The University of Chicago has long been renowned for its provocative essay questions. We think of them as an opportunity for students to tell us about themselves, their tastes, and their ambitions. They can be approached with utter seriousness, complete fancy, or something in between.
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.
To begin working on your UChicago supplement visit, getstarted.uchicago.edu, the Coalition Application, or the Common Application.
2017-18 UChicago Supplement:
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.
Extended Essay Questions:
(Required; Choose one)
Essay Option 1.
“The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” – Joseph Joubert
Sometimes, people talk a lot about popular subjects to assure ‘victory’ in conversation or understanding, and leave behind topics of less popularity, but great personal or intellectual importance. What do you think is important but under-discussed?
Essay Option 2.
Due to a series of clerical errors, there is exactly one typo (an extra letter, a removed letter, or an altered letter) in the name of every department at the University of Chicago. Oops! Describe your new intended major. Why are you interested in it and what courses or areas of focus within it might you want to explore? Potential options include Commuter Science, Bromance Languages and Literatures, Pundamentals: Issues and Texts, Ant History... a full list of unmodified majors ready for your editor’s eye is available here: https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/academics/majors-minors.
-Inspired by Josh Kaufman, Class of 2018
Essay Option 3.
Earth. Fire. Wind. Water. Heart! Captain Planet supposes that the world is made up of these five elements. We’re familiar with the previously-noted set and with actual elements like hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon, but select and explain another small group of things (say, under five) that you believe compose our world.
-Inspired by Dani Plung, Class of 2017
Essay Option 4.
The late New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham once said "Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you could do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization." Tell us about your “armor.”
-Inspired by Adam Berger, Class of 2020
Essay Option 5.
Fans of the movie Sharknado say that they enjoy it because “it’s so bad, it’s good.” Certain automobile owners prefer classic cars because they “have more character.” And recently, vinyl record sales have skyrocketed because it is perceived that they have a warmer, fuller sound. Discuss something that you love not in spite of but rather due to its quirks or imperfections.
-Inspired by Alex Serbanescu, Class of 2021
Essay Option 6.
In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose your own question or choose one of our past prompts. 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.
The Chicago Police Board has opened its search for the next Chicago police superintendent, and applicants better be skilled at answering essays.
There are eight essays in all, hitting on every trendy issue confronting police departments — from how to reduce violence and incorporate technology into policing to how to foster a culture of integrity among officers and end bias-based policing.
Applicants can take up to three typed, double-spaced pages to answer each question but also need to sign "a statement of authorship" swearing that they actually wrote the essays.
Whoever wins the competition will take over a police department that will be undergoing a wide-ranging investigation by the U.S. Justice Department of its use of force and other controversies.
Garry McCarthy, who had the post for more than 41/2 years, was fired Dec. 1 by Mayor Rahm Emanuel after the release of a disturbing dashboard camera video of a Chicago police officer shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times roiled the city. Hundreds of protesters have repeatedly taken to downtown streets, calling for the resignations of Emanuel and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. The head of the police oversight agency also resigned.
The mayor named John Escalante, who had only recently been appointed McCarthy's top deputy, to be interim superintendent until a successor can be named and take office. He has not said if he will seek the permanent post.
At the monthly police board meeting Wednesday night, its president, Lori Lightfoot, told an overflow crowd at police headquarters that the public will have the opportunity to weigh in on who should lead the Police Department away from controversy that has gained international attention in the past few weeks.
"We will be holding public hearings as a police board body for the purpose of hearing specifically from the public both about the qualities that you believe the next superintendent should have as well as any specific policies or issues that you believe that we should take into consideration as we interview candidates for this very important position," Lightfoot told the crowd.
The nine-member mayoral-appointed board set a deadline of Jan. 15 for applications to be submitted. The board said it would then interview those candidates it believes are the best qualified before selecting three finalists from which Emanuel would choose.
The board will try to keep the identities of the applicants confidential but warned that the names of the three finalists will become public.
The board said it is looking for a superintendent with the highest standards of integrity, adept at working with the community and news media, and able to motivate police officers to fight crime but avoid misconduct.
A job application posted online on the board's website, ChicagoPoliceBoard.org, lays out the eight essay questions.
The essays cover a wide range of timely topics: How best to set up early warning systems to flag problem officers? How do you convince officers to report misconduct by colleagues? How to increase the diversity among the department's ranks?
They are asked to share their positions on use of force by police in light of "highly publicized issues" in which officers in Chicago and throughout the country were captured on video using excessive force.
Candidates must also give their experience working on terrorism-related matters and explain how their crime-fighting strategies would reduce violence on Chicago's streets, another issue that has given the city an unflattering reputation.