The Ivy Coach Daily

August 11, 2023

2023-2024 Brown University Supplemental Essay Prompts

Students sit and read on the lawn at Brown University on a sunny day.
Brown University added additional essay prompts to its supplement for applicants to the Class of 2028 (photo credit: Ad Meskens).

Brown University has released its essay prompts for the 2023-2024 college admissions cycle. Applicants to the Brown Class of 2028 will be required to answer more essay prompts than applicants to recent Brown classes — significantly more. This year, in addition to The Common Application’s Personal Statement, applicants must answer three 200-250-word essays, one 3-word essay, two 100-word essays, and one 50-word essay. So what are this year’s Brown essay prompts?

2023-2024 Brown Essay Topics & Questions

Long Response Prompts

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 pursue them at Brown. (200-250 words)*

This prompt is a hybrid question — part Why Major and part Why Brown. Brown’s admissions committee wants to understand the origin story of an applicant’s interest in the discipline they hope to study, not as a child but as a high schooler.

And Brown also wants to know why Brown is the right place for an applicant to pursue that course of study. As such, the essay should be peppered with specific after specific about enduring aspects of Brown that only apply to Brown. And, no, name-dropping professors and listing classes do not count as genuine specifics about Brown.

2. Students entering Brown often find that making their home on College Hill naturally invites reflection on where they came from. Share how an aspect of your growing up has inspired or challenged you, and what unique contributions this might allow you to make to the Brown community. (200-250 words)*

Brown wants to understand the community and values that have shaped their applicants. With the Supreme Court recently outlawing the practice of Affirmative Action, this essay prompt presents an opportunity for applicants to share their backgrounds.

As Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion striking down Affirmative Action, “At the same time, as all parties agree, nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.” This essay prompt is one such opening.

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)*

Too many applicants focus on silly things that fail to showcase intellectual curiosity when answering this essay prompt, which has long been a staple of Brown’s application. While the pursuit that brings an applicant joy need not be world-changing, it must demonstrate how a student thinks or it will be a wasted opportunity.

Short Response Prompts

For these shorter prompts, Brown’s instructions read as follows: Help us get to know you better by reflecting briefly on each of the questions below. We expect that answers will range from a few words to a few sentences at most.

1. What three words best describe you? (3 words)*

These kinds of prompts — only three words — might take applicants the most time to consider. Dare to think outside the box and avoid the expected. Curious, engaged? Applicant can do better!

2. What is your most meaningful extracurricular commitment, and what would you like us to know about it? (100 words)*

This essay prompt presents an opportunity for a student to further demonstrate their hook since Brown admissions officers seek to admit singularly talented rather than well-rounded students. Applicants should make sure that the activity they describe in their answer is included within the activities section of The Common Application. They should also ensure they haven’t previously written about the activity in another essay that Brown’s admissions officers will read. All essays should be considered puzzle pieces — they must all complement one another.

3. If you could teach a class on any one thing, whether academic or otherwise, what would it be? (100 words)*

The class choice will ideally fall within the discipline the student wrote about in their first Brown supplemental essay. The course’s content should be creative, and its title should be pithy. No school in America has more bizarre class names than Brown University. Here’s an applicant’s opportunity to take their best stab at creating a class to join the pantheon of highly unusual Brown classes.

4. In one sentence, Why Brown? (50 words)*

Even in a short Why Brown prompt — and this is the second Why Brown prompt on the application since specifics about Brown can certainly be included throughout the first essay on Brown’s supplement — an applicant can land some punches. In only a sentence, the response should be filled with a specific reference or references that only apply to Brown. If one can cut and paste the sentence and replace the specific with another university, delete it, and start anew!

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with Brown University Essays

If you’re interested in optimizing your chances of admission to Brown University by submitting essays that are compelling and showcase a singular hook in the hope of daring admissions officers not to offer you admission, fill out Ivy Coach’s consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to outline our college admissions counseling services for seniors.

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