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How to Respond to the 2023/2024 Brown Supplemental Essay Prompts

Brown University is a private Ivy League research university located in Providence, Rhode Island. Brown is an extremely selective and prestigious university with an acceptance rate of around 6%. In order to apply, students must complete four Brown supplemental essays.

Before answering the Brown supplemental essays, figure out if Brown is the right fit for you! Spend some time assessing whether Brown is “the place” to spend the next four years. Once you’ve decided that Brown is right for you, it’s time to dig into Brown’s supplemental essay questions. Our guide to answering Brown University supplemental essay questions will help you get started!

Before answering the essay questions 

All Brown University applicants have to respond to three 200-250 word supplemental essays. 250 words is not a lot. Therefore, it is best to be direct and concise with your responses! To ensure you do not drag on, brainstorm! This will allow you to plan out responses carefully to fit your personality into your response without it being too long. 

If your response ends up being too long, try to get rid of filler or transition words. Give your essay to someone you trust to read it over to help get fresh eyes to eliminate words as well! 

Essay question #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 pursue them at Brown. (200-250 words)”

Through your research you should have discovered that Brown has something called an Open Curriculum. Essentially, there are not the stereotypical core classes that need to be completed at Brown but rather a more flexible and personalized curriculum. There is no set core class list that you must take. Meaning, if you don’t enjoy reading English literature, you may not have to take an English Lit class. 

Therefore, your response should show that you know this and are excited about it! This is one of the factors that makes Brown stand out from other schools.

Be sure to discuss what specifically you are excited to study using the open curriculum. Brown puts a lot of emphasis on their students choosing their own academic paths. Therefore, you need to specify how this freedom will allow you to prosper in your future goals. 

Think about what you plan on majoring in. How will this open curriculum allow you to gain knowledge on this topic? You need to demonstrate how invested in furthering your education you are. 

Questions to consider

  • What do you want to major in?
  • Why are you excited to attend a school that has an open curriculum? 
  • Why is learning new things important to you? 

Essay question #2

Students entering Brown often find that making their home on College Hill naturally invites reflection on where they came from. Share how an aspect of your growing up has inspired or challenged you, and what unique contributions this might allow you to make to the Brown community. (200-250 words)

Brown wants to accept students who constantly challenge themselves and their beliefs. Brown wants to see that you are comfortable with your ideas being challenged while attending their university. 

Think about how your unique upbringing has inspired or challenged you and how you can use what you learned moving forward. For example, has your upbringing in a family of religious faith been a positive part of your life? How so? Perhaps your experiences were the opposite in that you felt constrained. How will you contribute to the Brown community by reflecting upon your past experiences? In order to impress admissions officers at Brown, make sure you are being true to yourself. No matter what you talk about, show that you are open-minded and alright with listening to the ideas of others even if they differ from your own.

Questions to consider

  • How have you been challenged in the past? 
  • Have you ever changed your mind on a topic?
  • What is a topic you are passionate about? 

Essay question #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)”

This essay question is all about you! When you were reading this prompt, what was the first thing you thought of? 

This prompt is very broad which gives you creative freedom in your writing. You can choose to write about an important person in your life, how volunteering at your local shelter brings you so much happiness or how baking homemade cakes to brighten your friends’ days is your favorite thing to do. The opportunities are literally endless. 

Even though there are a lot of options of what you could write about, be sure to stay true to you. Brown wants to learn all about you and your personality. Therefore, make sure you are being unique and true to yourself throughout your response. 

Questions to consider

  • What makes you happy? 
  • Who inspires you? 
  • What clubs or extracurricular activities are you involved in? Which do you enjoy the most? 

Next steps after applying to Brown University

Now that your Brown supplemental essays are submitted, the hard part is over. After you submit your fine-tuned application with stellar supplemental essays, there are still a few things you can do to optimize your chances. Continue to show demonstrated interest in Brown University so they know you are committed and prioritizing their school (even if you have a few other top choices.) 

This can be done by:

Essentially, showing interest and staying connected will allow you to get that extra foot in the door and make your name known. Exploring your interest in Brown will also help solidify if it is the best university for you. 

Additional resources

As a student working on college applications and finishing up high school, you are no doubt busy. Our concise guides on how many schools to apply to and how to find safety, reach, and match schools will help you use your time more wisely. 

With so many test optional colleges, you might be wondering whether to send test scores to test-optional schools. Luckily, we’ve got a guide for that as well. Create a college comparison spreadsheet when those acceptances start rolling in to help make your final college choice. Throughout your higher education journey, make sure that you apply for all the scholarships you qualify for!

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