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3 Top Tips for Writing Stellar Brown Supplemental Essays

Posted by Hayley Milliman | Nov 12, 2018 1:00:00 PM

College Essays

 

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Brown admits just under 7.2% of their total applicant pool every year. If you want to be one of those admitted students, you’ll need to write amazing Brown essays as part of your Brown University application.

In this article, we’ll outline the different types of essays you need to write for your Brown University application and teach you how to write a Brown supplement essay that will help you stand out from the thousands of other applicants.

 

What Are the Brown Essay Prompts?

Brown University requires you to complete a total of three short answer questions if you are applying to its undergraduate program. If you are applying to Brown’s eight-year Medical program or the five-year dual degree from RISD, you will have to write additional essays, which we will also cover in this article.

The three Brown essay prompts for applicants to the undergraduate program have a 250 word limit. For the three additional essays for the Brown medical program, two have a word limit of 250 and one has a word limit of 500. For the dual degree RISD program there is only one extra essay requirement, with a 650 word limit. These essays are specific to the Brown application - you won’t find them on any other college or university’s application.

All of these essays are of equal importance and should be treated as such. Every one of your essays should be the strongest example of your work possible.

The Brown essay questions offer you plenty of opportunities to show off your qualifications as an applicant and wow the admissions committee.

 

2018-19 Brown Supplement Essay Questions

All first-year applicants to Brown are required to answer the following Brown supplement essay questions:

  • Why are you drawn to the area(s) of study you indicated earlier in this application? (You may share with us a skill or concept that you found challenging and rewarding to learn, or any experiences beyond coursework that may have broadened your interest.) (250 word limit)
  • What do you hope to experience at Brown through the Open Curriculum, and what do you hope to contribute to the Brown community? (250 word limit)
  • Tell us about the place, or places, you call home. These can be physical places where you have lived, or a community or group that is important to you. (250 word limit)

If you are applying to the eight-year Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) or the five-year Brown-Rhode Island School of Design Dual Degree Program (BRDD) you must complete the special program essays.

Three essays are required for applicants to the PLME:

  • Committing to a future career as a physician while in high school requires careful consideration and self-reflection. What values and experiences have led you to believe that becoming a doctor in medicine is the right fit for you? (250 word limit)
  • Most people describe a career as a physician/doctor as a "profession", beyond a job. Describe for us what "professionalism" and "the profession of a physician/doctor" mean to you. (250 word limit)
  • How do you envision the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) helping you to meet your academic personal and professional goals as a person and as a physician of the future? (500 word limit)

One essay is required for applicants to the Brown|RISD Dual Degree Program:

  • The Brown | RISD A.B./B.F.A. Dual Degree Program provides an opportunity to explore your interests and prepare for the future in two distinct learning environments. Considering your understanding of both academic programs, describe how and why the specific combination of the art/design-focused curriculum of RISD and the wide-ranging courses and curricula of Brown could constitute an optimal undergraduate education for you. (650 word limit)

 

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Brown Supplemental Essays, Analyzed

In this section, we’ll be looking at the Brown essay prompts in depth.

Remember, with the Brown prompts you don’t get to choose which essay you would like to write. You need to answer all of the questions that are required for your particular program of study.

Let’s take a look at each of the Brown essay questions and see how to write something meaningful for each.

 

Brown Essay Prompt #1

Why are you drawn to the area(s) of study you indicated earlier in this application? (You may share with us a skill or concept that you found challenging and rewarding to learn, or any experiences beyond coursework that may have broadened your interest.) (250 word limit)

This essay question is fairly straightforward. Brown wants to know what you’re interested in pursuing academically and where that interest comes from.

Brown has an Open Curriculum model and it’s teased in this prompt. Brown doesn’t believe that learning is limited to the classroom, so you can talk about experiences outside school that contributed to your interest in the area of study you indicated.

Although Brown makes it clear that you may write about more than one subject, we suggest limiting yourself to one or two topics. 250 words is not that many - you’ll want to speak in-depth about your interests and you simply won’t have that ability if you choose more than two topics.

Try to share a personal experience that relates to your potential area of study. For instance, if you want to study English literature, you could talk about a family trip to London that piqued your interest. Or, if you’re studying math, you can talk about how winning a competition felt like an incredible reward for years of hard work.

 

Brown Essay Prompt #2

What do you hope to experience at Brown through the Open Curriculum, and what do you hope to contribute to the Brown community? (250 word limit)

You need to understand what Brown’s Open Curriculum means before writing this essay. Research Brown’s academic model so that you can speak about it confidently and accurately.

While the Open Curriculum may sound really exciting and its lack of required courses may sound exciting, you should present your interest in it as something proactive, rather than reactive.

Don’t say that you are excited to never read a fiction book again. Show what you would rather take instead. Basically, you want to show what you are interested in, rather than what you’re not interested in. Saying that you’re a musician who also has a passion for molecular biology is better than saying you’re an English major who never wants to be in another math class again.

 


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Brown Essay Prompt #3

Tell us about the place, or places, you call home. These can be physical places where you have lived, or a community or group that is important to you. (250 word limit)

This prompt is the fun prompt - a chance to let your personality and the places and people that have most influenced you win the admissions committee over.

You should write from the heart. The admissions committee should feel your deep connection to whatever you choose to describe as home.

Remember the old grade school axiom: “Show, don’t tell.” Don’t tell the admissions committee why a specific place or person is important to you. Demonstrate their importance through a description of your experiences or interactions with this avatar.

 

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PLME Essay Requirements

If you are applying to the eight-year Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) or the five-year Brown-Rhode Island School of Design Dual Degree Program (BRDD) you must complete the special program essays.

Three essays are required for applicants to the PLME.

 

PLME Prompt #1

Committing to a future career as a physician while in high school requires careful consideration and self-reflection. What values and experiences have led you to believe that becoming a doctor in medicine is the right fit for you? (250 word limit)

Make your answer is as specific as the prompt itself. Choose a real-life example to describe here, which can be anything from a personal experience to a news story you followed closely.

Being authentic will make this essay really shine. Don’t say that you want to be a physician for the job stability or the chance to be featured in a medical journal. If you have never seen a person suffering from cancer up close, don’t pretend that you have - the admissions committee will smell inauthenticity from a mile away.

Instead, truly reflect on something medically related that impacted you. Maybe you had a great experience with a doctor who helped you recover from a sports injury or loved interacting with your pediatrician who let you play with his stethoscope. Whatever you choose, it should be about you, and you alone.

 

PLME Prompt #2

Most people describe a career as a physician/doctor as a "profession", beyond a job. Describe for us what "professionalism" and "the profession of a physician/doctor" mean to you. (250 word limit)

This prompt can feel intimidating. How can someone who is outside of the medical profession answer this prompt with honesty, integrity and no guesswork?

Rest assured, there’s no right or wrong answer here. The admissions committee is simply looking to understand what being a doctor means to you.

You need to pick qualities that are meaningful to you and will resonate with the admissions committee - not that doctors have good job security and often high salaries.

Think about what your life as a doctor will be like. How do you picture yourself in ten years? Will you be researching cures? Will you be providing healthcare to underserved populations? Will you be handing out lollipops to the children who come to your neighborhood practice?

You should paint a vivid picture of how you anticipate acting as a doctor.

 

PLME Prompt #3

How do you envision the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) helping you to meet your academic personal and professional goals as a person and as a physician of the future? (500 word limit)

For this prompt, you need to do your research about the PLME program at Brown. Don’t be daunted by the length of the word limit - view it as an opportunity to show how much you know about the school.

The word limit for this essay is telling: the admissions committee at Brown wants to make sure that you are serious about their program, and serious for the right reasons.

Make sure that you are honest, and as specific as possible when answering this prompt.

Reference professors you are excited to work with or classes that stand out as thought-provoking or supremely fun. What does Brown’s medical program offer to its students that other medical programs don’t? Be sure to mention specific pieces of information.

You should also discuss why you’re interested in PLME versus pursuing a typical undergraduate degree and then applying to medical school. PLME is a unique program - highlight why this model is the right fit for you.

 

Brown RISD | Dual Degree Essay Requirement

One essay is required for applicants to the Brown|RISD Dual Degree Program:

The Brown|RISD A.B./B.F.A. Dual Degree Program provides an opportunity to explore your interests and prepare for the future in two distinct learning environments. Considering your understanding of both academic programs, describe how and why the specific combination of the art/design-focused curriculum of RISD and the wide-ranging courses and curricula of Brown could constitute an optimal undergraduate education for you. (650 word limit)

For the Brown | RISD Dual Degree Program essay, you’ll need to pick out specific aspects of both Brown and RISD that appeal to you.

Identify features of each school that you’re attracted to, like particular classes or professors.

You should also indicate how you’ll take advantage of each school. If you just wanted to study design, you’d apply to RISD. If you just wanted to study something else, you’d apply to Brown. So why do you want to go to both?

Describe how your work at one school will impact your work at the other. Perhaps your study of ancient Greek at Brown will inform the sculptures you make at RISD. You should depict how you see your studies at each school intersecting.

 

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How to Write a Great Brown Supplemental Essay

Regardless of which Brown supplemental essays you’re responding to, you should keep in mind the following tips for how to write a great Brown essay.

 

#1: Use Your Own Voice

The point of a college essay is for the admissions committee to have the chance to get to know you beyond your test scores, grades, and honors. Your admissions essays are your opportunity to make yourself come alive for the essay readers and to present yourself as a fully fleshed out person.

You should, then, make sure that the person you’re presenting in your college essays is yourself. Don’t try to emulate what you think the committee wants to hear or try to act like someone you’re not.

If you lie or exaggerate, your essay will come across as insincere, which will diminish its effectiveness. Stick to telling real stories about the person you really are, not who you think Brown wants you to be.

 

#2: Avoid Cliches and Overused Phrases

When writing your Brown essays, try to avoid using cliches or overused quotes or phrases.

These include quotations that have been quoted to death and phrases or idioms that are overused in daily life. The college admissions committee has probably seen numerous essays that state, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Strive for originality.

Similarly, avoid using cliches, which take away from the strength and sincerity of your work.

 

#3: Check Your Work

It should almost go without saying, but you want to make sure your Brown essays are the strongest example of your work possible. Before you turn in your Brown application, make sure to edit and proofread your essays.

Your work should be free of spelling and grammar errors. Make sure to run your essays through a spelling and grammar check before you submit.

It’s a good idea to have someone else read your Brown essays, too. You can seek a second opinion on your work from a parent, teacher, or friend. Ask them whether your work represents you as a student and person. Have them check and make sure you haven’t missed any small writing errors. Having a second opinion will help your work be the best it possibly can be.

 

Recap: Key Tips for the Brown Supplement

The Brown supplemental essays cover a wide range of topics. Regardless of the question you’re answering, remember to follow these basic dos and don’ts as you’re writing:

 

DO

  • Be authentic and honest.
  • Be specific when citing people, places and experiences.
  • Do your research about Brown and its unique academic model.

 

DON’T

  • Base your essays on what you think the Brown application committee wants to hear.
  • Use cliches or broad sweeping statements.
  • Try too hard to be funny and original - be genuine and your positive attributes will be visible to the committee.

 

What’s Next?

If you're getting ready to apply to college, it's time to learn what colleges expect from you. This article will help you better target your application to suit what each school you apply to is looking for.

Worried about how to write an amazing college essay? Read our step-by-step guide on how to write a college essay and take a look at our analysis of 100+ real college essays to get a feel for what colleges want—and don't want—to read in an application. 

 


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