Along with the basic Common Application essay, the Ivy League schools require supplemental essay responses. These additional essays help these elite schools gain a deeper understanding of you as an applicant. It’s also your chance to explain how the school is a good match for you and how you can enhance their unique college community. What is important to you? How will an education from their school help advance your goals for the future?
When addressing each prompt, it is essential to consider the overall character and focus of Brown University in relation to your personal objectives. Visit the school website, read about their educational mission, and think about how the school supports your interests. Did you know that an impressive 100% of Brown faculty teach undergraduates? As the first Ivy League school to accept students from all religious affiliations, Brown is known for its openness.
It is also renowned for its innovative approach to education and outstanding research. Brown is committed to undergraduate autonomy and the process of free inquiry through their Open Curriculum program. For students, this means that while a framework of specific departmental concentration requirements guides you, 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 and the variety of ways that undergrads have paved their own paths to areas of study concentration. Imagine what it might be like to have this level of control over the content of your studies. As their website states, “At Brown, undergraduates are creators, leaders and doers who are not satisfied with merely raising questions — they learn to confront, address and solve problems facing society, the nation and the world.”
Brown University supplemental essay prompts
Brown University supplemental essay #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)
This is your opportunity to convey how the college and its unique curriculum fit with your interests now and potentially in the future. When answering this prompt, write about how and why the Brown Curriculum appeals to you, and how the Brown Open Curriculum complements your learning style. What attracts you to this approach, and what might you gain through the process? When you read the second sentence of the prompt, pay careful attention that they are asking two questions in one. Make sure to answer not only the first part as well as the second part.
Discuss the subject areas you are interested in studying and what specifically attracts you to explore these areas. You can include examples from previous coursework, volunteer experience, personal research, or any other factors that influence your interests. Check out the short student videos where they discuss the pathways that the Open Curriculum made possible for them.
How you respond to this question demonstrates your potential to succeed in Brown’s independent academic framework. This is a great opportunity to reflect on how you approach learning and discuss which subjects engage you. As you explain the subject fields and scholarly topics you are passionate about, you are providing a context for your interests and offering insight into how you navigate and process your world.
To address the second part of the question, reflect in your response openness to explore new topics via the Open Curriculum. That new area could be either a subject that you haven’t had the opportunity or time to dive into, or an area that previously didn’t engage your interest.
Brown University supplemental essay #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)
How students interact both inside and outside the classroom is important at this school. In an era where college campuses are rife with politically divided points of view, and often, there are attempts to shut down or even “cancel” those with opposing views, this prompt offers you an invaluable opportunity to relate how you have dealt with perspectives that challenged some of your own beliefs. Were you shocked and put off, but then decided to try to hear out the other side? Do you still struggle with hearing opposing points of view? If so, how do you plan to fulfill Brown’s value of active engagement? Have you been shunned for a point of view of your own? How did you handle it? What have you learned about the art of listening, about the art of dialogue? This question may itself feel very challenging to discuss–all the more reason to devote thoughtful introspection about the need to engage with others with civility, respect, even about issues about which you feel passionate.
Brown University supplemental essay #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)
College is about a big idea: becoming an educated adult. But life is about more than just the “big” things; it’s about thousands of small things that add depth, warmth, color, joy, meaning, and inspiration. What brings you joy could be listening to a favorite piece of music, or writing your own; reading a favorite book, or writing your own story; participating in a meaningful ritual; hiking in the mountains; volunteering to pack up meals and deliver them to the home-bound. Perhaps you found joy when you discovered something important about yourself. Whatever this experience or moment is, writing about it from the heart will help the school get to know you more deeply as a person.
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.
Final thoughts on applying to Brown
Brown has a highly competitive applicant pool. While it received 50,649 undergraduate applications for the class of 2026, only 5% were offered admission. Your essays make you more than the sum of your numbers.
Be sure to allow yourself appropriate time to reflect on your educational goals and to convey your most compelling self to the admissions committee through your essay responses. The best approach is to stay relaxed and focused. Keep in mind, while adhering to the designated word limits, your goal is to distinguish yourself from your peers by sharing personal examples, anecdotes, and perspectives. In short, provide sincere insight into what makes you unique and a good match for Brown!
If you’re applying to Brown University, you already know you’re up against tight competition. Don’t be overwhelmed. Get the guidance of an experienced admissions specialist who will help you stand out from the highly competitive applicant pool so you can apply with confidence, and get accepted! Click here to get started!
Marie Todd has been involved in college admissions for over twenty years. Marie has both counseled applicants to top colleges and evaluated 5000+ applications for the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology; School of Nursing; and Taubman College of Architecture. Want Marie to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch.