Brown University

28 Brown Essays That Worked

Updated for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle.

About Brown

Brown University is a storied Ivy League university based in Providence, Rhode Island with a reputation for cutting-edge scholarship and groundbreaking academic programs. Founded in 1764, Brown is one of the nation's oldest colleges and places a premium on studying subjects from several disciplines. Students at this progressive school are encouraged to think beyond the box and pursue academic rigor and breadth. As such, unlike other schools, Brown has an Open Curriculum, which empowers students to choose the courses they want, rather than having to fulfill general education requirements. This tight-knight, politically active campus is a great fit for free thinkers and free spirits hoping to make the world a better place.

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Providence, RI

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Real Essays from Brown Admits

Prompt: 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.

As a future psychiatrist, I strive to understand human behavior, disorders, and decision-making, and I am excited to participate in laboratory research that involves discovering and improving the neural processes that affect mental health. Because I am dedicated to developing my knowledge in a complex way, I would love to learn more about gender, sexuality, women, race, philosophy, and all other subjects that would inform me of the intricacies of human nature, and I know that an enriching experience through the Open Curriculum will allow me to become better at creating solutions to address topics within the field of healthcare. The supportive community of Brown makes me confident that I will create meaningful and collaborative relationships with my fellow students. I also admire Brown’s dedication to fostering a genuine interest in its students to strive towards innovation. As I complete my undergraduate studies, I hope to develop creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking, which are all skills that will enhance my transition into medical school. 

Additionally, I am interested in furthering my studies in the Chinese language and culture. I am eager to study abroad in China to increase my proficiency and become more familiar with how non-Western countries approach psychological concepts. Overall, I know that the Brown community and the Open Curriculum will equip me with the skills I need for success in my future career and help me expand my worldview to better contribute to serving the needs of our global community.

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Essay by Sage Hanks

Hello! I am a prospective neuroscience major at Princeton, and I'm interested in the intersections between neuroscience, race, and gender!

Prompt: 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.

Just as how disappointing Junior year has been with the entire world pandemic, my senior year has been a blast. Since senior year has started, I’ve never failed to strike up conversations with my peers. Because, as high school seniors, we have the impending doom looming over us called college applications. And it is glorious. I have been orders of magnitude more social this year. And with that, I’m a much happier person. I talk to people, they talk to me, and together we dream about our future. I’ve reconnected with middle school friends. I’ve been on call with my closest friends for almost nine hours up till five in the morning, manifesting our dream universities. But it’s evolved into something more than just talking. I like to think that I’m well-read, and in extension, a decent writer. To be honest, it has fed my ego that my counselors and teachers enjoyed reading my essays. Although I know that I’m not a Mary Shelley or a Christopher Paloni, I’m very proud of my essays. But it cannot compare to the euphoria I experience in helping others write essays and writing peer recommendation letters for others. I am genuinely proud of these experiences. To have bits and pieces of writing in others’ essays is powerful, but also humbling. I have had a hand in their stories, both in their essays and in their lives. And that mere thought excites me. We’re all going to do great things. I know it.

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Essay by thulium

$2.5 million in scholarships | Jack Kent Cooke Scholar | 21 APs | 45 essays

Prompt: 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?

Sophomore year, our class went on a hiking trip into the White Mountains. The conditions were horrid—it was raining and the terrain was rocky. Additionally, we carried forty-pound backpacks. 

I was excited to test my fitness and wilderness skills. However, at the mountain’s base, some of my classmates started having second thoughts, believing the trek may be too challenging. This meant possible cancellation of our trip. 

Many of us, including myself, attempted to encourage those with apprehensions: “It won’t be that bad! We have planned for months. There is nothing to worry about.”

When I saw that I would be unable to assuage my classmates’ fears, I reflected on what was happening. I was suddenly hit by a wave of guilt. This hiking trip was extreme. From our planning before the trip, I knew all of us wanted to climb this six-thousand-foot mountain, but some were intimidated—and rightfully so.

Although I saw myself as encouraging, I realized I not only invalidated my classmates’ fears, but also created unfair pressure. I apologized and offered a new plan: separate into fast, moderate, and slow pace groups, so everyone could be accommodated.

Everyone has their own needs. This experience helped show me that, when making group decisions, I need to work to understand the feelings of all members, validate those feelings (regardless of whether I share them or they are the feelings of the majority), and strive to accommodate each individual. Encouragement has a place, but empathy must come first in any group.

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Essay by Eugene H.

Nationally-renowed pianist/musician aspiring to major in CS at Stanford University, combining my interests for the arts and science!

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