As one of the top colleges in the nation, admission into Brown University is extremely competitive. Below are an accepted Common App essay and supplements for Brown University written by a real student who was accepted by Brown. The writing portion of college applications is becoming increasingly important in order to stand out, so we'll be taking a look at what made these essays and supplements a successful portion of the application in the analysis sections.
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Brown Common App Personal Statement #1Written by Shena Durai Verified Real Acceptance
Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? (250-650 words)
If you are not the first, you are one of the rest. I always thought this was the key to happiness. Even when I was an infant, my mom used to say that I chose the people who could carry me. There were only two people: my mom and my sister, not even my dad.
Growing up, I always wanted to be the best in everything. And I was for the most part. I have a bunch of certificates: first in elocution competition, debates, patriotic song competitions, fancy dress, story narration, top 1% in the Macmillan math Olympiad, etc. In all the parent-teacher meetings, every teacher would say that my parents were blessed to have such a child and no one else stood a chance.
Everything went great until I came second in the fifth grade in the annual examination. I just could not admit that I got defeated, that someone else was better than me. As the middle school period is when “who is the prettiest girl in class” came up, I lost there as well. Since that mattered a lot during the puberty stage, that cost me my confidence. I stopped talking to my friends because I thought they had this perception of me being ugly. It went to such an extent that I thought my parents felt the same way, so I’d never let them attend the parent-teacher meetings. I stopped participating in many activities.
Then the ultimate burst: my sister, the one whom I’d let hold me, moved to the United States. That was the rock bottom; I felt so lonely and lost. I just isolated myself because I felt so insecure. I was afraid to be with myself. Still, I lingered on and immersed myself in something I knew I was good at and did not have to be social: academics. Then came the eighth grade. This was the most crucial period of my life. Just keep reading and you’ll know why.
This was when I was introduced to programming, and since I was always inclined to problem-solving and logical analysis, I was fascinated. When I could solve the problems my tutor gave me, I felt like I was solving problems in my real life and started to regain control (as I was when I was a baby). That’s how my passion for programming started. I delved further into this. This made me come out of that pitch-black pit. In my tenth-grade board exam, I was one among the few to get the perfect score in computer science. But I wasn’t ready to let this go after the tenth grade. I gave up a relaxed life for the Android development classes during my tenth-grade summer vacations.
When I published my first app in the Google play store, I realized that this was the happiest I had ever been. So, does it make you happy if you are the best at everything? When was I the happiest— when I was the best at everything or when I was programming? The truth is that the former happiness was fleeting. It was for those few words of my teachers or my peers, but the latter was real. It’s true, that was harder to achieve but when I did come past all those little runtime errors and crashes, it made my day. So, the answer to the question is ‘no’. What makes you happy is you pursuing your passion.
The outcome: my attitude towards life changed. Nothing could pull me down anymore. Even if I didn’t top my class, I was happy because I knew my happiness was independent. The sheer spirit of chasing my dreams makes me happy. I will work hard to achieve them. You create your own destiny.
Brown Supplements and Short Answers #1Written by Shena Durai Verified Real Acceptance
Why are you drawn to the area(s) of study you indicated?
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.
Why Brown, and why the Brown Curriculum?
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.
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.
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.
Communities or groups: pick one and tell us why it is important to you, and how it has shaped you.
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?