University of Chicago Prompts have arrived

The University of Chicago is known for its ‘outside the box’ undergraduate application writing prompts.  For the Class of 2015, they have arrived and once again, are quite interesting.

Here they are!

Every year, the University of Chicago breaks away from the traditional college essay mold and asks our applicants to consider topics that are a little… uncommon. In past years, we’ve asked to hear your favorite joke, your thoughts on Wednesdays, or your best attempt to pinpoint Waldo’s whereabouts. These unconventional prompts are a chance to show your creative intellect and explore an unusual topic in a surprising and profound way – wherever your imagination leads you.

And now, here is a sneak peak at this year’s exciting, interesting, and inspiring essay questions – weeks before our supplement is released. So: drumroll, please! The 2014-2015 University of Chicago essay questions are:

  1. What’s so odd about odd numbers? Inspired by Mario Rosasco, Class of 2009.
  2. In French, there is no difference between “conscience” and “consciousness”. In Japanese, there is a word that specifically refers to the splittable wooden chopsticks you get at restaurants. The German word “fremdschämen” encapsulates the feeling you get when you’re embarrassed on behalf of someone else. All of these require explanation in order to properly communicate their meaning, and are, to varying degrees, untranslatable. Choose a word, tell us what it means, and then explain why it cannot (or should not) be translated from its original language. Inspired by Emily Driscoll, an incoming student in the Class of 2018
  3. Little pigs, french hens, a family of bears. Blind mice, musketeers, the Fates. Parts of an atom, laws of thought, a guideline for composition. Omne trium perfectum? Create your own group of threes, and describe why and how they fit together. Inspired by Zilin Cui, an incoming student in the Class of 2018
  4. Were pH an expression of personality, what would be your pH and why? (Feel free to respond acidly! Do not be neutral, for that is base!) Inspired by Joshua Harris, Class of 2016
  5. A neon installation by the artist Jeppe Hein in UChicago’s Charles M. Harper Center asks this question for us: “Why are you here and not somewhere else?” (There are many potential values of “here”, but we already know you’re “here” to apply to the University of Chicago; pick any “here” besides that one). Inspired by Erin Hart, Class of 2016.
  6. In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose a question of your own. If your prompt is original and thoughtful, then you should have little trouble writing a great essay. 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.

If you want to get a head start on your application – before you get bogged down with school work and the exciting ride that is senior year of high school – UChicago Accounts will open in mid-June, where you will be able to submit your UChicago supplement early if you’d like to! To offer more flexibility and freedom in the application process this year, you have a choice to apply to UChicago using either the Universal Application or the Common Application. The Universal Application will be available starting July 1st and the Common Application will be available August 1st. So while you’ve got time (and a clear head), take a deep breath, relax, and explore the questions – perhaps one will strike a chord with you!

Enjoy your summer vacation and best wishes for the coming year.