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.
City Debate #10: Follow Vienna: Subsidize More Housing!
Vienna, one of the world’s most livable cities, has no affordable housing crisis. Four-fifths of new housing is government subsidized. Should Greater Vancouver follow suit?
Join us for the debate and come early to have a drink and explore The Vienna Model: Housing for the 21st Century exhibition.
Date: Wednesday, May 17
Time: 6:00pm - 7:30pm Drink Bar and Exhibition Viewing, 7:30pm - 9:00pm Debate
Tickets: Adults: $15.00 + GST. MOV Members: $12.00 + GST.
Thom Armstrong has more than 30 years of experience in Canada’s co-operative housing movement, holding leadership positions in Saskatchewan, Ontario and BC. Since September 2000, he has been the executive director of the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC and three Community Land Trusts, all headquartered in Vancouver, BC.
Gabu Heindl, architect, urban planner, theorist and Chairwoman of ÖGFA | Austrian Society for Architecture“ specializes in public interventions, cultural and social buildings, urban research and planning. She currently teaches at the Academy of Fine Arts, publishes widely, and curates exhibitions, lectures and symposia on politics in architecture and urban planning. www.gabuheindl.at
Tom Davidoff, associate professor at UBC's Sauder School of Business, obtained degrees from Harvard, Princeton and MIT. Tom has worked in real estate development in Brooklyn, at UC Berkeley, and with two startup real estate intelligence companies; and has advised the White House on housing and mortgage policy.
Antonio Gómez-Palacio is afounding partner of DIALOG and has worked on a range of projects including urban intensification, master planning, mixed-use, transit, heritage, economic development and sustainability, as facilitated through participatory processes. Antonio is regularly called upon to front a strategic conversation on how to deliver city-building objectives through public and private initiatives.
Moderator: David Beers. David founded The Tyee, Canada’s highly awarded independent online source for news and ideas. His solutions-focused journalism has been widely published in Canada and the US. He was an editor at Mother Jones and the Vancouver Sun, and is adjunct professor at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism.
Debate Organizer: Urbanarium
Sponsors: SALA, Tyee, Anthem, ReThink, RHA, Reliance, Powershifter, Adera, HCMA, Creative Mornings, Henriquez, MOV
The Vienna Model: Housing for the 21st Century exhibition curated by Wolfgang Förster and William Menkins, explores housing in Vienna, Austria, through its portrait of the city’s pathbreaking approach to architecture, urban life, neighborhood revitalization, and the creation of new communities.
Museum of Vancouver
SFU Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology
SFU Institute for the Humanities
SFU School for the Contemporary Arts
SFU Urban Studies Program
UBC School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture
Vancity Office of Community Engagement