Besides the cultural aspect of the “campus community” to which you will contribute, you can also discuss how your current aptitude in a particular subject will push Brandeis faculty or students to a new level in academic research and discourse. Quintessentially “Brandeisian” majors and minors are devised with a global mindset, most notably “International and Global Studies” and “Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies.”
While writing about such majors that allow for an individually tailored program (a Brandeis specialty), you could explain how you propose to combine a set of courses into a never-been-done-before curriculum, using a novel mix of disciplines that will inspire others to think of more unexpected programs of study during their own college career. This, of course, means that you need to conduct in-depth research on the course catalog and know a bit about how classes work at Brandeis. That may sound like a lot of work for a 250-word essay, but doing so will demonstrate you unwavering interest to the admissions officers.
For students who aren’t predisposed to the humanities, there is also the 5-Year BA/MA track at Brandeis’ International Business School (IBS), which allows undergraduates to earn their Bachelor of Arts as well as their Master’s in International Economics and Finance in an unusually short amount of time. Keen students with a strong entrepreneurial spirit may choose this path in order to start their own business earlier.
However, when writing about how your unique background meshes with these academic programs, it is paramount that you still discuss how your current abilities, accomplishments, ideas, and presence would further your fellow students’ scholarly pursuits — as this should be the core of your response. Thus, you may consider relating your current coursework with Brandeis’ offerings, in order to draw parallels between your ability to positively influence your peers in high school to your potential to do the same at the university.
Brandeis’ broad array of extracurricular options includes various student-run Arts & Culture and Political & Activism clubs.
Arts & Culture and Political & Activism clubs are equally valued at the school. Be sure to peruse the club websites and events if you wish to make reference to extracurriculars in your essay. Name dropping is an important and often overlooked aspect of writing admission essays. While it is insufficient to list the top 10 most popular student organizations at Brandeis to demonstrate your knowledge of the school, it is paramount that you weave in appropriate references to them.
For example, as an Economics major, while discussing your research on differing psychological mindsets between individuals of French and British descent, you could mention organizing psychological research events for the French Business and Lifestyle club, to further enhance the school’s understanding of the French style of approaching commerce. Alternatively, as a Legal Studies major, you could elaborate on the musings of your reading of U.S. judges’ opinions on immigration cases, and propose to join the fight for immigrants in the Student Association for TRII.
In addition to clubs, Brandeis University offers unique fellowship and internship programs like the Sorensen Fellowship and the Brandeis-India Fellows program. Alluding to the mission of these special tracks provides an opportunity to discuss your professional aspirations and how they relate to what you have accomplished so far.
The Big Picture
Granted, 250 words do not allow enough space for you to cover the cultural, academic, and extracurricular enhancements that you will bring to the Brandeis community. Therefore, use an anecdote or an activity that can represent multiple aspects of what you want to address.
Using a previous example, with the French Business and Lifestyle Club, you can use the “business” aspect of the club to discuss your prowess in economics and entrepreneurship, and use the lifestyle portion of it as an avenue to explicate your familiarity with French culture through your multiple language immersion excursions.
Moreover, keep in mind some of the unique grants Brandeis offers, such as the Maurice J. and Fay B. Karpf Peace Award and Ari Hahn Peace Award. Past winners of these grants have shared their intent to fund a female speaker series or rekindle ties between Brandeis and a school in the Middle East with the money.
If using the wrong tone, writing about potential plans to use these grants to positively influence a demographic may seem a bit presumptuous. However, writing in hypotheticals and discussing the possibility respectfully will impress the admission officers with your vision and ambition.
Hundreds of international students call Brandeis University their home every year and differentiating your vision of the school community can be challenging. We here at CollegeVine would love to guide you through the process if you’d like more hands-on help.
May the odds ever be in your favor, and happy writing!
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If you’re working on your Brandeis University application, you might have noticed two important things: there is a writing supplement, and it’s optional.
Before we get to the questions themselves, let’s tackle the optional part. Your application will certainly be complete if you opt not to write the additional essay, but there are some students who should write it anyway. Wondering if you’re one of those students? Ask yourself these questions:
- Is Brandeis a reach school for you? If so, seize this opportunity to share more about yourself with the admissions office. For you, this essay is not optional.
- Is Brandeis a match school for you, one where you look a lot like the average accepted applicant? With an acceptance rate of 33 percent, Brandeis is still turning away far more students than they are admitting. Making a case for the fit between you and the college can be a major factor in whether or not you make the cut. For you, this essay is not optional.
- Is Brandeis a safety school for you? Brandeis is eager to admit students who they believe will attend. Let them know you are truly interested by doing the additional writing. For you, this essay is not optional.
Bottom line: if you like Brandeis enough to apply, then you should write the optional essay.
Here’s the good news: students have a choice of three prompts, and at only 250 words or fewer, the essay itself is pretty short.
Option A: Why would you like to attend Brandeis?
The goal here is to help the admissions office understand how you will take advantage of what’s available at Brandeis and why it’s a good fit for you. I strongly encourage including information about your academic goals: what you want to study, a few specific courses that look interesting and why, maybe a professor with whom you’d like to study and why. But it’s also okay to highlight other elements of the university that particularly appeal to you, whether that’s a popular campus club, a special program, or something else. Just don’t do too much; it’s better to go in-depth on a few important elements than to gloss over too many of them.
Option B: Justice Brandeis said, “Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done.” Tell us how you would implement change in society that others might think impossible.
Think about an issue that is important to you and how you might solve it, but avoid the temptation to go too big. It’s great if you’d like to crack the challenge of ending world hunger, but we will likely learn more about you if you have an immediate connection to the issue. Keeping your ideas more focused and personal, rather than grandiose, will generally result in a more compelling essay.
Option C: Tell us about something you could talk about for hours and why.
What are you passionate about? Could be The Walking Dead, fixing up your car, the Vietnam War, Andy Warhol, pop culture trivia, or Blake Shelton. Could be serious or silly, well-known or obscure, intellectual or lowbrow. In short, it could be anything. Write about something you truly love, and the admissions office will learn something essential about you. And that’s the ideal outcome for any personal essay.