The University of Chicago has long been renowned for its provocative essay questions. We think of them as an opportunity for students to tell us about themselves, their tastes, and their ambitions. They can be approached with utter seriousness, complete fancy, or something in between.
Each year we email newly admitted and current College students and ask them for essay topics. We receive several hundred responses, many of which are eloquent, intriguing, or downright wacky.
As you can see from the attributions, the questions below were inspired by submissions from UChicago students and alumni.
To begin working on your UChicago supplement visit, getstarted.uchicago.edu, the Coalition Application, or the Common Application.
2017-18 UChicago Supplement:
How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago.
Extended Essay Questions:
(Required; Choose one)
Essay Option 1.
“The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” – Joseph Joubert
Sometimes, people talk a lot about popular subjects to assure ‘victory’ in conversation or understanding, and leave behind topics of less popularity, but great personal or intellectual importance. What do you think is important but under-discussed?
Essay Option 2.
Due to a series of clerical errors, there is exactly one typo (an extra letter, a removed letter, or an altered letter) in the name of every department at the University of Chicago. Oops! Describe your new intended major. Why are you interested in it and what courses or areas of focus within it might you want to explore? Potential options include Commuter Science, Bromance Languages and Literatures, Pundamentals: Issues and Texts, Ant History... a full list of unmodified majors ready for your editor’s eye is available here: https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/academics/majors-minors.
-Inspired by Josh Kaufman, Class of 2018
Essay Option 3.
Earth. Fire. Wind. Water. Heart! Captain Planet supposes that the world is made up of these five elements. We’re familiar with the previously-noted set and with actual elements like hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon, but select and explain another small group of things (say, under five) that you believe compose our world.
-Inspired by Dani Plung, Class of 2017
Essay Option 4.
The late New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham once said "Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you could do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization." Tell us about your “armor.”
-Inspired by Adam Berger, Class of 2020
Essay Option 5.
Fans of the movie Sharknado say that they enjoy it because “it’s so bad, it’s good.” Certain automobile owners prefer classic cars because they “have more character.” And recently, vinyl record sales have skyrocketed because it is perceived that they have a warmer, fuller sound. Discuss something that you love not in spite of but rather due to its quirks or imperfections.
-Inspired by Alex Serbanescu, Class of 2021
Essay Option 6.
In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose your own question or choose one of our past prompts. Be original, creative, thought provoking. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun.
When applying for admission to your selected colleges, most colleges will require you to write a personal statement to submit along with your college application. To assist you in writing your best personal statement, colleges might provide creative college essay prompts to help stimulate your thinking process so that you can write the best possible personal statement.
In case that colleges don't provide creative college essay prompts we've listed 25 creative college essay prompt to help you write your best possible personal statement:
1. Describe an experience where you were unsuccessful in achieving your goal. What lessons did you learn from this experience?
2. Think back to a situation in your life where you had to decide between taking a risk and playing it safe. Which choice did you make? What was the outcome of your choice? Would you have made the same decision looking back on the experience or would you have made a different decision?
3. What movie, poem, musical composition, or novel has most influenced your life and the way that you view the world? Why?
4. Describe an experience that forever changed your life and your outlook on life.
5. Why have you chosen to spend the next four years of your life in college?
6. What do you plan on doing after you graduate from college?
7. As of right now, what do you see as your long-term goals in life?
8. If you were given the ability to change one moment in your life, would you do so? Why or why not? If so, what moment would you change and why?
9. Presuming there was only one open admission spot remaining, why should this college choose to accept your application and not that of another student?
10. What would you describe to be your most unique or special skill that differentiates you from everyone else?
11. Describe some tasks that you have accomplished over the past two years that have no connection to academic studies.
12. If you had the chance to have a 30-minute conversation with any person in human history (either living or deceased), who would be the person you choose? Why? What topics would you discuss with this person?
13. If you could be any animal in recorded history, what animal would you choose? Why?
14. If you were given the capability to travel back in time to any period in history, where would you head to and why?
15. What do you consider to be the best advice you ever received? Who gave you that advice and did you follow that advice or not?
16. What do you consider to be the most important political or social movement of the 20th century? Why?
17. What advice would you offer to a student just beginning his/her high school career?
18. Devise a question that is not on this college admission form and provide a complete, thoughtful answer to it.
19. Choose one quotation that defines who you are and explain why that quotation describes you so well.
20. How has the neighborhood you've grown up in molded you into the person you are today?
21. Imagine that you have written a 400-page autobiography of your life to this point. What would page 150 of that autobiography say?
22. Choose the invention that you think has had the most negative impact on our world and explain why you chose that invention.
23. If you had the ability to read other people's minds (a.k.a. telepathy), would you use this ability or not? Why?
24. Tell a story that directly or indirectly illustrates the type of person you are.
25. Describe the most embarrassing moment of your life and explain what you learned from that experience and how it has made you a better or stronger person today.
The 25 creative college essay prompts listed above should give you a starting point to write your own personal statement. The personal statement is used by most colleges to help them evaluate the type of person you are, which can help differentiate yourself from other applicants who have similar academic backgrounds to yours. By considering the 25 creative college essay prompts above, you can be more prepared to write an engaging personal statement that will let your personality shine through and will help you to be accepted into the college of your choice.