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The Essay Guide Series: Brown University

Brown University is a prestigious university in the US and has been a part of the Ivy League as well. It is one of the oldest universities in the US and has been lauded for being one of the most progressive ones as well. The Open Curriculum that they offer allows students to explore courses beyond their declared major.

Let’s look at what supplementary prompts Brown has and how to go about them.

Prompt 1: Brown’s Open Curriculum allows students to explore broadly while also diving deeply into their academic pursuits. Tell us about an academic interest (or interests) that excites you, and how you might use the Open Curriculum to pursue it. (250 words)

Their open curriculum gives students the opportunity to explore their interests without the confines of a pre-defined curriculum. Try to write the essay from the perspective of your current academic goals. Are you interested in the biological sciences but have a flair for writing? You’re a computer fanatic but want to understand how to improve your local community? Jot it down! Brown is interested in multifaceted people and has designed such a curriculum.

Whatever you would like to study during your time at university, make sure you write it down. But what you need to include specifically is HOW their curriculum is going to help you achieve those educational goals and how you intend on using it. It helps if you make a direct reference to a program, professor, or research that they are doing to show them that you have given enough thought to this. By answering how your intellectual growth is going to happen by taking these courses gives them an insight into your plans and your thought process. You can try different combinations of these subjects but make sure you have a great passion for it that reflects in your writing.

It would be a complete no-no to talk about how you are glad to never study subjects you don’t like but rather focus on exploring different subjects outside your major. If you’re unsure of what you want to study, make sure you reiterate that in your essay and how academic freedom will allow you to learn what your interests are and give you the opportunity to discover yourself.

Prompt 2: At Brown, you will learn as much from your peers outside the classroom as in academic spaces. How will you contribute to the Brown community? (250 words)

This prompt is specifically designed to let you tell the admission committee exactly what you will bring to the Brown community and how you intend on contributing to it. At Brown, the connections that you make outside the classroom matter very much and you will be spending a lot of time doing the same. The Brown community is very diverse in terms of race and ethnicity and this can serve as a learning curve for any student over there. So, look at the question from this perspective and see how you can contribute to their community.

Think about how your experiences have shaped your life and how you have communicated this in your life? Answering these questions will give them an idea of what they can expect from you and your contribution to their community. Students tend to struggle with this question because this is open-ended. But here you can use your circumstances and experiences because they make you unique compared to other applicants. Your interactions are a result of your experiences and hence, that is how you can make an impact. For example, your ability to be organized can be reiterated through an event you organized or leadership opportunities that you had taken up.

Tell us about a place or community you call home. How has it shaped your perspective? (250 words)

This question can be taken in many directions. It can be any place that you have felt at ‘home.’. This can be the football ground you’ve played in for years, the science lab at school, the music room you perform in, anything literally. What matters is the emotion that it incites in you and that’s something you need to reiterate in the application. This is not to say that you must describe the place in detail because that’s not the question here. You need to discuss homeliness from the perspective of how it made you feel and why you choose to say that’s where your passion lies. You can write about your hometown, community gatherings, any experience that you have had that is a fond and meaningful memory to you.


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