Though all of the prompts UChicago puts out each year and the ones from previous years, which are also options for you to answer are unique, there are a few features that many of the prompts share. The prompts often ask applicants to reflect on, explain, add to, or elaborate on a phrase or idea. Often, this idea or phrase can seem silly on the surface, but these superficially absurd themes link to deeper questions and values.
These prompts can seem intimidating. But remember, this challenge is also an opportunity! UChicago gives its applicants a chance to let their whimsical sides shine through. Embrace this essay as a rare opportunity to have some fun while you show who you are and how you think.
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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Here, the UChicago admissions committee is basically telling you what they are looking for from applicants in these essays. The first step to take advantage of this opportunity is to pick a prompt to answer. However, other applicants struggle to choose a prompt that best fits their unique perspective and experiences.
If this sounds like you, ask yourself these questions:. Even after mulling over these questions, you might still be unsure which prompt to answer. The first sentence of the prompt plays on different sayings and facts about lives. This setup — a fairly simple, though creative question, and then a lot of space to explain your response — is perfect for writers and thinkers who want to display both the wittiness and depth of their thought.
Effectively explaining why something has a certain number of lives will require well-structured thinking and writing, as well as careful reasoning. Before you begin in-depth brainstorming, consider these guidelines:. Drawing on theology, as well as on her own experiences and moral views, the writer might argue that she now believes that it is important to live her life in the present, as if it is her only life.
Example 2: A student who is a long-time runner and artist could write an essay about how running shoes have four lives. Moreover, the applicant could also create a powerful illustration about their belief in creatively reusing and repurposing objects. Example 3: An applicant who is really into cultural commentary and sociology could write an essay on a certain clothing style that has come back into fashion three times.
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This essay could weave together pop culture knowledge, insightful social critique, and funny personal anecdotes to explain why certain styles have so many lives and what this says about our society. This approach could turn this prompt into a great vehicle for an applicant to display their knowledge of the social sciences and their ability to offer insightful analysis of seemingly superficial phenomena.
The ability to thoroughly and engagingly contemplate even mundane phenomena is an impressive one, and an essay the demonstrates this skill could land well with the admissions committee. Example 4: A student who has worked for three summers at a forest ecological reserve could write their essay about the four lives of butterflies egg, larva, pupa, butterfly.
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This essay would go beyond a mere factual description of the butterfly life cycle, and could instead explain what this life cycle has taught them about human life, our ecosystems, and processes of transformation. A topic like this one, like the previous example, offers an opportunity for the applicant to display their specific knowledge of a particular subject area. As you brainstorm topics for your own essay, ask yourself these questions:. Before writing, take a step back from the prompt itself and remember that this is, like the first prompt, an opportunity.
No matter what, this prompt offers you a unique chance to demonstrate how you think — and, potentially, to show your sense of humor. As you dive into planning your response, keep these points in mind:. Though there are obviously many if not infinite! One approach is to focus on using your existing knowledge to answer this prompt in a fairly serious, fact-based way. If you have deep knowledge of any of the disciplines mentioned in the prompt or of other disciplines that you think are relevant , you can construct a compelling response that demonstrates that proficiency.
Example 1: A student who has knowledge of world food systems and of mathematics might do some research into the location and typical business volume of Olive Gardens across the US. Then this student could write up a few equations to demonstrate that it is virtually impossible for Olive Garden to run out of soup, salad, or breadsticks on a given night.
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They could conclude that Olive Garden is able to promise unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks based on the practical reality, not on a theoretical one. Example 2: A student who is knowledgeable about business and psychology could approach this prompt through the lens of those fields. This response could be effective and engaging because it would blend dry, witty cultural commentary and genuinely impressive academic knowledge. This approach could tie strongly into the application of a student whose other application materials demonstrate an interest in psychology, politics, economics, cultural criticism, or even humor or satire.
If you do not have knowledge of relevant disciplines, you can embrace the absurdity and take a more creative approach to this prompt. This could mean:. This prompt offers you a blank slate to consider how one thing relates to another. Perhaps you have overheard — or been part of! During these kinds of debates, people on both sides often have very strong intuitions about what should or should not be classified in a given category.
This prompt gives you the chance to leverage the never-fading debatability of these kinds of questions to show what kind of classification debates interest you.
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The beauty of this prompt is that a strong writer and thinker could turn almost any response into a compelling essay. To avoid sabotaging yourself, consider these tips as you choose a topic; these will help you pick a topic that has strong potential to demonstrate who you are and how you think. Because of the fill-in-the-blank structure of the prompt, your brainstorming should aim to come up with two items, one for each blank. As you think about what words to pick, keep in mind this template for how the two words relate.
Then, the writer could shift to describe how science views tomatoes which are, indeed, technically a fruit. This example has strong potential. This is because it is similar to the other two items in the original prompt; it is 1 also about food and 2 taps into a popular debate. Then the writer could transition to focus on the vast ecosystem impact that human beings have in comparison to the minimal impact of animals. This approach has good potential because it could allow the applicant to demonstrate their knowledge of environmental and ecosystem dynamics while maintaining a witty and engaging tone.
Furthermore, because of the focus on how human beings impact the world around them, the applicant could also demonstrate their broader views and values. The short answer is yes. If you are tempted to take this prompt in a totally unexpected direction, read these words of caution before you begin writing:. Using your unique profile, our free guidance platform helps you calculate your chances at hundreds of schools. We'll also help you understand what areas you need to improve to get into your dream school. This is a classic minimalist prompt; the admissions committee gives you a six-word quote from Jessamyn West, an American novelist and short story writer, along with words to respond to or reflect on the quote.
So, what does this quote actually mean? How can you do this?
Here are a few ideas for broad strategies that you can consider:. A personal approach. Does this question speak to your life and experience? Example 1: A student could write about how Harry Potter, though fiction, exposes universal truths about power, discrimination, and the efficacy of collective action that are often hard to see in day-to-day life.
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The writer could also focus on how this scenario influenced their own actions or view of the world. A historical approach. Example 2: A student could write about a specific artist who used their work to subvert an oppressive regime. To make the essay more personal, the writer could write about their personal link to this art. A creative approach. If you yourself are a creative writer, this prompt could become a canvas for you to display your own abilities.
This could mean incorporating poetry or prose into your response, or even creating a whole short story in response to the prompt. Example 3: Rather than writing an expository piece about why this quote is or is not true, you could use your own creative writing to show how fiction can expose truths that reality conceals.
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One way to do this might be to write a short piece of fiction that depicts something that is not often seen in reality. The ideas above are intended to help jumpstart your brainstorming for this prompt. However, the potential directions that your essay could take are almost infinite!