might not align perfectly with these prompts.
However, regardless of whether the Brown essays examples reflect these prompts, they can still help you craft your own college essays. So, use these Brown essays examples to help you address any Brown supplemental essays you might encounter.
While we don’t have Brown supplemental essay examples for each question, this guide will include essays that address all of these major themes. These include Brown university open curriculum essay examples, essays about community, extracurricular essays, and other types of Brown supplemental essays.
Brown Supplemental Essay Examples #1 – Why Major
We’ve covered some of the basics about the Brown university supplemental essays. Next, let’s dive into the first of our Brown essays examples.
This essay prompt focuses on your intended major or academic path at Brown. This type of essay is pretty common among college applications. So, you’ll likely find a similar prompt in one of the Brown university supplemental essays.
1. Why are you drawn to the area(s) of study you indicated earlier in this application? If you are “undecided” or not sure which Brown concentrations match your interests, consider describing more generally the academic topics or modes of thought that engage you currently. (150 word limit)
Brown Essays Examples #1
A Brown liberal arts education will let me combine my separate academic passions together, which makes me excited to enter undecided. Currently, I am interested in Brown’s International Relations program, where I hope to use an interdisciplinary approach to study modern global issues. I’m drawn to understanding the economic systems in Latin American nations that are in the midst of political turmoil, such as the controversy behind Colombia’s guerrillas. I’m also interested in the ethnic and religious conflicts in underdeveloped Asian nations, particularly through the lens of sociology and politics. In addition, I hope to take “Politics of Globalization” because I’m curious to see how the natural resources in third world countries are used by wealthier nations like the United States. Finally, as an IR student, I will have the privilege of concentrating in Latin American Studies in order to further understand the global aspects of my Hispanic culture.
Why this essay worked
Like any good why this major essay example, this paragraph conveys three main points. First, what would you like to study? Secondly, why would you like to study it? And third, why would you specifically like to study this at Brown?
Students often know the answer to the first question but haven’t given much thought to the second or third. In the first of our Brown supplemental essays examples, our student highlights their interest in many global issues. Then, they get specific about what issues fascinate them the most. They also communicate their desire to pursue Latin American Studies and learn more about their own culture.
Centering what Brown offers
The most compelling part of the first of our Brown essays examples answers the third question: why would you like to study this at Brown? As a liberal arts school, Brown is a great fit for a student who wants an interdisciplinary education. This student lists specific Brown majors, like International Relations, and a specific class name. In this, the writer highlights that they’ve done thorough research into the school. This is a great way to show the Brown admissions committee that you’re invested in Brown over other colleges.
This Brown essays example is short and to the point. Since you only have 150 words, you want to make sure that every single one counts. So, every word of your Brown University supplemental essays should highlight who you are and why you want to attend Brown.
Remember, you don’t have to be 100% sure about your intended major when you apply. In fact, our Brown essays examples show how you can talk about multiple interests without seeming indecisive or unfocused. Even if you’re undecided, you should at least list some Brown majors to show that you’ve done your research.
Let’s move on to the next of our Brown essays examples: the why Brown essay examples.
Why Brown Essay Examples
The Why Brown essay examples are some of the most important Brown supplemental essay examples to understand. We’re including a why school essay example because most colleges ask for an essay in this style. So, you can use our why Brown essay examples to help you tackle a variety of similar prompts.
Historically, Brown has had two slightly different prompts. In this Brown essays examples guide, we’re going to include both options for our why Brown essay examples. These include the Brown University open curriculum essay examples and a classic why school essay example.
2. Why Brown, and why the Brown Curriculum? (200 Word limit)
Why Brown Essay Examples
As I walked down the Main Green, the tour guide explained that Brown students were advocating for low-income applicants to obtain a fee-waiver. Hearing this showed me what the Brown community values. The community I was raised in didn’t emphasize higher education, and most of the people I grew up with ended up dropping out of school. Thus, I plan to participate at the First Generation and Low Income Student Center by serving as a mentor to students who also once felt that college was impossible.
Brown’s Open Curriculum motivates me to see courses not as a requirement, but as a chance to be in a classroom filled with genuine excitement. I’ll use my independent nature and open-mindedness to explore classes like “Film and the Third Reich,” combining my love for cinema and history. Brown will expose me to diverse intellectual topics outside of my concentration—I can already picture myself taking French at Marston Hall and walking to Robinson Hall for Econometrics.
As a first-generation student, I must not only represent myself on campus, but my parents and my cultural background as well. At Brown, I know I will be able to represent my community.
Why did this essay work?
The first of our why Brown essay examples answers the more detailed prompt: Why Brown, and why the Brown curriculum? Our Brown University open curriculum essay examples are specific to Brown and its offerings.
The Brown curriculum is unique among Ivy League schools. Brown has an “open curriculum,” which means that instead of requiring core classes or subjects, Brown students can shape their whole education. This essay is one of our Brown University open curriculum essay examples. It makes it clear that the student not only understands this unique curriculum, but also knows how they would take advantage of it.
Like many strong Brown essays examples, this essay begins with an anecdote of the student touring Brown. This is a good rhetorical device—always incorporate a hook at the beginning of your essay if you have space. Moreover, this anecdote proves that the student has invested time and interest in going to Brown. They’ve been on the tour, they’ve learned about the open curriculum, and they know which buildings have French classes and which have econometrics.
In #2 of our why Brown essays examples, this student also speaks to their upbringing and heritage. Remember, your supplements are one of the only ways that the Brown admissions committee can learn who you are. So, the more that you can tell them in 200 words, the better.
Next, we have another of our why Brown essay examples. This one is more straightforward:
3. Why Brown? (150 word limit)
Why Brown Essay Examples
Brown’s open curriculum, along with its great emphasis on interdisciplinary concentrations is unique among universities: As a student interested in courses like NEUR 1740, The Diseased Brain: Mechanisms of Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders and ANTH 0300: Culture and Health from two seemingly unrelated concentrations, I would love to take the opportunity to explore widely as an undergrad at Brown. Doing research under professors like Dr. Mason, exploring anthropological viewpoints in class and looking at the stigma surrounding HIV testing in Taiwanese/Chinese culture would allow me to draw upon my own cultural experience.
The cultural and social nexus also fits issues I encountered at Teen Line; callers talked about their own community’s condemnation about LGBTQ identity. The attention to social issues found at Brown will become my home away from liberal California where I can speak to mental health issues in various cultures.
Why did this essay work?
The third of our Brown essays examples also mentions Brown’s open curriculum. So, as you’ve likely realized, the open curriculum is an important part of what makes Brown unique.
Whenever you write a “why school” essay, make sure to do as much research as possible. Read their whole website, look up classes and majors, research professors and see what research they’ve published, and look for any interesting clubs or organizations. As of our Brown University open curriculum essay examples, this essay highlights a key feature of Brown’s educational ethos.
Like our other Brown essays examples, this essay highlights the writer’s cultural background. They weave this fact into their academic interests: it’s clear that they care about how culture affects mental health and psychology. Moreover, they even found a specific professor whose work speaks to issues that affect their culture.
Before we move on to other Brown essays examples, let’s recap some main takeaways from our why Brown essay examples.
- Do your research! The Brown admissions team wants to know that you have put as much effort into researching their school as they have into reading your application.
- These are why Brown essay examples, but they should also tell Brown why you belong on campus. It’s not enough to say “Brown has a strong literature program.” Instead, you should explain what you would do in that program and why you want to participate in it.
- Use any opportunity you can to tell the admissions committee something they haven’t learned about you yet. For instance, maybe the author of one of the above Brown essays examples listed that they worked at Teen Line on their extracurriculars. However, their Brown supplemental essays can explain why they’re interested in mental health, what they experienced at Teen Line, and how they would develop that interest at Brown. So, use your Brown University supplemental essays to expand on the key parts of your profile.
Next, let’s move on to some other Brown essays examples.
Brown Essay Examples
The next of our Brown essays examples asks about your background and upbringing. This essay is a chance for you to tell the Brown admissions committee something about you. This should include where you grew up, what your values are, and how you developed them.
4. Tell us where you have lived – and for how long – since you were born; whether you’ve always lived in the same place, or perhaps in a variety of places. (100 word limit)
Brown Essay Example
The tiny apartment I live in is one of many that crowd a small Hispanic neighborhood called Jackson Heights in Queens, NY. Being NYC born and raised has influenced my image of the ideal, inclusive community. The world recognizes New York for its beautiful skyscrapers, but I see beauty in busy streets and endless ethnic diversity. The little things most tourists won’t pay attention to—the subways filled with diverse commuters, the people protesting at Union Square, the Dominican bodegas on every corner—are the parts I cherish most. While visitors watch the Empire State Building, I watch all the working people.
Why this essay worked
Wow– in only 100 words, the fourth of our Brown essays examples tells us so much about who this student is!
Though this prompt in the Brown essays examples seems like a simple question, this student understood that the admissions committee doesn’t really care about your address or the color of your bedroom. Instead, Brown wants to learn about the way your childhood home has affected you.
Telling your story
This student tells a story in a very short space. Their New York isn’t the same as the tourists’ New York. The beauty of the city isn’t due to its shiny facade, but because of the people in it. The last sentence summarizes the essay beautifully, contrasting what tourists watch with what the student notices.
The fourth of our Brown essays examples also touches on how the student’s upbringing has led them to desire an inclusive community. Colleges often represent themselves as havens of inclusivity. Many of them also include essay questions that speak to community or diversity. Even if the college doesn’t ask explicitly about those qualities, your essay should still reflect your chosen university’s values. You can find these values on schools’ websites or in other official communications.
Now, let’s move on to other Brown supplemental essay examples. Still, note that many tips we’ve covered can apply to your Brown University supplemental essays regardless of the prompt!
Brown Supplemental Essay Examples
For the fifth of our Brown supplemental essay examples, we’ll read about community. Many colleges have supplemental essay prompts that ask about community. So, as you read, think about how this essay could be altered to fit a prompt from another school!
5. We all exist within communities or groups of various sizes, origins, and purposes; pick one and tell us why it is important to you, and how it has shaped you. (100 word limit)
Brown Supplemental Essay Example
I’ve watched an endless cycle of girls trade in their cap and gown for baby strollers, leaving behind their education. These circumstances inspired me to become a mentor for younger girls through the nonprofit Powerplay NYC, which helps girls from under-resourced neighborhoods through health and fitness. This experience taught me that I’m capable of guiding these girls through the trials of life. Higher education will transform me into the Michelle Obama they need; I want to inspire girls to never lose sight of their own potential. If anything, I don’t want to prosper despite my background, but because of it.
Why this essay worked
Okay, fine, our question about the next of our Brown supplemental essay examples was a bit of a trick. In fact, you’ll notice that this student does not mention Brown once in this essay!
This is a risky move for Brown university supplemental essays. However, if the essay is strong enough, you can pull this off. Notably, this one of our Brown supplemental essay examples is also quite short. If you only have 100 words, you don’t always need to discuss the school.
This student explains how watching girls in her community leave education due to pregnancy has not only inspired her to pursue an education herself, but also to give back to her community. A college education would allow her to be the mentor she believes her community needs.
Note that in this Brown supplemental essays example, this student doesn’t specify the exact “community” she’s talking about or go into extreme detail about her job at Powerplay NYC. The prompt only allows for 100 words, and she doesn’t have any to waste. In a longer version of this essay, this student might include more detail and be more specific about how Brown would help her achieve her goals. But with only 100 words, you have to prioritize the most important parts of the story.
The next of our Brown supplemental essay examples is about extracurricular activities. This type of essay prompt is very common. So, read on to see why these extracurricular activities essay examples worked.
Brown Essay Examples – Extracurricular Activity Essay
You might not need to answer this question for your Brown application. However, reading extracurricular activities essay examples can be very useful for your other college applications. This one of our Brown supplemental essay examples puts you right in the shoes of a student working in a Museum.
6. Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150 word limit)
Brown Extracurricular Activity Essay Example
Set up the microscope. Pick up the bacteria slides. Keep every station clean. These tasks ran through my head every Saturday during junior year, when I interned at the American Museum of Natural History. I was responsible for setting up carts and speaking to the public about each cart’s purpose. Each cart had a unique topic ranging from “Biodiversity” to “Advanced Mammals.” My favorite was “Living in Water” because I used a biological microscope to view snails and zooplankton while teaching visitors how marine life connected to today’s ocean pollution. I was impressed by each visitor—from the 5-year-old boy who knew all about Saturn to the foreign exchange student from Argentina who was studying microbiology—because they all shared their passions with me. This experience has influenced me to explore my intellectual curiosity in college so that I can one day share my passions with others as well.
Why this essay worked
The next of our Brown supplemental essay examples does a great job of something that you’ve probably heard about from your English teachers: showing, not telling.
Instead of saying “I always helped set up the microscope at my job at the museum,” the student puts you directly into their head: “Set up the microscope. Pick up the bacteria slides. Keep every station clean.” These brief, instructive phrases draw the reader into these Brown supplemental essay examples and make them want to learn more about this student’s experience.
The writer of our Brown supplemental essay examples also connects this anecdote not only to an academic interest but to their intellectual curiosity overall. As you might have seen in the Brown University open curriculum essay examples, Brown specifically prides itself on students forging a creative academic path. This is a great example of how to write Brown supplemental essays compared to other college essays.
Now that we’ve gone over some Brown supplemental essay examples, let’s zoom out a bit. Sure, you might write an essay so strong it ends up as one of our Brown University open curriculum essay examples. But, how much does Brown care about supplemental essays?
Does Brown care about supplemental essays?
You’ve read and analyzed all of these Brown supplemental essay examples, but does Brown even care about supplemental essays? The short answer is yes.
Your application will have many different components. There’s your Common App essay, your extracurricular list, your grades and test scores, and your letters of recommendation. The admissions committee will look at your application holistically: this means that they’ll consider all aspects of the application.
The Brown website states that the most important part of your application is your academic standing in high school. However, this doesn’t mean that the Brown supplemental essays aren’t important—or that you shouldn’t take the time to read Brown university essay examples.
These Brown University essay examples demonstrate many different ways to weave your life story and your values into your responses. Even if the essays aren’t the most important part of your Brown application, they provide you an opportunity to distinguish yourself from other applicants. After all, if two students have similar grades and scores, their essays can make a major difference in terms of who makes the cut.
How to write standout Brown essays?
In our guide to Brown University essay examples, you’ve seen how other students have written stellar Brown essays. But how can you use what you learned in these Brown University essay examples to figure out how to get into Brown?
First, make sure that just like in these Brown university essay examples, you use impeccable spelling and grammar. This is a pretty basic ask, but you’ll notice that all these Brown University essay examples have that in common! Read your essay out loud, have a parent or a friend read it, or use an online grammar checker to make sure your syntax is flawless.
Another tactic you can use to make your essays stand out is also pretty simple: be true to who you are! It’s corny, but each college class is made up of individuals. The students that wrote these Brown University essay examples might not have won Nobel Prizes or been featured on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, but they were introspective about what makes them unique. Moreover, as our Brown University essay examples reflect, these students were honest and vulnerable in communicating that to the admissions committee.
Remember: the authors of these Brown university essay examples are students just like you. If you write well-structured essays that share your story with the admissions committee, you might end up on our next list of Brown University essay examples that worked.
More CollegeAdvisor resources about Brown University
Aside from our guide on Brown university essay examples that worked, CollegeAdvisor has many other resources that can help you learn how to get into Brown—including this guide on how to do just that!
If you want to learn more about the questions behind these Brown University essay examples, check out our guide on the Brown supplemental essays. Along with Brown University essay examples, this guide will go into more detail on the essay prompts, application information, deadlines, and the Brown PLME essays.
The Brown PLME essays are prompts that students can use to apply Brown’s unique baccalaureate-MD program—the only one in the Ivy League. Brown also has special essay prompts for students who want to apply to a dual degree for Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design. Check out our guide to these more specialized Brown university essay examples here.
Webinars and other application resources
For more advice on completing your Brown application outside of Brown University essay examples, we have webinars featuring recent alumni and admissions officials who can answer any questions you might have. If these Brown University essay examples made you curious about other Ivy League collegess, you can learn more about the Ivies here!
So you’ve read the Brown University essay examples, written some stellar supplements, applied to Brown, and been accepted. Congratulations! Before you get to campus, read our guide on making the most of your first year at Brown, or this one on Brown’s incredible English major.
Brown Essay Examples – 5 Takeaways
Now that we’ve reached the end of our guide, you should have a better idea of how to write Brown supplemental essays. Here are our five main takeaways on how to write Brown supplemental essays:
Five key takeaways for writing Brown supplemental essays
#1- Write to the prompt
Even though the Brown University supplemental essays change year to year, there are common themes that you can write about in your essays. These include community, extracurriculars, your upbringing, and your academic pursuits. Our why Brown essay examples and why major essay examples are common features of other college essay prompts as well.
#2- Be personal and detailed
Use these supplemental essays as a way to tell the admissions committee something they don’t already know about you. There’s only so much someone can understand about who you are from your GPA—don’t be afraid to be introspective and honest!
#3- Do your research
Always make your essays specific to the school—our Brown University open curriculum essay examples exemplify how important it is to do your research on the school and convey how the Brown majors specifically will be a good fit for you.
#4- Think about the structure of your essay
Keep structure in mind: weave in anecdotes, start your essay with a hook, and make sure to have impeccable spelling and grammar.
#5- Be concise
Many of these supplemental essay questions have very low word limits. So, be intentional about what points of your story are the most crucial for the admissions committee to know.
After reading these Brown essays examples, we hope you have a better understanding of how to write Brown supplemental essays. Good luck!
This article was written by advisor, Rachel Kahn. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.