About Brandeis University

Founded in 1948 in Waltham, Massachusetts, Brandeis University is one of the youngest private research universities in the nation. Despite its relative youth, Brandeis has grown rapidly, providing a strong foundation in the liberal arts, immense research opportunities, and a tight-knit community to over 3500 undergraduate students, roughly 16% of which are international. Although Judaism played an important role in Brandeis’ founding, as can be seen in its namesake Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice, the institution has become a home for students all around the world. Diversity is a major point of pride for Brandeis, which offers unique, globally oriented academic and extracurricular programs. One such program is its Wien International Scholarship, which was established to help financially challenged students from outside the US establish bonds and better understand their peers’ backgrounds. Nevertheless, Brandeis continues to be a cornerstone in Jewish culture, through its Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and its Institute for Informal Jewish Education.

Academics are further supplemented by Brandeis’ membership within the Boston Consortium, which allows students to attend classes at neighboring institutions, including Babson College, Wellesley College, Tufts University, Boston College, and Boston University. In this blog post, we’ve created a guide to answering Brandeis University’s prompts for the 2016-2017 application cycle. Armed with our guide, you’ll be able to craft unique essays that will set you apart from the competition.

For International Students Only:

Brandeis attracts students from many corners of the world. As an international student at Brandeis, how would you enrich the campus community? (250 words or fewer)

Brandeis University prides itself on the diversity of its student body, especially the 16% that are international students, hailing from 97 countries. In this prompt, Brandeis asks that you, an international applicant, portray your distinct background in relation to the school’s unique academic and extracurricular offerings. Your response can take a variety of forms, whether it be celebrating your culture through existing programs on campus, raising awareness for your culture by creating opportunities for other students, or even celebrating other cultures by bringing your own distinct perspective. The possibilities are endless, but the one thread that runs throughout these responses is an awareness of Brandeis’ current cultural offerings or lack thereof.

Within academics, Brandeis provides a rich assortment of majors and minors with an international scope, including “International and Global Studies” and “Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies,” which a student would be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Writing about this  major would be particularly fruitful because it is one of the few majors that allows for an “individually tailored program.” Under the guidance of their academic advisors, students can design their own framework of classes that reflects their background and interests. Other internationally focused global offerings include Brandeis’ “International and Global Studies Program,” which fuses a unique curriculum on globalization with a study abroad program.


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For students who aren’t inclined towards the humanities, there are also programs like the 5 Year BA/MA at Brandeis’ International Business School (IBS), which allow undergraduates to earn their BA as well as a Master’s in International Economics and Finance. In other words, a business student hailing from a developing Latin American nation might choose to study International Economics and write a thesis on economic development in post-colonial nations, all while minoring in, say, Social Justice.  However, when writing on your unique background and how it meshes with these academic programs, it is paramount that you still discuss how you would be able to better your fellow students and peers through these scholarly pursuits. In order to do so, you may then consider relating your coursework with Brandeis’ extracurricular offerings.

Brandeis’ broad array of extracurricular offerings includes various student-run “Arts & Culture” and “Political & Activism” clubs.

Either sort of club could make for an effective essay topic. If you choose to write on an Arts & Culture club, you could mention joining a club that celebrates your culture and how your experiences could enrich this community. This would require some research into the club’s events, so be sure to check out their websites. You could then discuss what events you would try and organize, though these proposals should remain tethered to your overarching academic and cultural narrative.

Similarly, you may discuss your interest in a Political & Activism club. Since these organizations have a more tangible impact upon the surrounding world, your efforts to enrich the campus community would naturally follow your interest in them. For example, the business student mentioned earlier might study macroeconomics in the classroom but also be involved in the Brandeis Labor Coalition, in order to ensure workers on an individual level are treated fairly. In addition to clubs, Brandeis offers unique fellowship programs like the Sorensen Fellowship and the Brandeis-India Fellows program. Generally speaking, both of these fellowship programs involve an internship or service program. Mentioning these would provide an opportunity to discuss your pre-professional interests and how they relate to your background.

Finally, citing your academic pursuits and how they could fulfill your international heritage is a crucial part of the response, since academics would obviously be central to your Brandeis experience. However, instead of discussing academics alongside extracurricular activities or activism to demonstrate your potential impact on campus, students can also opt for a more creative approach and instead discuss potential applications of these academic pursuits.

For example, if you have a particular ambition in mind, you may choose to discuss some of the unique grants Brandeis offers, like the Maurice J. and Fay B. Karpf Peace Award and Ari Hahn Peace Award winners. Past winners of these grants have shared their intent to use the grant towards a female speaker series or rekindling ties between Brandeis and a school in the Middle East. Although writing on this may be a little preemptive, demonstrating you have a vision and the knowledge of these programs could impress admissions counselors.

Hundreds of international students call Brandeis their home every year and differentiating your cultural vision can be challenging. We here at CollegeVine would love to guide you through the process if you’d like more hands-on help—check out our college essay services.



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CollegeVine College Essay Team

CollegeVine College Essay Team

Our college essay experts go through a rigorous selection process, evaluated upon their skill in writing and knowledge of college admissions. We then train them on how to interpret prompts, facilitate the brainstorming process, and provide inspiration for great essays, with curriculum culled from our years of experience helping students write essays that work.
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