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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

8 Brilliant Brown University and PLME Essay Examples

What’s Covered:


Brown is a highly selective school, so it’s important to write strong essays to help your application stand out. In this post, we’ll go over some essays real students have submitted to Brown, including to the even more competitive Program in Liberal Medical Education, and outline their strengths and areas of improvement. (Names and identifying information have been changed, but all other details are preserved).


Alexandra Johnson, an expert advisor on CollegeVine, provided commentary on this post. Advisors offer one-on-one guidance on everything from essays to test prep to financial aid. If you want help writing your essays or feedback on drafts, book a consultation with Alexandra Johnson or another skilled advisor.


Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized. 


Read our Brown essay breakdown for a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental essays.


Essay Example #1 – The Open Curriculum


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. (200-250 words)


My mother exclaimed in shock as she saw the title American Murder: The Family Next Door as the latest title on our Netflix watch list. “Why on earth would you want to watch that?” It made no sense to her that I spent free time watching documentaries about the psychopathic tendencies of serial killers.


From listening to neuropsychology podcasts on my long runs to reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, I’ve been eager to explore the intersection between neuroscience, society, and the role they play in human nature. Brown’s Open Curriculum would allow me to double concentrate in Neuroscience and Science, Technology, and Society with a theme in Health and Medicine. Classes like Philosophy of Biology and The Moral Brain would begin to answer my questions about the relationship between neuroscience and human ethics. Perhaps I’ll finally understand why Raskolnikov thought he could get away with his crimes.


As an eight-year Latin scholar and five-time Percy Jackson reader, I hope to take classes in the Brown Classics department. I’m also intrigued by Ancient Greek Philosophy, and I plan to explore classic texts such as Plato’s Symposium in Introduction to Greek Literature. Courses like Hippocratic Medicine would allow me to learn about connections between the Classical world and medicine today. 


The brain’s unique composition creates an intricate link between science, history, and modern society that I can only explore at Brown. More importantly, Brown’s diverse environment would introduce me to people with entirely different opinions about Raskolnikov’s motives.


What the Essay Did Well


This essay is structured incredibly well. The author uses an anecdote to explain their interests in the opening paragraph. “My mother exclaimed in shock,” is the beginning of an opening sentence that draws the reader in, as the reader wants to learn the reason behind the mother’s shock. This opening allows the writer to speak about an interest of theirs, murder documentaries, then tie it to what they’re interested in studying. 


When discussing an academic interest, the author does a great job of providing specific examples connected to Brown. This allows the writer to share how they plan to take advantage of Brown’s unique Open Curriculum. They write, “Classes like Philosophy of Biology and The Moral Brain would begin to answer my questions about the relationship between neuroscience and human ethics.” By sharing specific classes, it’s clear that the author has done some research about Brown and is truly interested in attending. 


The writer chooses to spend their last paragraph sharing more interests and how they could pursue these interests at Brown. They did a great job sharing a variety of interests, and they made it fun by writing that they’re a “five-time Percy Jackson reader.” Sharing details like this about yourself can help make your essays stand out because you come across as relatable, and your essay becomes more engaging and entertaining for the reader!


What Could Be Improved 


While it’s nice that the writer mentions various interests, including both neuroscience and classics, there doesn’t seem to be a strong connection between the two topics. The essay would be better if the author improved the transition between the second and third paragraphs. They could say how it’s not common to be able to study both neuroscience and classics because of how different the subjects are but that Brown’s open curriculum lets you pursue both.


More simply, the writer could share why they want to study both topics. Will they both be relevant for their career goals? Are they just curious about exploring a variety of subjects and classes at Brown? No matter the reason, a connection between their interests and a better transition would strengthen this essay.


Additionally, the essay prompt asks students to talk about both topics that interest them and “embracing topics with which you are unfamiliar.” It’s always important to keep the prompt in mind when outlining or writing it. This student wrote a lot about their interests, but it’s a little unclear how they plan to embrace topics with which they’re unfamiliar. Clarifying which topic in this essay the writer hasn’t studied would improve the response and ensure that it directly answers the prompt.


They could say, for example, that the open curriculum allows them to formally study crime, which they’ve always been interested in from listening to true crime podcasts. If the author chooses to include this in their essay, it’s important that they do so to ensure that they’re properly answering the school’s prompt.


Essay Example #2 – Joy in Latin


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. (200-250 words)


I remember being a fourth-grade “puella”, discovering the joy of chanting declensions with my classmates. Since then, my passion for Latin and mythology has expanded by reading books like Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods to Homer’s The Odyssey. I’ll never embody a character as well as I played the mythological Psyche in my fifth-grade Latin presentation.


I’ve always compared my Latin homework to my math homework. It’s very methodical, translating each phrase and then trying new ways to create a coherent sentence. Whenever I’d spent a good twenty minutes sorting through the puzzle of words to make a sentence, that moment where it finally made sense was euphoric. 


These translation and mythology skills I’d developed over the years would become essential about halfway through my freshman year Latin class when I was introduced to the revolutionary game of Certamen. Certamen is like Latin jeopardy with questions themed after classical history, mythology, translation, and grammar. A familiar feeling of competition surges through me each time my teammate of three years and I start a game of Certamen. With our handy doorbell buzz button and endless knowledge of Latin derivatives, we currently maintain a three-year Certamen win streak that I intend to keep until I graduate. The light-bulb that goes off in my head whenever I finally grasp the meaning of a Latin passage has become addicting throughout the years, and I hope to continue experiencing that joy at Brown University.


What the Essay Did Well


This essay does a great job of answering the prompt! Brown wants to know about something that brings you joy, and the student shared multiple responses, “chanting declensions with my classmates,” “sorting through the puzzles of words to make a sentence,” and “Certamen.”


While this student shares several things that bring them joy, they all fall under the theme of Latin which reveals the student’s broad interest in the subject. Further, the student does well making their interest relevant to Brown by hinting in the last sentence that this is something they want to continue to experience at Brown University. The reader learns not only about the writer’s interests but also that they’re going to bring this interest in Latin to their time at Brown. It’s always great when the reader can get an idea of what you want to do as a student on campus at their university!


The writer also describes the game of “Certamen” well by showing and not telling. For example, sentences like, “With our handy doorbell buzz button and endless knowledge of Latin derivatives…” and “A familiar feeling of competition surges through me,” paint a picture of the game. The reader understands that the writer loves the game of Certamen just by these descriptions; the student doesn’t have to directly say “I love Certamen.” Try showing and not telling in your own essay to make your essay more interesting and to showcase impressive writing skills. 


What Could Be Improved 


The second paragraph of this essay shares a bit about why the writer likes their Latin homework, but other than being about Latin, this paragraph doesn’t fit in well with the rest of the essay. Latin homework and puzzles aren’t mentioned in either of the other paragraphs, and the transitions between paragraphs could be stronger.


Right now, the writer connects the second paragraph to the third by saying, “These translation skills.” This could be improved by the student writing a stronger transition sentence from the first to the second paragraph. They could say, “In middle school I started getting more homework for Latin, but I didn’t mind because I’ve always compared it to my math homework.” This would emphasize their love for Latin and show that it’s a subject they’ve studied throughout the years. Transition sentences are important so that each paragraph contributes to the essay.


The writer could also improve the essay by focusing more on recent stories and examples of their love for Latin and mythology. They spend the first two paragraphs starting with fourth grade and going through the years until they reach high school in the final paragraph. It’s okay to share an interest or something that’s brought you joy for a long time, but when you mention the distant past, it’s best to keep that part limited. The reader wants to learn more about who you are now and your current interests. The writer could have instead given examples of recent translation projects or recent mythology books they’ve read. 


Essay Example #3 – Joy in Driving


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. (200-250 words)


Sitting behind the steering wheel, with the low hum of my music and the engine as background noise, I breathe in the familiarity of the 5-mile radius I generally commute within. My windows are rolled down and my sunroof is wide open, weather permitting, as the wind threatens to defenestrate my possessions. But I enjoy it immensely. The drive is refreshingly liberating: it feels like I can do anything and go anywhere I desire. As someone who frequently feels overwhelmed by the idea that most of my life is outside my control, a drive will often cure that feeling. The freedom of driving dissipates those worries.


My most frequent destination is Starbucks, not the one closest to my home, but rather the franchise that is a mile or two further. It allows me to enjoy the drive for longer than just a few minutes, extending an otherwise hasty experience to offer more time in reflection. Upon arriving and picking up my mobile order, I return to my car and savor my coffee, all while appreciating the music and experience. The coffee is an impeccable companion, both in its rich taste and the endeavor of acquiring it.


During my most stressful weeks, I can rely on my trips to get coffee as an outlet to forget my assignments and worries. The solitude of the activity is a rare opportunity for reflection: a joyful adventure all around.


What the Essay Did Well


It isn’t easy to make a mundane topic like driving to get coffee interesting, but this student was able to do just that! They did a great job of beautifully describing an outing that gives them joy. Specifically, the writer uses imagery well in sentences like: “My windows are rolled down and my sunroof is wide open, weather permitting, as the wind threatens to defenestrate my possessions.” It’s easy for the reader to imagine the possessions about to fly away!


Other strong description words help with this, as well. The writer describes the “rich taste” of the coffee and the “engine of background noise.” By painting a picture of some of the five senses, the writer is able to bring the reader into the moment and create a compelling story. 


The writer does a great job of sharing why the act of driving to Starbucks brings them joy. These details help this essay go beyond just a pretty story by helping the reader to learn about the student.


From moments like, “As someone who frequently feels overwhelmed by the idea that most of my life is outside my control, a drive will often cure that feeling,” readers learn one of the reasons why driving brings the student joy. Additionally, readers learn that this is a joyous moment for the writer because it serves as a time for reflection. These small details are great to include because they show why the reader is joyful!


What Could Be Improved 


While the writer does a good job of inserting details that explain why they love driving to Starbucks, the reader still only learns a limited amount about the writer. The only interests shared are that the reader enjoys driving and Starbucks.


Supplemental essays like this are a great chance for students to share interests that they don’t have a chance to include anywhere else on their application. For example, the writer could have written about their love for photography and how taking photographs of dogs brings them joy. That would teach the reader more about who the writer is as a person and what they would bring to Brown University.


Some sentences do a great job of sharing details and painting a picture of the scene; however, there are a few places where the author could provide even further details. For example, what kind of coffee are they drinking? Is it a grande iced white mocha, or a venti java chip frappuccino ? What music are they listening to on the radio? Sharing these kinds of details would allow the reader to learn more about the author and their interests, which is great for a topic like this, where the goal is for the student to share an interest they have not mentioned in their application.


Essay Example #4 – Joy in Drawing 


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. (200-250 words)


My dusty sketchbook must dread the moments I decide to take it off my desk. Every time I pick it up to use, it results in piles of graphite and eraser shavings everywhere in my room. I’ve gone through so many boxes of pencils, I think Ticonderoga must know me by now. The sketchbook of mine has seen better days – days where it looked pristine and without blemish. 


I love to draw. Yes the final result provides fantastic amusement to my eyes, but the process of the entire drawing allures me to this hobby. The second the fine point of my pencil hits the devoid paper, wonders only comparable to music begin to formulate. Each stroke of the pencil leaves a mark surpassing in magnificence to the one before. The freedom to pour out my thoughts into a sheet of paper astonishes me and provides me with a feeling of bliss and comfort.


Each sheet of paper is brimmed with portraits; my loved ones, friends, even strangers take up the space in my book, but for good reason. After I finish each drawing, I simply give it to them. I do cherish the journey I take with my art, but the smile on their faces when I give them my art is nothing less than beautiful. Even the most majestic of artists wouldn’t be able to capture the raw nature of that smile. For that is where I am given the most joy, in the smiles of others.


What The Essay Did Well


This essay does a superb job of using particularly sophisticated and vibrant language! The word choice is memorable and striking, which both keeps readers engaged and demonstrates the author’s broad vocabulary. Vivid images like the dusty sketchbook and the eraser shavings, or the notebook brimming with drawings, draw us in, before phrases like “wonders only comparable to music” and “the raw nature of that smile” drive home the applicant’s deep personal connection to their topic. 


The author’s confident, unique voice is another strength here. From the playful tone in the beginning of the essay, to the impassioned description of the student’s process, and finally, the reflection on the humanity of drawing, we get to know the author’s personality. They come across as funny, thoughtful, and generous, thanks to the details they include and the tone they use when presenting them.


Most importantly, the command of language and the personal tone come together to convey the author’s true passion for drawing, and the joy they find in that activity. Ultimately, any college essay needs to address the prompt, which this one does clearly and comprehensively. The mastery of language and vibrant personality are what take the essay from good to great, but the real key to this essay’s success is its connection to the prompt, as without that, Brown admissions officers wouldn’t get the information they’re looking for. 


What Could Be Improved


With an essay this strong, it’s tough to imagine what could make it better. At this point, changes would mainly make the essay different, not necessarily better or worse. However, considering alternative approaches can still be productive, since everyone has a slightly different way of telling their story.


For example, the student could have spent a little more time explaining their decision to give their portraits away. Right now, the essay ends with something of a plot twist, as we learn that what brings the student the most joy is in fact not the act of drawing, but the smiles of others after receiving their work. 


This “cliffhanger” ending is striking and memorable, but we also miss out on learning more about the student’s personality. Drawing is usually a solitary pursuit, but for this student, it’s clearly a more social activity, and they could have spent a bit more time exploring this aspect of their art to further set themselves apart from other applicants.


Again, though, this suggestion is more likely to subtly shift the tone of the essay than make it drastically better. Calling a college essay “done” can be stressful, but this essay is a good reminder that, at a certain point, your energy is going to be more productively spent on other aspects of your application.


Essay Example #5 – Differing Perspectives, Studying English


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? (200-250 words)


“Spend $300,000 to study ENGLISH!?” my friend chucked. “And do what? Teach A for Apple, B for Buffalo to primary kids?


“B for Ball” I whispered to myself. On my way home, I kept mulling. “Everyone knows English, what’s the need to STUDY it?” his words echoed in my head. Since I was young, I had been intrigued by the beauty of language. Fresh parchment was my petrichor. I could almost smell the raw, crisp paper sending pheromone-releasing signals to my brain, luring me to wield my pen and spill beads of ink on the virgin sheet of emptiness. Words were woven threads of thought, emanating the ineffable processes of the mind. Poetry was my mode of escapism; debate -my partner in crime. “’A for apple, B for ball’, I sadly pondered. 


We got down at our houses and I waved him goodbye. My imminent desire to ‘respond’ cowered back into its hole. But maybe I didn’t have to reply. Because curiosity prefaces career and we all have varying definitions of both. Maybe the reason why our choices are challenged is to test if we would hold on to them. This tiny incident taught me 2 crucial lessons- A: Silence is a sign of maturity, not cowardice, and B: Having faith governs the prowess to excel. The next day when I met my friend, I simply smiled and said “The reason we can converse critically is because someone taught us the alphabet. Maybe being a teacher isn’t a bad idea after all.”


What the Essay Did Well


This essay is incredibly well written and does a great job of using dialogue throughout the story. The writer begins with an exclamation that grabs the reader’s attention: “Spend $300,000 to study ENGLISH!?” The use of capitals really emphasizes that the problem idea being challenged isn’t the amount of money being paid, but rather that the writer wants to study English. 


The dialogue continues as the student describes their internal thoughts and remembers what their friend told them. This is a great way for the reader to learn exactly what the author is thinking and how they feel about what is being said.


The use of “A for apple, B for ball,” becomes a theme and a symbol throughout the essay, as it’s used to symbolize both the writer’s interest in the teaching profession and their friend’s belief that it’s not a good idea.


Finally, the essay ends with dialogue as the writer counters their friend’s doubts and becomes more secure with their own goals. “Maybe being a teacher isn’t a bad idea after all.” This ending reveals how the author ultimately chose to respond to their friend, as well as that the author ultimately remained strong in their own beliefs. 


The “A” and “B” theme comes up again when this student spells out the two lessons that they ultimately learned from this experience: “A: Silence is a sign of maturity, not cowardice, and B: Having faith governs the prowess to excel.” This does a great job of summarizing the lessons that the author learned and how they chose to respond to the situation. It’s nice to have this concrete conclusion in an essay containing a lot of lines on thoughts and feelings. 


What Could Be Improved 


This essay is beautifully written; however, it could be improved by better answering the prompt. The prompt wants to know about how students handle intellectual debate so that Brown University can “promote a deeper and clearer understanding of the complex issues confronting society.”


It seems more like this student’s decision to be a teacher was challenged, rather than a belief about a complex issue. Whether the student should be a student is not presented in this essay as an issue with two reasonable sides, but rather one student’s condescending and unsupported belief that teaching is not a worthy profession. 


This is further evidenced by one of the lessons the student takes away, “Silence is a sign of maturity.” Brown University is seeking an essay about a topic that can be debated, not one where the response is silence. The university wants to see how students will handle learning from others who have different views about politics, for example. 


If the writer wanted to stick with this topic, then they would need to present the other student’s view as one with which they could have a discussion. Maybe the other student presented valid points about education being a path to increase one’s earning potential. Then, the writer could have a debate with them about the purpose of higher education and its role in their own life.


Make sure that your answer to a prompt like this shows the university how you will handle discourse at their university as you encounter others with views different from your own.


Essay Example #6 – Differing Perspectives, Gun Control


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? (200-250 words)


During the earliest stages of my Political club, I was faced with a question by a peer. The club was in a discussion about gun laws in the US and what everyone’s view was on the topic. This specific student seemed very passionate about the issue and made it known that he wanted guns in this country. He began citing examples with store owners protecting themselves from armed robberies and overall self defense in general. He was well versed in the topic but that came to my realization once he asked me what my view was. I subconsciously knew guns were destructive, of course they were, and I wanted to state that. But I couldn’t think of any evidence to support myself. I wasn’t educated in the issue of guns in America other than my raw opinion of guns being “bad”. 


But experiences like this motivated me to take that step, I wanted to educate myself on this issue that plunders America. Instead of conforming to his view, I took this opportunity to establish my own foundation and learn of the different instances in our history that would support my opinion. I versed myself in information from resources on the Internet and finally came to my club ready for discussion. But it didn’t end in the transformation of any opinions, instead he understood my judgment and respected it. When challenged with this perspective against my own, I’ve learned that with enough evidence and research, any opinion can be deemed correct. 


What The Essay Did Well


This essay is a great response to Brown’s dialogue prompt, and a big part of why is how well-chosen this anecdote is. The gun control debate is a contentious and familiar one, so admissions officers will already know the contours of the argument, which saves the writer space by not needing to give much background context. With just 250 words available to you, don’t underestimate the importance of being efficient with your space.


Gun control is also an issue that readers are likely to connect with on a deep, emotional level, which means they’ll take the essay seriously. Additionally, they’re likely to view the author as well-informed and engaged in current events–the fact that the essay’s setting is a politics club underscores the student’s commitment to understanding pressing contemporary issues.


This essay also reveals a few other important aspects of its author’s personality. Chief among these are the author’s humility, self-awareness, and regard for others. For example, when the writer acknowledges their surprise at how well the other student argued his point, and their own lack of knowledge, they show that they can recognize where and how they need to grow. 


Being vulnerable in college essays can be difficult, since you’re obviously trying to put your best foot forward. In reality, though, showing you’re aware of your flaws gives admissions officers confidence that you’re going to take full advantage of your time in college, to grow as much as possible. Trying to present yourself as too perfect can come across as clueless or even arrogant.


Finally, the essay’s ending is unexpected and thought-provoking–rather than resolving the issue by having one student “win” the argument, this student explains that the two understood and respected each other’s opinions without changing their own. As a result, the overall narrative isn’t about an argument and final confrontation, but about the author’s lack of information, and their response to it. 


This unconventional approach to this prompt tells us a lot about how this applicant approaches complex issues–namely, with the open-mindedness and willingness to learn Brown highlights in the prompt–and, stylistically, helps the essay stick in a reader’s head, which in turn will help this student stand out from the crowd of other applicants. 


What Could Be Improved


One of the bigger flaws in this essay is the lack of an obvious takeaway. It’s unclear what exactly the author means when they say that any opinion can be deemed correct. It seems like the point they’re trying to make is that many different opinions can be valid and supported by evidence. This is quite a different statement than saying any opinion can be correct. The former is a reasonable point, and a good lesson to take away from this experience. The latter is a very big, absolute statement, that isn’t really supported by the story. 


Though this is just one line in a 250-word essay, endings carry a lot of weight, since they’re obviously the last thing admissions officers read, and thus are likely to stick in their mind. Spending a bit more time making sure that your ending accurately reflects the ideas of your essay is definitely going to be worth your while.


Additionally, in a few subtle ways, the writing in this essay isn’t as fluent as it could be. It’s still a well-written essay, but overall, the structure and flow of the writing is a bit off. 


For example, when the author talks about debating with a friend in a club, they say “He was well versed in the topic but that came to my realization once he asked me what my view was.” The word but implies that the second part of the sentence contradicts the first, but that’s not true here.


Similarly, while many students feel the urge to show off their vocabulary as much as possible, clarity in your essay is ultimately the most important thing, and some word  choices in this essay don’t work as well as others. To give an example, when the author says “this issue that plunders America,” the verb “plunders” seems a bit off, given its definition: to steal goods. Snags like this can be caught by an editor, or by reading aloud to a friend or oneself.


Let’s now compare this essay’s strong and weak points to those of the following essay, which is a different response to the same prompt. 


Essay Example #7 – Differing Perspectives, Artistic Freedom


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? (200-250 words)


I learned a new slur during my first day on my slam team.


The “M-word,” coined by the former president, was “melanin.” To her, Black poetry was overdone, so she advised Black teammates to avoid racial topics, fearing they would “bore the judges.”


“We get it— you’re black,” she quipped, “can you talk about anything else?” Following that meeting, I avoided Black poetry. My racial experience was a broken record— an earworm of sob stories over events only read about in history books.


However, after experiencing all the distinctive, poignant Black pieces at my first slam competition, I realized that we do art a disservice when we try to police or limit others’ creations. Moreover, I learned that seniority should never eclipse core values.


This insight stirred my young POC writers initiative years later— a global support system for marginalized creatives. Complete with virtual open mics, advice forums, and resource directories, my goal was to create a safe haven for underrepresented writers and be the mentor I craved during my first slam meeting.


However, respecting my former president’s intentions, I urge my creatives within the initiative to chase uniqueness in their art. Today, I play with several nuances of racism in my writing. In one piece, I explore Black boys as recyclables in the prison system. In another, I use evolutionary theory to hypothesize a truly “post-racial” America.


During my first day as president of my slam team, I taught my poets a new phrase: artistic freedom.


What This Essay Did Well


In this essay, we learn a lot about who this applicant is, and what matters to them. We learn not only about how they respond to different opinions, but also about their passion for slam poetry, their appreciation for Black artistry, and their mentoring of younger peers just getting into slam poetry. The anecdotes are well-chosen, as we continuously learn new details about the applicant throughout the course of the essay.


A strength that contrasts with the first essay is this example’s fluency and command of language. Unsurprisingly for a slam poet, the writer utilizes creative, accurate vocabulary, diverse and sophisticated sentence structure, and a cohesive narrative flow. The author is clearly a great writer, and this essay demonstrates that. 


Finally, this applicant’s introduction has an unusual, provocative angle that grabs readers’ attention right from the first sentence. This hook ensures that we are engaged and invested in their story from beginning to end, as we wonder whether this odd piece of advice will be accepted or rejected. 


Like the previous example for this prompt, the author takes an unexpected route. Though they ultimately reject the mandate not to write about race, they acknowledge and appreciate the idea behind this rule, before reframing that rule in a more positive, affirming way, which encourages young slam poets to tell unique, diverse stories, rather than imposing a blanket ban on any one topic.


The fact that this student is pioneering that outlook within the club says a lot about them as a leader by example who grew from their own experience and refuses to limit their peers the way they were once limited. 


What Could Be Improved


One thing about this essay that may come across differently than the author hoped is their mention of the so-called “m-word.” While this stands for ‘melanin’ in their essay, there is a real life “m-word,” which is considered a slur against people with dwarfism. 


Though the author immediately clarifies that they are using the phrase “m-word” to refer to a completely different word, their use of the term may initially be off-putting to those familiar with the actual slur. Since admissions officers read these essays so quickly, you want to avoid potentially coming across as ignorant, even for just a second, as that can throw them off and take them out of the flow of your story.


There are other ways to start off this essay that preserve the overall provocative, unique feel, and don’t run the risk of unintentionally offending. For example, the student could have said something like “I always thought ‘four letter word’ was the right slang for swear words, but on my first day on my slam team, I learned a seven-letter bad word: melanin.”


When using invented or uncommon language, especially something as potentially offensive as slurs, it’s best to do your research and ensure that the term you’re using doesn’t have another meaning that may change the light in which an admissions committee views you or your essay. 


Essay Example #8 (PLME) – Why Medicine?


Prompt: Committing to a future career as a physician while in high school requires careful consideration and self-reflection. What values and experiences have led you to believe that becoming a doctor in medicine is the right fit for you? (200-250 words)


I never wanted to be a doctor. When my South Asian grandparents claimed that women have to go into medicine, I promised them that would never happen in my case. This irrational hatred continued until a certain opportunity contributed to a change in my perspective. 


I decided to volunteer at a local medical center, initially to earn volunteer hours. But the more I delved into the high-speed environment, the more it seemed to fit me. I was confident when talking to hospital staff and found myself always trying to learn more from the radiologists or surgeons I met. I was ready to learn what the white region on the CT scan was, or the risks of a certain procedure a patient was going through.


My persona also changed when speaking to patients, my voice becoming clear and soothing. When a patient was agitated that he couldn’t get out of his wheelchair, I rushed to his side, calmly encouraging him while nurses helped the patient get on his feet. My reaction to working at the hospital was unexpected but perfect, making me realize that I would be a good fit for this career.


I know I will succeed as a physician because I disliked the field before I loved it. I look forward to improving someone’s life and being a part of a team that puts patients first. I know my ability can be used to change the lives of my patients, making me a perfect candidate for a future physician.


What This Essay Did Well


This essay, which is essentially a “Why Major?” essay (the actual question is “Why Career?” but most of the same principles apply) grabs the reader’s attention right from the start, with an unusual premise that is sure to stand out to admissions officers. The author crafts a deeply personal story about their path to medicine, through which they demonstrate true commitment to patients and a passion that came from within, not others telling them what to be. 


Another powerful moment in this essay is the ending, when the author summarizes all that will make them a good physician. Here, they recap the values they’ve shown in this essay: caring for patients, putting them first, and changing lives. Remember, the conclusion of your essay naturally carries additional weight, since it will be the last thing in your reader’s mind. With their final line, this author shows not only the skills they possess, but their view of these skills as crucial for any good doctor to have. We learn not just about the applicant, but about how they view the practice of medicine as a whole. 


What Could Be Improved 


One thing that we would’ve loved to see is a bit more explanation around the sentence “I know I will succeed as a physician because I disliked the field before I loved it.” This is a compelling sentiment, which is definitely unlikely to show up in many other PLME essays, but the lack of further explanation is definitely a flaw. 


Why would disliking the field before loving it lead to a better career as a physician? After all, many doctors have always been drawn to medicine–are they worse at their jobs as a result? If the author were to spell out what they mean more explicitly, or spend more time unpacking the implications of this idea, their point would be much stronger.


More broadly, it can definitely be tempting to include these kinds of bold statements in your college essays, as they are certainly attention-grabbing. But if you do, you want to make sure they are fully supported, either by the narrative itself or a couple of lines of explanation. Otherwise, they may come across as edgy just for the sake of it, rather than demonstrating that you are a creative, sophisticated thinker.


Another thing that could strengthen this essay would be a deeper dive into some of the applicant’s other qualities illustrated in this essay. For example, when talking about their volunteer work, they briefly touch on their affinity for the fast-paced environment. A little more detail here would go a long way towards helping us envision them in the hectic environment of a hospital one day, especially since at this point in the essay, they’re explaining how they went from disliking medicine to enjoying it. This shift is the crux of the whole essay, so it’s crucial that readers fully understand how it happened.


Or, just a few sentences later, they say “I was ready to learn what the white region on the CT scan was, or the risks of a certain procedure a patient was going through.” This curiosity and passion for knowledge are even more examples of their fitness for the medical profession, and they would do well to expand on them–again, so that we can more clearly imagine them eventually working as an actual doctor.


Where to Get Your Brown Essays Edited


Do you want feedback on your Brown essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 


If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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