Applicants to the Brown Class of 2026 were greeted with just a 5% acceptance rate, the lowest in school history. Given that 19 of every 20 applicants are turned away–even many valedictorians with perfect test scores–aspiring Brown undergrads need to find a way to stand out from a pack of similarly-credentialed teens. Fortunately, Brown provides exactly this kind of opportunity by offering three 200-250 word essays that provide applicants a chance to showcase their writing ability and craft responses that are genuine, compelling, and potentially needle-moving to the admissions staff at this Rhode Island-based Ivy. In the following blog, we will offer a detailed look at each of the Brown supplemental essays.

(Want to learn more about How to Get Into Brown University? Visit our blog entitled: How to Get Into Brown: Admissions Data and Strategies for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

You’ll find the Brown supplemental essay prompts for the 2022-23 admissions cycle listed below. The College Transitions team will also share their advice about how successful applicants approach each of the Brown supplemental essays.

Brown Supplemental Essays 2022-23

1) Brown Open Curriculum Essay

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. (200-250 words)

Let’s begin by explaining exactly what Brown’s Open Curriculum is…In the university’s own words, the Open Curriculum allows students to “develop a personalized course of study — they have greater freedom to study what they choose and the flexibility to discover what they love.” Getting to be the architect of your own college program is a rare opportunity that few schools other than Brown offer. With this great privilege comes great responsibility and Brown wants to know precisely how you might take advantage of this virtually unparalleled undergraduate freedom.

What makes you tick? What keeps you up at night? Which subject makes you read books and online content until your eyes bleed? If you could address one problem in the world, large or small, what would it be? How might an interdisciplinary approach help create innovative solutions to challenging problems? If you are answering at least one of these questions, you are on the right track with this essay.

2. Brown Different Perspective Essay

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? (200-250 words)

The U.S. presently finds itself in an extreme state of polarization. There seems to be little agreement even as to what constitutes “truth” or “facts”. Within this divided world, it can be hard for individuals with competing viewpoints to engage in civil and productive dialogue. Here, Brown is giving you the chance to show that you are an open-minded, intellectually curious, truth-seeking young person. Illustrate how you are willing to engage in conversations/debates with people who hold opposing positions on topics of great importance to you. One key thing to remember when addressing this prompt is that you don’t have to be the hero of the anecdote. In fact, you may be one who learned to expand their thinking.

3) Brown Joy Essay

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)

What brings you glee, exuberance, jubilation, delight, elation, bliss…joy? There are a multitude of universal and highly relatable experiences that bring joy to one’s soul. For example, it could involve children, pets, scenes of natural beauty, literature, travel, etc. However, you could also talk about dreams for the future, more bittersweet moments, abstract thoughts, moments of glorious introversion, or a time that you unexpectedly felt joy.

How important are the Brown supplemental essays?

There are a whopping 7 factors that Brown considers to be “very important” to the evaluation process. These are: rigor of secondary school record, character/personal qualities, class rank, GPA, recommendations, extracurricular activities. However, the most relevant to this blog is, of course, the Brown supplemental essays. The essays undoubtedly play a significant role in the admissions process at Brown University. They can help the committee decide who to admit when choosing between similarly-credentialed (GPA, test scores, etc.) applicants.

Want Personalized Essay Assistance?

We have over a decade of experience helping students compose essays that help them gain acceptance to Brown. If you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your Brown supplemental essays, we encourage you to get a quote today.


Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).