The University of Chicago has long been known for its quirky application essay prompts, in past years asking potential students to “find” Waldo or literally compare apples and oranges.
This year’s questions are no different. Students applying for the UChicago Class of 2019 have the option of writing about what makes odd numbers odd, why you are “here,” or the power of untranslatable words, among other topics.
Because these prompts are not always that easy to tackle, we spoke to a UChicago admissions officer last year who explained what the college is looking for. His advice? There is no model answer, and have fun.
2014-15 Essay Questions:
Essay Option 1.
What’s so odd about odd numbers?
Essay Option 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.
Essay Option 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.
Essay Option 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!)
Essay Option 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).
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