Brown University

24 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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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 far back as I can remember, I have had a deep-rooted interest in history. Captivated by each story, I watch every documentary on King Henry VIII, read every book on the Cambodian Genocide, and listen to the stories of my family's struggle during the Nicaraguan Proxy Wars. My passion for history intertwines with my love for International Affairs. While exteriorly different, international affairs have been the leading causes of several historical events. To this day, the history and legacy of World War II have continued the United Nations purpose in maintaining global peace. The United Nations saved my family in the Nicaraguan Proxy War, and as such, history upholds peace in intersection with international affairs. The Engaged Scholars Program at Brown takes on this approach. Providing me with the hands-on experience to serve humanitarian efforts and public service, the program takes history onto theoretical and analytical levels of community engagement. Furthermore, I could discover new passions and interests at Brown, such as Greek Mythology, by contributing to the Brown Classical Journal. While also studying at the Brown Center for Language Studies to learn the mother tongue of my Aztec ancestors: Nahuatl. My passions are a necessity rather than an option. While studying at the Brown Open Curriculum, I can be free to become a changemaker in my education in serving the world. To have the possibility of studying multiple pursuits while continuing International Affairs, I see that my place fits Brown as a member of its diverse community.

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Essay by Indiana VA

Incoming Freshman at Harvard majoring in Government/Political Science

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.

As my pen hits the page and I complete that first stroke of ink, all of my stress vanishes. Art is not a hobby that I merely enjoy, but a necessary component of my lifestyle.

Exploring visual art allows me to have a space in which I don’t have to worry about gaining validation from people around me. I create art just for the sake of creating, and it's brought my life some much-needed balance. My many failed attempts at illustrating new pieces have taught me that failure only highlights areas in my life that require growth. I went from scribbling on a page to creating illustrations of saints to adorn my Church walls, and that kind of improvement proved to me that real growth takes time and dedication.

However, art has done more than just improved aspects of my own life. I remember seeing the joy on my sister’s face the first time she saw the portrait I drew of her. She noticed the richness of her dark skin and the volume of her curls jumping off the page and said to me, “I feel seen!” That moment made me realize that I have a medium to highlight topics and issues that I wish to address. With my artwork, I strive to remedy the lack of representation in the media by implementing various skin tones and hair types in my digital illustrations to allow humans of all ethnicities to feel as beautiful and seen as my sister did.

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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’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?

“Don’t give them money. There’s a reason why they're homeless. Study hard so that you don’t become one of them,” my friend’s mother said, as an old man held his sign, looking up at us in our school bus from the dirty streets. She started rambling how they’re dangerous and will use our money for drugs and alcohol. I had already droned out of her wisdom, as it became one with the mindless chatter of my 3rd grade classmates around me. Even back then, I thought that it was a bunch of hogwash. Homeless or not, they’re still human. How could you make baseless assumptions on people by their appearance? Funny, how that simple question has plagued humanity since the start of its existence. Even now, that question remains unanswered with the great political and racial divides in our nation. But I digress. I should’ve said something back. It wouldn’t have been polite, but it would save me from the regret that I hold now. My lack of action is on my conscience. I have long forgiven myself, but I’m proud to admit that I learned something that day. Not that I believe her supposed wisdom, but that I have a voice and I should exercise it. Eight years later, I have an answer. I have studied hard, per her advice, but not so that I am not homeless. Rather, I have studied to become a doctor to make a better world for them all, one person at a time.

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Essay by thulium

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

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