Tips for Answering Brown University Supplemental Essay Prompts

Get tips for answering the Common Application prompts. This post about the Brown supplement to the Common Application is the first in a series of posts written to help you complete the 2015 Common Application supplement for Ivy League and other top schools.  

In addition to the basic Common Application essay, the Ivy League schools require supplemental essay responses. These extra essays help these elite schools gain a deeper understanding of you, the applicant. They are your opportunity to explain how the school is a good match for you and vice versa. These schools want to know what is important to you and how they fit into your future goals!

When addressing each prompt, consider the overall character and focus of the school in relationship to your personal objectives. Visit the school website, read about their educational mission, and think about how the school supports your interests. Brown University is committed to undergraduate freedom and the process of free inquiry. For students this means that while you are guided by specific departmental concentration requirements, you must take responsibility as an “architect of your courses of study.” Take a close look at the distinctive Brown Curriculum on the school’s website.

Why are you drawn to the area(s) of study you indicated in our Member Section, 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)

Begin by discussing the subject areas you are interested in studying. Then discuss what specifically attracts your interest. You can include examples from previous coursework, volunteer experience, personal research, or any other factors that influence your interests. How you respond to this question demonstrates your potential to succeed in Brown’s independent academic framework. Don’t panic if you are truly undecided. This is a great opportunity to reflect on how you approach learning and discuss which subjects engage you. You are providing insight into how you navigate the academic world.

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)

Your response to this question provides context regarding your life experience. You can also include your impressions about where you lived. Were there specific cultural ties? Was it a diverse or homogeneous community? Did you feel comfortable there? Did your family move for job opportunities?

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. (150-word limit)

Briefly describe your selected community/group and your place within it. Then focus your discussion on how the group affects you. This is about how you view yourself in relation to others. This prompt touches on the impact of groups on individual thinking and vise versa. What does your membership within this community reveal about you? Discuss how you are similar or different from the larger group.

Why Brown? (200-word limit)

This is a direct and powerful question. This is your opportunity to communicate how the college fits with you now and potentially in the future. It also allows you to discuss how you can contribute to the intellectual and social environment at the school. What specifically draws you to Brown that you cannot find anywhere else? What does Brown offer that you are passionate about? What are your thoughts about its educational approach? You might want to consider how the Brown Curriculum meshes with your learning style. Think about why you are attending college and how Brown supports your goals.

Note: If you are interested in Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Geology, Mathematics or Physics, you must complete additional Science/Engineering statements. Likewise, if you are applying to the 8-year Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) or the 5-year Brown/RISD Dual Degree Program (BRDD), you must also complete additional special programs statements.

Brown has a highly competitive applicant pool. It received 28,919 undergraduate applications for the class of 2017. Only 2,654 or 9.2% were offered admission and 94% of the students admitted were in the top 10% of their high school class. Your essays make you more than a number.

In this environment it is essential to remain calm and focused. Keep in mind, while adhering to the designated word limits, your goal is to distinguish yourself from your peers by sharing your personal examples, anecdotes, and perspectives. In short, by providing sincere insight into what makes you, you! And why you are a good match for Brown! Be sure to allow yourself appropriate time to reflect on your educational goals and to convey your best self to the admissions committee through your essay responses.

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Marie Todd By , Accepted’s college admissions specialist. Marie has worked in college admissions for over twenty years. She has both counseled applicants and evaluated applications. Most recently she evaluated 5000+ applications for the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology. She is available to assist you (or your child) with your applications.

Related Resources:

• Tips for Answering Common Application Essay Prompts
• Beyond Tests Scores and GPA: How to Wow College Application Readers
7 Signs an Experience Belongs in Your Application Essay