How to Write the Brown Supplemental Essays

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

How to Write the Brown Supplemental EssaysBrown is at the top of plenty of students’ best-fit lists, so it’s no surprise that most prospective applicants want to do everything they can to stand out in their applications. While grades and course rigor carry the most weight in admissions decisions, students also need to write compelling essays that demonstrate their interest in attending the college.

In addition to the personal statement, students must prioritize the Brown University supplemental essays when compiling their application. Keep reading to learn more about the supplemental essays that Brown requires, as well as what it takes to write a top-tier personal statement.

What Essays Does Brown Require?

Like most colleges, Brown University requires applicants to submit a personal statement as part of the Common Application. Students can choose from the Common Apps’ list of prompts and compose a response of approximately 650 words.

Brown University has a series of supplemental essays that students must answer in addition to the required Common App essay. For first-year applicants, there are three questions, and each response should be approximately 200-250 words. For students applying to Brown’s Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME), there are also three questions, two with a 250-word maximum and one with a 500-word maximum. Finally, Brown|RISD Dual Degree applicants must answer one question with a 650-word limit.

2022-2023 Brown Supplemental Essays – Analyzed

The Brown University supplemental essays may change from year to year, which is why it’s so important for students to stay up to date on current application requirements. If you’re wondering, what does Brown University look for? Know that writing compelling essay responses is certainly a key part of the equation.

For the 2022-2023 academic year, Brown’s supplementary essay prompts for first-year and transfer applicants are as follows:

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)

Like most colleges, Brown University will affirm applicants with a demonstrated passion in specific subjects or fields. This essay gives students an opportunity to write about what interests them most and pinpoint specific Brown University courses that may help them further their expertise in the subjects in which they are passionate. It’s important to note the duality of this question: in addition to subjects you already know and love, make sure to include some fields you are currently unfamiliar with but look forward to learning more about.

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) 

Take some time to reflect and think carefully before responding to this question. To make the most of this Brown University supplemental essay, students will need to reference a specific time in which they encountered a viewpoint that was different from theirs. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate intellectual curiosity and an eagerness to explore multiple perspectives.

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)

Don’t think that you have to write about your biggest accomplishment to compile a strong response to this question; how you analyze and grow from the concept that brings you joy is much more important than the actual thing itself. Whether it’s greeting your neighbors as a local grocery store cashier or watching your community garden grow, strive to pick something that has had a positive impact on your community at large.

Students applying to the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) must also complete three essays using the following prompts:

Committing to a future career as a physician while in high school requires careful consideration and self-reflection. How do you feel your personal background provides you with a unique perspective of medicine? (250 word limit)

This essay gives students an opportunity to let their passion for a future medical career shine. Use it to articulate what excites you about the profession, what has inspired you to pursue this track, and the impact you hope to make in the future.

Health care is constantly changing, as it is affected by racial and social disparities, economics, politics, and technology, among others. How will you, as a future physician, make a positive impact? (250 word limit) 

Admissions officers want to get a clear picture of exactly what type of impact you’re going to make and what you will bring to the medical profession. Make sure you emphasize what makes you unique and the kind of mark you intend to make on campus.

How do you envision the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) helping you to meet your academic, personal and professional goals as a person and as a physician of the future? (250 word limit) 

The best responses will touch on each of the components addressed in the prompt: academic, personal, and professional goals. This is a chance to reveal something more about yourself outside of your ambition to pursue a medical career and demonstrate more of your personality to the admissions office.

For students applying to Brown’s Dual Degree Program with Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), there is one additional required prompt:

The Brown|RISD Dual Degree Program draws on the complementary strengths of Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) to provide students with the opportunity to explore diverse spheres of academic and creative inquiry, culminating in a capstone project that interrelates the content, approaches, and methods from two distinct learning experiences. 

Based on your understanding of the academic programs at Brown and RISD and the possibilities created by the BRDD program’s broadened learning community, specifically describe how and why the BRDD program would constitute an optimal undergraduate education for you. As part of your answer, be sure to articulate how you might contribute to the Dual Degree community and its commitment to interdisciplinary work. (650 word limit)

Since the Brown|RISD Dual Degree Program is a very specialized academic offering, students need to make sure that their response to this question is equally tailored. The strongest responses will articulate how the student will take advantage of both Brown and RISD courses and the impact they will have across both campuses.

Brown Supplemental Essays Examples

Need some inspiration for what successful Brown supplemental essays look like? Check out the following example below that was written by an IvyWise student who was accepted:

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)

In 10th grade, I was cast as a chorus member in my school’s production, Les Misérables. I’d never performed before, so while my experienced castmates clustered near the stage during our first rehearsal, I lingered in the back of the theater. But our female lead shocked me with her soaring voice as she sang “I Dreamed a Dream.” As I inched closer to the stage to join the cast for the next number, I felt less intimidated and more grateful to perform alongside such talented peers.

Moments like these motivated me to improve myself. Though I’d never sung before, I practiced diligently. Dancing, too, was scary at first, but memorizing each intricate choreography soon felt like a triumph shared with my castmates. I even rehearsed walking in my “character shoes:” heels which, when paired with a corset and a ballgown, made dancing a formidable challenge.

Yet the joy of exploring new modes of expression with friends was rivaled by the rewarding experience of performing Les Miserables live. As opening night drew nearer, I grew nervous, but my doubts subsided as my castmates crept silently onto the darkened stage. The band struck the opening notes, and our voices swelled from the stage as one, engulfing the tiny theater in song.

In that moment, it felt like so much more than just a school play: we were living this story of inspiring unity, revolutionary resistance, and personal redemption. This experience cemented my love for all forms of storytelling, from page to stage.

3 Tips on How to Write a Great Brown Supplemental Essay

If you want to write Brown supplemental essays that will help you stand out from the pack like the examples above, there are a few tips to keep in mind, including:

Use Your Own Voice

Many students mistakenly believe that the best essays are those that sound “academic” or use impressive words. While an expansive vocabulary is always an advantage, what matters most is that the essay sounds authentic and reflects the voice of the student who is writing it. Prioritize writing the same way you speak so that the admissions office gets a deeper sense of who you are as a person.

Strive for Authenticity

Admissions officers read hundreds, if not thousands, of these essays each year. As a result, they’ve become experts at distinguishing fact from fiction and will be able to tell who is sincere in their Brown supplemental essays. Instead of trying to guess what you think you should say, focus on writing statements that genuinely represent your thoughts, beliefs, and goals for the future.

Have Someone Else Read Your Essay

One of the best essay writing tips for students, regardless of what they’re working on, is to have someone else review their work once completed. Even the most careful writers might miss a typo or fail to see a minor grammatical error. Having another set of eyes can help ensure that your supplemental essays are coherent and free of errors.

How to Ensure Your Place at Brown University?

Applying to Brown University? First and foremost, you should know what Brown looks for in its applicants. IvyWise’s team of experts are here to help! Contact us today to learn how Ivywise can help you secure your place at Brown with our college admissions services.

Related Topics

Choosing a College, College Application Tips, College Essays

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