Question 1 (Required)
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. (Recommended 250–500-word limit)
The key to responding effectively to this prompt is demonstrating your knowledge of the University of Chicago while explaining why and how is a unique fit for you. Think this through, do your research, and share your excitement. Consider your experiences so far both inside and outside of the classroom. What do these experiences reflect about you? Think about how you go about learning, your sense of community, and your longer-term goals. How might the overall educational experience at the University of Chicago allow you to delve deeper or explore something new? Use specific examples (courses, traditions, clubs, surrounding community, other things that attract you to the school), and explain how they connect to who you are (your values, character, what you enjoy) and the opportunities available to you at the university.
Question 2: Extended Essay (Required; Choose one, recommended word limit around 650 words)
All the following prompts are just jumping-off points for you to express something that excites you and reveals something unique about you. They are somewhat playful in nature but serious in asking you to express your stake and articulate your position. The focus is on how you share your ideas. What you discuss conveys deeper connections to your values and personal character. Each potential response provides insight into the kind of student you might be at the University of Chicago and how you might interact within the educational community.
Essay Option 1: Exponents and square roots, pencils and erasers, beta decay and electron capture. Name two things that undo each other and explain why both are necessary.
– Inspired by Emmett Cho, Class of 2027
Think about the relationship between things – push and pull, yin and yang, dusk and dawn. Articulate the importance of seeing both sides and how each thing is essential for the other. Explain the intricate balance and interdependence.
Essay Option 2: “Where have all the flowers gone?” – Pete Seeger. Pick a question from a song title or lyric and give it your best answer.
– Inspired by Ryan Murphy, AB’21
This is a fun and very broad prompt. Your response allows you to demonstrate your thought process and perspective on specific subjects or the world in general. You can use a question from any song lyric as your starting point to discuss just about anything! As you consider different songs, try to avoid anything that might be construed as offensive.
Essay Option 3: “Vlog,” “Labradoodle,” and “Fauxmage.” Language is filled with portmanteaus. Create a new portmanteau and explain why those two things are a “patch” (perfect match).
– Inspired by Garrett Chalfin, Class of 2027
This is your opportunity to be playful and purposeful with language. You can embrace this prompt as a chance to make connections between seemingly unrelated things. Express your creativity. You can combine any two things. The focus here is on your ability to explain why they are such a good match.
Essay Option 4: A jellyfish is not a fish. Cat burglars don’t burgle cats. Rhode Island is not an island. Write an essay about some other misnomer, and either come up with and defend a new name for it or explain why its inaccurate name should be kept.
– Inspired by Sonia Chang, Class of 2025, and Mirabella Blair, Class of 2027
To address this prompt, you must demonstrate your argumentative skills. This might be a good prompt for someone who enjoys debate. Whether you are coming up with a new name or justifying the inaccurate name, you must be able to clearly articulate your position.
Essay Option 5: Despite their origins in the Gupta Empire of India or Ancient Egypt, games like chess or bowling remain widely enjoyed today. What modern game do you believe will withstand the test of time, and why?
– Inspired by Adam Heiba, Class of 2027
This is another potentially fun prompt! Hmm…pickleball, spike ball, ultimate Frisbee, a new boardgame, a virtual reality video game? The specific game you choose is less important than your ability to articulate why it will withstand the test of time. Make sure to share your personal connection to the game you discuss.
Essay Option 6: There are unwritten rules that everyone follows or has heard at least once in their life. But of course, some rules should be broken or updated. What is an unwritten rule that you wish didn’t exist? (Our custom is to have five new prompts each year, but this year we decided to break with tradition. Enjoy!)
– Inspired by Maryam Abdella, Class of 2026
The way you respond to this prompt will reveal something about how you view the world and operate within it. It might also relate to a sense of fairness, right and wrong, or unfounded assumptions. When is it okay to break the rules? Focus on explaining why you would prefer that a certain unwritten rule did not exist and consider the potential repercussions. Again, this is an opportunity to share your personal connection or affinity with whatever rule you discuss.
Essay Option 7: And, as always… the classic choose your own adventure option! In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, choose one of our past prompts (or create a question of your own). 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!
As this prompt indicates, you can choose your own adventure! You can also respond to any prompt from previous years (the school provides a link to these prompts on its website).
The University of Chicago asks students to submit the extended writing prompts. This practice demonstrates the high value the university places on students’ ideas and perspectives. It also speaks to the school’s desire to attract applicants who will be active and engaged members of the on-campus community. Remember to start early so you have time to write and revise your responses!
Marie Todd has been involved in college admissions for more than 20 years. Marie has both counseled applicants to top colleges and evaluated more than 5,000 applications for the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology; School of Nursing; and Taubman College of Architecture. Want Marie to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch.