Cool College Essay Questions

Here are Some of the Most Creative and Wacky Essay Prompts From This Year’s College Applications

 

The 2016-17 college admissions season has begun, with the availability of the 2016-17 Common Application and the launch of the new Coalition Application. With the start of the new application season comes some strange and quirky essay prompts.

Students planning to apply to college for the class of 2021 can get started on their college applications now, with many colleges now accepting freshman applications as of Aug. 1. One big component that students can get a head start on now is the essays, including school-specific supplements. While many colleges have the standard questions about why students want to attend, what they plan to accomplish, and more, some colleges get a little more creative and ask some interesting questions. Every year we round up some of the coolest, quirkiest, and strangest essay prompts.

Here are some of the weirdest college application essay prompts from the 2016-17 application season.

  1. This is your chance to take a risk. (University of Notre Dame)
  2. “It’s not easy being green” was a frequent lament of Kermit the Frog. Discuss. (Dartmouth College)
  3. Alice falls down the rabbit hole. Milo drives through the tollbooth. Dorothy is swept up in the tornado. Neo takes the red pill. Don’t tell us about another world you’ve imagined, heard about, or created. Rather, tell us about its portal. Sure, some people think of the University of Chicago as a portal to their future, but please choose another portal to write about.
    —Inspired by Raphael Hallerman, Class of 2020 (University of Chicago)
  4. You’ve just reached your one millionth hit on your YouTube video. What is the video about? (Lehigh University)
  5. Title your autobiography. (Wake Forest University)
  6. What is your theme song? (University of Southern California)
  7. In keeping with Rice's long-standing tradition (known as "The Box"), please share an image of something that appeals to you. (Rice University)
  8. Sometimes asking the right question makes all the difference. If you were a college admission counselor, what essay question would you ask? Please craft and answer your own essay prompt – in your response, reflect on what your chosen question reveals about you. (University of Richmond)
  9. Whether you've built blanket forts or circuit boards, produced community theater or mixed media art installations, tell us: what have you invented, engineered, created, or designed? Or what do you hope to? (Tufts University)
  10. You’ve been invited to give a TEDtalk. What is yours about? (University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill)
  11. UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message? (University of Virginia)
  12. Wislawa Szymborska said, “You can find the entire cosmos lurking in its least remarkable objects.” Help us see something ordinary in an extraordinary light. (Brandeis University)

Not sure how to answer unusual college application essay questions like these? Here are some tips to help.

Have you come across some other cool, strange, or creative essay questions? Tell us in the comments below!

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:

Required Question:

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?

-Anonymous Suggestion

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.

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