Supplemental Essays – University of Chicago



“Where fun comes to die” was a popular saying that once characterized the University of Chicago. This was partly because of the rigorous Quarter system that could get stressful or the limited Greek system at UChicago which typically dominates the social scene at other American colleges and universities. UChicago now boasts of an eclectic mix of individuals who are intellectually curious and truly bring uniqueness to its campus. They have enrolled students from over 50 US states and 70 countries and only 10% of the students are in-staters. But this is where the fun begins! As a student applying to this highly selective university, you are in for a glorious ride, for UChicago gains major points in the fun domain through its supplemental essay prompts.

Number of Essays for 2021-22: Two

Essay One

  1. 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.

This is a classic ‘why this University’ and ‘why this Major’ question. To answer this prompt, consider the following points to expand on –

1. UChicago’s Core Curriculum

Considered to be amongst the best Core Curriculums in American Education Landscape, this mandatory curriculum provides students the opportunity to engage in ‘intellectual debate’ and help build ‘multidisciplinary perspectives’. As a University that prides itself on its intellectually curious students, talking about why the Core Curriculum fits what you’re seeking as part of your college education and experience would be positive. This would typically include the sharing of ideas, opinions and perspectives in an attempt to construct and deconstruct the world as we live it.

2. Talk about your Major

What do you absolutely love about the major that you’re applying for? Where did your interest stem from? What courses would you like to take?
3. Bring in some quirk

As you will later learn through the second supplementary question, this prompt would also like you to talk about your idiosyncrasies. A student once spoke about comparing actual worms to gummy worms and while your anecdote may not be as crazy-sounding as this, I assure you that it needs to be crazy enough.

4. Clubs and Organizations

You have done your college search, you would know specific clubs and organizations that are unique to UChicago. Apart from that, do talk about how you’d like to take forward your interests and passions through (though not limited to) any music, drama, dance, robotics clubs.

Essay 2:

UChicago’s second essay is its truly “provocative essay question” that “can be approached with utter seriousness, complete fancy, or something in between.”

Applying students are given a choice of 6 essay prompts to pick from. Here’s a bit of a background to these prompts as described on their website:

“Each year we email newly admitted and current College students and ask them for essay topics. We receive several hundred responses, many of which are eloquent, intriguing, or downright wacky. As you can see from the attributions, the questions below were inspired by submissions from UChicago students and alumni.”

Yes, this is UChicago’s way of demonstrating that this is where fun comes to thrive!

How should you approach this essay?

  1. Remember that there is no right or wrong answer to these questions. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your true passion in whichever way you would like. Although, you could be strategic in selecting the prompt that fits your story the best. Do spend time navigating through the prompts. The best part? You’re allowed to pick a prompt from the previous years or create your own (refer to option 6), so don’t fret, you got this.

  2. Experiment with content and form. If you’re a writer, then flaunt your unique writing style. If you’re an aspiring Astrophysicist, take us to visit another planet through your eyes (Option 1 would be a good choice to explore if you are one indeed). And if you’re an underwater photographer, allow us to dive into the magical world of the sea you see. Play by your strengths.

  3. Start early, especially because this is a creative essay. You would need to go through rounds of editing till you are absolutely satisfied that this is the best depiction of who you are. The purpose to getting a headstart is twofold: it allows you to work with more ideas and then choose the best one and it also lets you fine tune it to the best possible extent giving you the chance to experiment.

  4.  Again, don’t forget the quirk. UChicago appreciates humor and fantasy in this essay, so don’t talk about anything mundane or monotonous. Fire that imagination!

  5. Try writing your ideas for each of the prompts you have selected so that you know which ones have potential and which ones get the Delete button.

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