Advertiser disclosure

How to Respond to the University of Chicago Supplemental Essay Prompts

Chicago isn’t known only for its deep dish pizza. It is also famous for being home to the prestigious University of Chicago, which has an acceptance rate in the 7% range. So, let’s learn how to make your UChicago supplemental essay question responses stand out! Applicants must complete two UChicago supplemental essays. To make your responses perfect, complete some research before! Figure out what it is about UChicago (besides deep dish goodness) that makes you want to attend their school! 

The University of Chicago is also famous for having some…unique supplemental essay questions. So, put on your creative cap and get ready to have some fun while responding to UChicago’s supplemental essay questions. Here’s our guide for how to ace these creative UChicago supplemental essays!

Also see: How to write an essay about yourself

Essay question #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 your typical “Why us” essay. However, do not make your response boring or universal! Make it specific to UChicago. Use this space to really detail why this school is the perfect fit for you. 

Explore both the academic and extracurricular aspects of the university that stand out from others. Maybe you are extremely passionate about majoring in biology to soon become a doctor one day. Therefore, discuss what courses, research, and study abroad opportunities UChicago has to offer that will make this goal attainable. It is important to touch upon what you want your future to look like and how UChicago will get you to reach all of your goals. It is also important to touch upon the aspects of their school that makes them unique. What makes UChicago stand out from all of the other schools you are considering? 

Overall, an admissions officer reading your essay should have a good sense of what you are looking to get out of UChicago. In addition, they should easily be able to see how much research you have done and how serious you are about attending their university. 

Questions to consider

  • What makes UChicago unique from other colleges? 
  • Why are you excited to attend UChicago? 
  • Why did you choose to apply to UChicago? 

Also see: How to write a 500 word essay

Essay question #2: The extended essay

For the extended essay portion of your application, UChicago provides applicants with six unorthodox essay options. Each of these choices were created by UChicago alumni and students, which means these questions were made with you in mind. They also emphasize creativity and unique ideas when responding to these prompts, so try to have fun with them! 

Option #1

“Was it a cat I saw? Yo-no-na-ka, ho-ka-ho-ka na-no-yo (Japanese for “the world is a warm place”). Może jutro ta dama da tortu jeżom (Polish for “maybe tomorrow that lady will give a cake to the hedgehogs”). Share a palindrome in any language, and give it a backstory.” 

At first glance, you’re probably wondering what in the world a palindrome is. To answer that question, it’s something that reads the same way backwards as it does forward.  They are often overlooked, but can be fun to use. For example, the name Hannah is a palindrome.

While it might be difficult coming up with one on your own, palindromes can be found in poetry or can be simple words like racecar or mom. This essay is a chance to show the impact a single word or a short phrase can have.

Questions to consider:

  • What makes this palindrome stand out?
  • Why do you want to write about this specific palindrome? 
  • Are there any popular palindromes that you can remember? 

Option #2

“What advice would a wisdom tooth have?”

While this question is a little silly, it’s an ideal option if you want to highlight your storytelling side. Applicants could even come up with a backstory or create a funny anecdote about their own wisdom tooth removal.

However, try to steer clear of the typical “Stay away from sweets, you’ll get cavities!” approach and come up with something new and unusual. You might even be able to connect it to a real life lesson you’ve learned over the years to add a sentimental value to your essay. 

Questions to consider:

  • Why is this advice valuable?
  • What advice do you think everyone should know?
  • How might you implement this advice while at UChicago?
  • What advice have you heard over the years that resonated with you?

Option #3

“You are on an expedition to found a colony on Mars, when from a nearby crater, a group of Martians suddenly emerges. They seem eager to communicate, but they’re the impatient kind and demand you represent the human race in one song, image, memory, proof, or other idea. What do you share with them to show that humanity is worth their time?”

We’ve all heard the popular sci-fi reference, “Take me to your leader.” Well, in this prompt, the admissions office is asking their applicants to take the aliens on an adventure through humanity. It’s also the perfect way to figure out what UChicago applicants value. Picking a certain song or memory or movie says a lot about your personality and your character. 

Don’t forget to connect your essay back to UChicago whenever possible. For instance, if you chose a book because you’re passionate about literature, try to explain how that all fits in with your desired degree path. 

Questions to consider:

  • What experiences make us human? 
  • How does your image, song, memory, or other idea relate to attending UChicago?
  • What pieces of humanity do you value most?

Option #4

“UChicago has been affiliated with over 90 Nobel laureates. But, why should economics, physics, and peace get all the glory? You are tasked with creating a new category for the Nobel Prize. Explain what it would be, why you chose your specific category, and the criteria necessary to achieve this accomplishment.”

You might be somewhat familiar with the Nobel Prize, and if not, there are five categories for this achievement: literature, peace, physics, chemistry, and medicine/physiology. So, when you come up with your own nomination, try to avoid common or similar options. 

You could make a Nobel Prize for your desired major or go a different route to showcase a category that you feel is underrepresented. By doing this, the admissions office will be able to see what you value or what you want to pursue, and why. 

Questions to consider:

  • What do you know about the Nobel Prize?
  • Who would win in your Nobel Prize category?
  • What career or position do you think is overlooked?

Option #5

“Genghis Khan with an F1 racecar. George Washington with a SuperSoaker. Emperor Nero with a toaster. Leonardo da Vinci with a Furby. If you could give any historical figure any piece of technology, who and what would it be, and why do you think they’d work so well together?”

The examples UChicago includes in this prompt are quite humorous, so you might feel that you have to make your essay funny. However, humor isn’t your only option. Instead, applicants could use this essay as an opportunity to convince the admissions office that giving a historical figure a piece of technology could lead to untold advancements. 

This prompt is a way to evaluate your ability to persuade the reader, and the more persuasive you are, the better! Even if you’ve decided to go the comedic route, you should still present your argument in a clear way for the admissions office to understand. 

Questions to consider:

  • Why did you choose this combination?
  • Who is your favorite historical figure?
  • What is a notable piece of technology that you value?

Option #6

“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!”

This prompt is your chance to create something completely new and unlike any other application UChicago has ever received. Use your creativity to the fullest extent and figure out your own way to showcase your personality. However, make sure you don’t go too overboard and stay focused on your goal of getting into UChicago. 

Try not to make your essay revolve around your academic achievements. Instead, tell a story of how you’ve grown and what led you to UChicago’s doorstep, or describe an old proverb and how it relates to your life. Either way, your options are unlimited and making your own prompt demonstrates your interest in attending this university. 

Questions to consider:

  • What story do you want to tell the admissions office?
  • How can I best showcase your knowledge or skills?
  • What are some of the older UChicago prompts that caught your eye?

Next steps after applying to UChicago

Now that the fun is over, and you have completed your UChicago supplemental essays – it is time to celebrate! Treat yourself to some deep dish pizza because you are one step closer to the Windy City!

Now, continue to show that you are interested in the university! You can do this by following their social media accounts, scheduling a tour, and reaching out to their admissions officers. Doing any of these will prove you are willing to take the next step with UChicago. 

After you have proven your interest in the school, time to sit back and relax! All the hard work is over. Soon enough, you will be relaxing in a dorm that overlooks the city of Chicago. 

Additional resources

We know that being a student applying for colleges is not easy. There are a lot of tough choices that need to be made when it comes down to selecting a college. Once you start hearing back from colleges you should use our college comparison spreadsheet to help you. You can also check out our guide to how many schools to apply to in order to ensure you’ve got yourself covered.

In addition, be sure to check out our free scholarship search tool to help you choose a financially smart educational institution! It is always important to consider finances when selecting a college. Good luck on your college journey! Remember you will always end up where you need to be! 

Start your scholarship search
  • Vetted scholarships custom-matched to your profile
  • Access exclusive scholarships only available to Scholarships360 members
Get Started

Additional colleges to consider