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The Supplemental Admissions Essays Are Out, U Chicago Says, “Write Whatever You Want”

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alarmclockcropThe race to 2015-16 college admissions has begun and (to mix our metaphors) this week has already seen a flurry of colleges release their essay prompts for the coming year. ICYMI: UVa, UNC Chapel Hill, University of Michigan, and Georgia Tech have all posted their prompts, and we can all expect this onslaught to continue in the coming weeks.

As colleges across the country persist with classic prompts, asking students to respond to quotes, describe their influences, and otherwise explain how they would fit into their future campus communities, The University of Chicago continues on its quest for Lady-Gaga-esque originality with this year’s batch of “Uncommon Application” Extended Essay Questions. These unconventional gems of college admissions lore are known to push students to their creative limits. While the English nerds may jump for joy and the future engineers quake in their boots, we’d like to draw everyone’s attention to the last two prompts:

Essay Option 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.

Essay Option 7.

In the spirit of historically adventurous inquiry, to celebrate the University of Chicago’s 125th anniversary, please feel free to select from any of our past essay questions.

In other words: write whatever you want! For those who blanched at the thought of exposing their personal paradoxes (Option 2) or got tangled up in puns trying to come up with their own “Babe Ruth Bader Ginsburg” (Option 3), there is a way out. This liberation from prompts can be daunting in its own way, though. So we are here to remind you that brainstorming is your friend. Taking some time to search your memory, freewrite, or even just play can help you provide a fresh response to a classic prompt, navigate an uncommon prompt, or even choose your own adventure. At the end of the day, you should always be writing about whatever you want.

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