How to Write the Brandeis University Supplemental Essays: Examples + Guide 2021/2022

There are likely ample reasons you’re attracted to Brandeis, and one is likely its core mission of wanting to change the world—and it achieves that goal by empowering students to do great things. This prompt gives you the opportunity to show just how you’ll be one of these leaders for change in the Brandeis community.

But in answering, don’t be misled by the prompt. Brandeis wants more than just critical thinkers. They also want students who will take action on what they believe in, both on their own and through collaboration. So in your response, tell them: What topic has caused you to dive down a rabbit hole of information and explore what you know … and what you might not?

This is a new prompt this year, which means we don’t have a Brandeis-specific example to show you. But this essay, written for a similar prompt, would work here too. We’ll share below what to consider in crafting your own response.


Some of my more interesting perspectives were formed in the backseat of my mom’s maroon Ford Explorer. My mother had a bounty of knowledge, and during our daily drives-turned-interrogation-sessions, I would unload the many questions inside my head, from how toll roads worked to why we said the Pledge in school. 

My drive to understand the inner mechanics of the world has outlived both the car and my time in the backseat. As I’ve grown older, I found a new way to satisfy my quest for learning new things: arguing.

I have spent many hours with friends arguing over myriad topics, from what colors we should wear for homecoming to competing over who loves AOC more. With each conversation, I walked away with new insights. During a debate over the Green New Deal, for example, I learned the effects of government action on the employment rate.

Thinking back on my times spent exploring new concepts, I remember not just the thrill of learning how airplanes fly, or how the Sanders tax plan could help level income inequality, but laughing over my friend’s jokes about government mind control, listening to my mother’s cross-country-running stories, and forming close bonds with those around me, punctuated by fond memories of cars and coffee shops.

Those connections have inspired me to pursue a career in social science, specifically: politics. I hope to use my love of debate to develop a more nuanced understanding of global problems, like systemic racism and wealth inequality. (247 words)

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Tips + Analysis

  1. Go deep, not wide. This student clearly shows he’s interested in exploring a variety of new perspectives—from toll roads to AOC. But if he were responding to this prompt, we’d warn he’s covering too many. Remember the words “an example” and “specific” in the prompt. Instead of briefly touching on a laundry list of interests, home in on one topic and dive deep into how you’ve questioned, explored, and maybe even changed perspectives in that area.

  2. Offer examples. Even after you find that one topic, it’s not enough to share generalities, like the student above does with his 40,000-foot overview using phrases like “I learned” and “I remember.” Don’t just tell what you’ve learned. Show it through stories that are unique to you. Think back to a conversation at the coffee shop, the family reunion gone awry, the high school debate that took an unexpected turn. Each instance could be a great opportunity to use dialogue and the five senses to tell a story that clearly demonstrates how and when you thought differently on a topic.

  3. Connect your major. If you know what you want to be or study, this is the perfect opportunity to show why that field is so fascinating and important to you. With this student’s zeal for arguing (or, shall we call it, spirited debate) over public policy, it comes as no surprise that he’s interested in pursuing politics. But if you don’t have that crystal ball to predict your future and just aren’t sure of your direction, that’s fine too! Just substitute “major” or “career” with any area of interest that makes you lose all track of time.

  4. Show understanding and growth. Critical thinking also involves admitting when you’re wrong—or at least getting that alternate perspectives have merit and are worthy of consideration. This student starts to do that by acknowledging he walked away from discussions with “new insights,” but he could’ve elaborated on what those new insights were and how it changed his perspective moving forward. College is a place to expand your mind and expose yourself to new ideas, so show you’re ready and willing to do that at Brandeis.

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