This required question is a hybrid of what I call the “Why major” essay and the “Why us” essay. 

I’ve created separate posts about each of these types of essays, and I highly recommend taking a look at both of them to guide your writing. Here’s my guide to writing the “Why major” essay and here’s my guide to writing the “Why us” essay. 

Once you’ve read those, here’s my advice for how to connect these two types of prompts: Spend about 125 words covering the “Why major” part of the essay, and then segue into 125 words on the “Why Brown Open Curriculum” part of the question, delving into how the flexibility will allow you to explore your academic interests.

Note: This is a new prompt for 2019, so I don’t have an example for this specific prompt, but here’s an example from a student who took my course last year and wrote great “Why major” and “Why us” essays. Check ‘em out:

Brown Supplemental Essay Example: Prompt #1 “Why major” Example Essay (from a previous year)

My whole life, storytelling has shaped me. When I lived in London, my parents would read me The Lion King every night until I’d memorized the whole book. In elementary school, I would curl up in my bed, warm lamp light making my room golden, listening to my dad bring to life classics like Wilderness Champion and Tom Sawyer. Later, I found audio storytelling, laughing hysterically at Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me on the car ride to school and connecting to a radio network of humanity through This American Life. It wasn’t long before I got hooked on visual narratives, mesmerized by the cinematic intensity of Whiplash and the whimsical world of Moonrise Kingdom, alternate realities I could explore as if they were my own. By high school, I was creating my own array of stories through satirical school newspaper articles, analysis of mise-en-scene in film class, podcasting, and my own locally-broadcasted radio series.

A concentration in the Literary Arts or Modern Culture and Media is the next step in my life of storytelling. The dynamic world of connection and vulnerability a well-told story can create is what continues to fascinate me. At Brown, I would explore how engaging narratives have been told in the past and can be innovated in the future through new digital platforms. Whether researching radio’s historical impact on public opinion during World War II or the Vietnam War, developing screenplays, producing my own documentary, or learning from Writers-In-Residence, I hope to pioneer networks of connection. (250 words)

Brown Supplemental Essay Example: Prompt #1 “Why us” Example Essay (from a previous year):

My life is the epitome of “and.” I have Chinese roots and am a proud North Carolinian. I am a team player and a leader. A bookworm and a backpacker. A creative thinker and logical problem-solver. I bridge divides. Like me, Brown exemplifies “and.”

Brown’s Open Curriculum embraces the diverse array of opportunities a university can offer. It empowers me to go after this, that, and all the choices in between. While I can picture myself in the Literary Arts Program exploring the intersection between creative writing and digital media, Brown gives me the freedom to also delve into psychology, media studies, international relations, and film. But, it watches out for its students, making sure they can experiment academically and be confident they have a strong community backing them up. Whether it’s my faculty advisor, Meiklejohn peer advisor, or concentration DUG, I’d have a supportive community acting as my safety net. 

Additionally, Brown’s partnership with RISD, University Film Forum, Student and Community Radio, and Swearer Center provide creative outlets and service opportunities. I could merge my interest in promoting community engagement with local youth and my excitement about the potential for digital media outreach through the Storytellers Fellowship. I’d be able to use my experience as a radio station sound editor to partner with RISD students on a multimedia art installation. That’s what Brown is all about. A school with all the tools I need to succeed, but one that encourages me to enjoy all the “ands” along the way. (250 words)

If she were using this content for the current prompt, I’d tell her to cut each essay in half, put them end to end, and she’s good to go. So that would mean a) writing 125 words answering “Why major”, then b) writing 125 words on “Why Brown” and she’s good to go.