October 10, 2019

Brown University Essay 2

Brown University

At Brown, you will learn as much from your peers outside the classroom as in academic spaces. How will you contribute to the Brown community? (250 words)

Well, actually, we would argue that you stand to learn MORE from your peers outside the classroom than inside, but that’s a discussion for a different day!

Rather than use this space to demonstrate your interest in Brown, and to reveal things you know about Brown, our perspective here is to TURN THE TABLES. Some folks may have a different take here. (But ours is better, haha.)

Let’s think about this critically. Presumably, you have tons to give, right? Presumably, you have cool perspectives on things shaped by the circumstances of your upbringing (where your family is from, specific family dynamics, geography, socioeconomic status, whatever other influences exist that can shape a human). You have your talents, your interests, your passions, your personality quirks. You’re like a tightly wound coil, brimming with potential energy. Will that change if you end up at . . . Harvard? Or Yale? Or Stanford? Or Columbia? Or Cornell? Why would it? I mean, it’s possible that you’ll adapt to an environment that’s different, as anyone would, but would your contributions TO that environment fundamentally shift? If so, doesn’t that make … what you have to give… kinda flimsy? Shouldn’t your offerings be… your offerings… REGARDLESS of where you end up?

The badass answer here is yah, you’re going to contribute a ton of amazing stuff to WHICHEVER SCHOOL *YOU* END UP CHOOSING. This is the part where you (a) reveal what that is, (b) make Brown want you to contribute that stuff to Brown and NOT another program, so they can have you all for themselves.

Rather than go too hard on why you want to make that contribution to BROWN and not another school, go hard on what it is you have to contribute, and what it is you’re hoping OTHERS have to contribute that’ll enrich YOUR experience. It’s almost like you’re laying down YOUR demands to Brown here and challenging them to make you want THEM over another option.

Now, how do you do all that? Well first you have to establish what it is you’re hoping to get out of the “learning from peers” aspect. Can you point to a time when you’ve been better off for having been in the presence of others, in an outside-the-classroom situation? Something where, had you experienced it alone, you might have still succeeded or had a positive outcome, but it wouldn’t have been as rich? You’ll want to establish (from experience) your humility, and awareness of how much others can contribute to your own growth, and to explain what qualities made that possible. Once you’ve established that, now it’s time to offer a kind of quid pro quo, as if to say, “and now for MY part in this bi-directional peer-to-peer learning exchange!” This is what *I* bring to the party: A, B, C, etc.

What’s “A B C, etc.”? Well, it’s different for every individual. That’s the whole point. There has to be a way for you imagine how others experiencing college without you ends up being an A-, say. But that an alternate version that includes you along the way, elevates that “same” experience to an A+. What was in that you were able to provide, by way of fresh perspective, or talent, or energy, or an unusual passion, or your way of thinking, that could possibly have a rub-off effect like that? This is your opportunity to showcase how you’ve influenced others thus far, and what specific qualities you have to continue to contribute to the Brown campus. (Or any campus, for that matter.)

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