6 Brown University Essays That Worked + Why Brown Essay

by Ryan ChiangUpdated Aug. 8, 2022

For students writing the Brown supplements for Fall 2022, here is your guide to successful Brown essays.

In this article, I've gathered 6 essays written by admitted students to Brown.

I'll share examples of how regular high-achieving students who got into Brown recently by having stand-out essays.

Are essays all that matter? No, but especially for competitive and test-optional schools, your essays are a very important factor.

Let's jump right in.

What is Brown University's Acceptance Rate?

This past year, a record 46,568 students applied to Brown and just 2,537 students got accepted. Which means Brown had an overall admit rate of just 5.4%.

Since its known as a top Ivy League school, most students applying to Brown already have strong test scores, grades, and extracurricular activities.

Brown University Acceptance Scattergram

That's why its even more important to write essays that help show why you should be accepted.

Especially for Ivy League and other top schools like Brown, your essays make a difference.

What are the Brown Supplemental Prompts for 2022-23?

To apply to Brown University this year, you are required to write three short essays of 50 to 250 words each.

You can find your Brown writing supplement along with your Common Application essays on your portal.

Here's the Brown supplemental prompts for 2022. The questions on this page are being asked by Brown University:

  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)

6 Brown University Essays That Worked

Here are 6 of my favorite Brown essay examples from admitted students.

These essays respond to past and current writing supplement prompts for Brown. I've also included some examples of personal statement essays that worked for Brown.

If you need help getting started writing, this is a perfect way to get inspired and see what's worked.

Prompt: Open Curriculum

Brown University Essay Example #1
Supplemental Essay

Prompt: 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)

My primary interest is in languages and linguistics, specifically Spanish, Portuguese and the descent of these languages from Latin which I explored in my IB Extended Essay. Thus, something that excites me about the complete freedom of the Brown curriculum is the opportunity to learn about Hispanic and Lusophone culture, literature and language in an intersectional way through a concentration in Latin American studies combined with classes and undergraduate research in Linguistics. I intend to supplement my language acquisition with practical application through study abroad opportunities at PUC-Rio, Brazil and in Santiago, Chile, perhaps through the Engaged Scholars Program which will allow me to forge deeper connections with the communities and cultures I am studying. I am also attracted by the possibility of a 5-year BA/MA course in Linguistics which will permit me to conduct meaningful and extensive research on a topic I am truly passionate about.

However, I also have an interest in Biochemistry and Molecular biology. The Open Curriculum will enable me to pursue this avenue of study and research without detracting from my principal focus on languages. Therefore, perhaps what I am most excited for is interdisciplinary study at Brown and the possibility of forging unforeseen connections between disparate academic areas and weaving them together into a program of study that will engage, thrill, and inspire me towards a lifelong path of academic inquiry. For example, I am interested to explore how languages and sociolinguistics can be used to promote medical research and provision in Latin America.

(250 / 250 words)

Why This Essay Works:
  • Lists Aspects Specific to Brown: Naming things unique to the school shows you have genuine interest. Listing specific programs, courses, or majors shows you've done your research.
  • Connects to Rest of Application: The author's reasons for "Why Brown?" fit into their background and identity. This makes their reasons seem genuine and compelling.
What They Might Change:
  • Organization and Structure: The essay is divided into two parts with distinct answers. Showing how those reasons relate could make the essay more cohesive.
  • Conclusion: Ending with a sentence "For example..." leaves more to be desired and explained.

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Prompt: Brown's Community

Brown University Essay Example #2
Supplemental Essay

Prompt: At Brown, you will learn as much from your peers outside the classroom as in academic spaces. How will you contribute to the Brown community? (200-250 words)

At my high school, I reinvigorated and reinvented the linguistics society with the help of a friend, transforming it from a dull discussion of past exam questions to a seminar-style session where I have presented and analysed various interesting aspects of language. In a similar vein, I intend to be a leader and an innovator at Brown, and to create opportunities for likeminded people to discuss shared interests such as linguistics. However, other than creating clubs, I hope to use my experience as a camp counselor and a diving coach to support others within the community, and to set a good example of dedication, energy, and compassion.

Additionally, I have volunteered as a Spanish teacher at a local primary school for three years. Volunteer service is something I would definitely like to continue to undertake at Brown, perhaps through the Community Corps that will allow me to help address social inequality within Providence, or as a teacher and classroom assistant in the Elementary Afterschool Mentoring program at D’Abate school. I can draw on my previous experience and knowledge to hopefully enrich the education of underprivileged children in the local community.

Finally, as an international student, I will bring an element of unique culture to Brown’s campus. Having grown up in the buzzing metropolis of London but visiting America frequently to see family, I have the privilege of a truly dual nationality, and the resultant worldview and cultural references that I hope will enrich the diverse Brown community.

(247 / 250 words)

Why This Essay Works:
  • Variety of Reasons Given: Providing multiple reasons for how you'll contribute shows you aren't one-dimensional. People are complex and showing nuance in your character is important.
  • Showcasing Past Experiences: With each point, the author gives examples from their activities and resume. Referencing specific extracurriculars helps build their case and is "proof" of how they'll contribute.
What They Might Change:
  • Flow and Writing Style: Listing activities can come off as robotic and uninteresting. Rather, try to find a balance between showing off your achievements and writing in an interesting way.
  • Structure: The last paragraph is most compelling because it deals with the author's personality and background, rather than just what they've done. Organizing the essay around your character is better than focusing solely on your achivements.

Prompt: Why Brown?

Brown University Essay Example #3
Supplemental Essay

Prompt: Why Brown, and why the Brown Curriculum? (200 words max)

I believe any college should equip you with tools as you embark upon your journey. Brown provides the necessary. That is what the capstone experience does (not to mention the importance of internships given to Brown Students). You can never know everything about anything. But quench the questions is exactly what the Capstone Experience fosters.

The Open Curriculum was obviously the first thing that caught my eye. In school, you are sometimes forced to take the subjects you don’t like. College shouldn’t be the same. It is supposed to be a fresh start and that is exactly why you should be allowed to take the courses that appeal to you. Here is where the S/NC option was interesting. Only if you know perspectives from all subjects, can you determine a solution; S/NC promotes this. Group Independent Study Projects is also unique. Getting into the course is something hard. But creating your own course is amusing.

I would love to be a part of The Society of Women Engineers because I had to fight with my own family to study Computer Science in the United States. If it means providing the help for people I wish I'd got, never better.

(199 / 200 words)

Why This Essay Works:
  • Ideas and Beliefs: Rather than just saying what aspects are appealing, the author explains why they are attracted to those things. By explaining your perspective, admissions officers are better able to understand your thinking and character.
  • Specific to Brown: Listing aspects that are unique to Brown is important to show your interest is authentic. By naming things like the Capstone Experience and S/NC, the author shows their knowledge of Brown and makes their reasons more compelling.
What They Might Change:
  • Writing Style: Some parts of the essay are clunky in wording and could be written more clearly. But the author is an international student, so it is understandable and not the end of the world.
  • Structure and Conclusion: There isn't a clear conclusion sentence that ties the essay together. How can you relate the last sentence to your beginning?
Applying To Other Ivies?
Check Out More Essays That Worked for Ivy League Schools
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Prompt: Area of Study

Brown University Essay Example #4
Supplemental Essay

Prompt: Why are you drawn to the area(s) of study you indicated? (150 words max)

There was a time when I was low and afraid to be with myself. That’s when I dived into programming. I always sat with my laptop. But unlike others on Instagram or Snapchat, I was coding. I always kept myself occupied so I wouldn’t think about hardships. But as I was solving those little Instantiation and StackOverflow errors, I realized that any problem in my life had a solution. I could either modify the code and right the wrong, or just keep compiling them, producing no output. So, life is not all that different. That is why I want to pursue Computer Science. I know I can work to keep myself happy. Inevitably, what makes me happy is Computer Science, which is what I want to pursue.

(127 / 150 words)

Why This Essay Works:
  • Intriguing Backstory: Telling a compelling story is about setting the scene. This essay creates vivid imagery by naming specific programming-related things.
  • Connects to Bigger Picture: Rather than just saying their major or interest, the author connects it to a more universal idea. Showing the deeper "why" behind your interests makes it relatable and more interesting.
What They Might Change:
  • Writing Style and Flow: Some words are unnecessary, and a few sentences could be made more smooth to read.
  • Doesn't Use the Full Word Limit: With 23 words left, the author could have included a sentence or two more. Every word is valuable with short word limits, so use them carefully.

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Brown University Essay Example #5
Supplemental Essay

Prompt: 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 words max)

I was born in California, USA. When I was about 7 months old, I moved to Bangalore, India. I've lived in Bangalore all my life, until two years ago. I started attending a boarding school, in the same state, but far away from my house. I chose to leave everything behind, even my phone, because I didn't want to be pampered. I wanted to fold my own blanket; to wipe my own tears; to carve my own name; to befriend people my way; to create my destiny. My parents weren't happy at first, but I convinced them.

(97 / 100 words)

Why This Essay Works:
  • Poetic Writing: Interesting writing comes from interesting ideas. And the second to last sentence especially is compelling because it expresses their ideas elegantly.
  • Answers Prompt Directly: For supplements especially, make sure to answer exactly what the prompt is asking.
What They Might Change:
  • Be More Concise: Use as few words as possible to say the most you can. Especially for short prompts like this one, every word matters.
  • Word Choice: Swapping out words like "house" for "home" can make the tone more natural.

Prompt: Communities and Groups

Brown University Essay Example #6
Supplemental Essay

Prompt: Communities or groups: pick one and tell us why it is important to you, and how it has shaped you. (100 words max)

My dad lost his parents when he was young. My mom also quit her job to take care of me. So, if you look at it, she should loathe me. But she doesn’t. She has dedicated her whole life to me. That is why I want to provide a purpose to their lives. Every competition I won, even a small word of praise would lighten their mood. When I am happy they are euphoric; when I am sad they are distraught. It's like they (for)give and forget. So why not follow their footsteps and give it all I got?

(99 / 100 words)

Why This Essay Works:
  • Vulnerable and Authentic: Being vulnerable is an important part of great essays. Talking about sensitive, but real and human topics, makes you more relatable and humanized.
  • Explains What Motivates Them: Admissions officers want to know why you're driven to do things. Showing your "why" helps give insight into your character more deeply.
What They Might Change:
  • Doesn't Answer Prompt Directly: Make sure to answer exactly what the prompt asks. Although this essay explains their background and motivations, it doesn't answer the question exactly.

If you're trying to get into Brown in 2022, your essays need to make you stand out from the competition. These 6 Brown essays that worked showcase great examples of what it takes to get accepted into Brown.

There are many lessons and tips to be learned from these supplements:

  • Being authentic and genuine is key
  • Name aspects unique and specific to the school
  • Showcase your motivations and the "why" behind things
  • Don't be afraid to be vulnerable
  • Use every word carefully and make each word count

If you enjoyed reading these Brown supplements, you'll also like the essays for similar Ivy League schools like Princeton and Columbia University.

What did you think of these Brown essays?


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