Brown University Essay Prompts

You need guidance on Brown’s four supplemental essays. We’ve got advice. You and this blog are a perfect fit!

Before you get started, remember that while these are all short responses, they’re still essays, and all the essay rules apply: develop engaging openings and strong conclusions, and provide examples and specifics so that you are showing rather than telling.

Also, while it’s tempting to go straight to the prompts and come up with your ideas based on Brown’s questions, remember that these answers are your opportunity to provide a fuller picture of who you are and what you will add to the Brown community. Start with the details and stories you want to share, and then figure out how you can express those ideas through these essay prompts.

Speaking of, let’s get to them:

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150 words maximum)

  • We know you’ve done a lot of different things. This is not the place to share all, some, or a few of those activities. Pay attention to the prompt and pick one.
  • Your reader wants to learn more about what you do and why you do it. Provide details on your responsibilities and be sure to include the why.
  • Don’t repeat information that will be found elsewhere in the application. If your main essay is about an extracurricular activity, write about a different one here.

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 course work that may have broadened your interest.) (50-250 words)

  • If you have one or two areas of interest, this is the place to provide more details about why you like them and how you have already explored them.
  • Is undecided your main area of study? That’s fine since college is, after all, a place for students to explore. Brown does expect you to have some academic interests, so pick a few and include them along with why these topics intrigue you.
  • In either case, add a line or two connecting your desire to continue exploring these interests at Brown specifically by including a specific reason—a class, a professor, or a major unique to Brown, for example.

What do you hope to experience at Brown through the Open Curriculum, and what do you hope to contribute to the Brown community? (25-250 words)

  • At its core, this prompt is asking you, “Why Brown? How are our offerings a good fit for your goals, and how will you take advantage of what is available to you here?”
  • Brown’s Open Curriculum is quite unique, and it should be a major factor in your decision to apply. A strong response will go beyond the basics to explore how this curriculum will help you combine your interests in unique ways or follow unrelated interests or be more focused. What will the Open Curriculum mean for you?
  • BE SPECIFIC! You may want to include courses of interest, clubs you plan to join, and extracurricular activities you hope to pursue. The Brown website is your best resource for these details.

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. (25-250 words)

  • On the surface this prompt might seem pretty straightforward, and in many ways, it is. You likely have a place—or even a number of places—that you call home. But don’t lose sight of the fact that this is an essay, not a list or a location.
  • If you’ve moved around a lot and want to provide a literal overview of all the places you’ve lived, be sure to share something interesting about each one and how it has impacted who you are today. It’s also fine to focus on the one place where you feel the most at home.
  • Whether you’ve lived a more nomadic life or stuck close to home, share something important about yourself through your home story.


Written by Elizabeth Heaton
Elizabeth Heaton is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions consultants. Before coming to College Coach, Beth worked as a senior admissions officer at University of Pennsylvania and an alumni admissions ambassador at Cornell University. Visit our website to learn more about Elizabeth Heaton.