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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
There are six options you can choose from for your second supplemental essay. Here we’ll walk you through each one.
“What if the moon were made of cheese? Or Neptune made of soap? Pick a celestial object, reimagine its material composition, and explore the implications. Feel free to explore the realms of physics, philosophy, fantasy…the sky is the limit! —Inspired by Tate Flicker, Class of 2025
UChicago is notorious for their fun and creative supplemental essay questions created by current students and alumni. This is the time to be creative and get your personality on the page!
Let your imagination run wild with your answer to this question. You can be as original and creative as you want to be but make sure to always tie your response back to yourself and your personality. Remember, an admissions officer wants to get to know the real you so make that shine through!
For example, you can choose to write about Neptune being made of soap. You can then tie it to the benefits of soap for cleaning pollution off of wildlife and how astronauts could deliver this Neptune soap to help clean Earth’s oceans!
Or you can go lighter on the topic and choose to write about how Saturn’s rings are made up of strings that can be placed on any instrument to create beautiful and “out of this world” (pun-intended) music! You can then tie this to your current passion of learning to play the guitar!
See, it’s pretty easy to be super creative with this response while tying it back to something you are passionate about and revealing a piece of your amazing personality.
Choose any combination for this response but make sure to highlight your own personal values and interests in your response!
“What’s so easy about pie?” —Inspired by Arjun Kalia, Class of 2025
This question is amazing because you can answer it literally or be creative!
If you are answering this supplemental question literally you can begin talking about baking pies and eating pies and what that means to you. Maybe you are a stress-baker and pies got you through some tough times during high school or maybe you work at a bakery and love coming up with new pie recipes.
Or maybe this question is being even more literal and asking about the word pie itself. Maybe pie is easy because it is a three letter word with two vowels. Or maybe it is easy because it is one syllable.
Or maybe this question means that the act of baking a pie is easy because there are step-by-step instructions that you must follow to complete it and if you do not go off track your pie will turn out perfect.
Ultimately, there are a million ways to interpret this question. It is quite overwhelming when you begin to think about it, and you will probably end up in a pie-spiral!
Just remember to justify your answer and reveal pieces of your personality! If you do these two things you cannot go wrong with answering this question.
“In Homer’s Iliad, Helen had a “face that launched a thousand ships.” A millihelen, then, measures the beauty needed to launch one ship. The Sagan unit is used to denote any large quantity (in place of “billions and billions”). A New York Minute measures the period of time between a traffic light turning green and the cab behind you honking. Invent a new unit of measurement. How is it derived? How is it used? What are its equivalents?”—Inspired by Carina Kane, Class of 2024, and Ishaan Goel, Class of 2025
This is one of the more lengthy of the UChicago supplemental essay questions, however, do not let this deter you from answering this prompt. Ultimately, it is asking you to create your own unit of measurement.
Once again, there is a lot of creative freedom and opportunity to reveal a lot about your personality with this prompt.
The first step should be to brainstorm. Think about all of your hobbies, extracurricular activities, sports, and anything else you do in your free time. These can help you come up with new ideas for measurements.
For example, maybe you love to volunteer at an animal shelter, Therefore, your new unit of measurement can be how many licks a dog gives you when it sees you can mean how happy a dog is.
Or maybe you love to experiment with makeup. So, the number of times you need to use a makeup wipe to fix mistakes while completing a new look can relate to how well your makeup looks.
The most important aspect of this prompt is to reveal a passion of yours. Choose a fake unit of measurement that relates to some aspect of your life!
“There is no such thing as a new idea” – Mark Twain. Are any pieces of art, literature, philosophy, or technology truly original, or just a different combination of old ideas? Pick something, anything (besides yourself), and explain why it is, or is not, original.—Inspired by Haina Lu, Class of 2022
This option is one of the broader essay questions asked. This means there is a lot of freedom and variety allowed in your response. Therefore, you can be as broad or as narrow and detailed as you want.
It is best to start off with either something you have seen or heard that sounds unoriginal or completely original. Then base your response on that.
For example, there are so many instances of musical artists suing other artists for copying their work. So, you can pick one of those examples and discuss your opinions on it!
The most important thing with this response is that your answers are justified with your opinions. Do not just state that something is an original piece of work or a completely unoriginal piece of work. Rather justify your response! Focus on the why!
“It’s said that history repeats itself. But what about other disciplines? Choose another field (chemistry, philosophy, etc.) and explain how it repeats itself. Explain how it repeats itself.”—Inspired by Ori Brian, AB’19
Did you catch UChicago’s joke in this question? If not, read the question again…
This question is quite similar to the last, however, it is specifically asking for how an academic discipline repeats itself.
This prompt provides the perfect opportunity for you to discuss more about your intended major and why you want to pursue a degree in this topic.
For example, if you are majoring in English you can discuss how certain archetypes or characteristics of main characters seem to repeat themselves in almost all literature.
Or if you are majoring in political science you can discuss how it is always people who demonstrate the same characteristics who gain high status in politics in democratic nations.
Although it is not necessary to write about your intended major, we recommend that you do. It provides the admissions officer with background information on your passions and why you want to pursue that particular major at UChicago.
“In the spirit of adventurous inquiry (and with the encouragement of one of our current students!) 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!”
UChicago lists some of their older questions from previous years that you can answer! There are a lot of fun and creative questions in this bank that you can choose from if the others are not sparking that interest.
Alternatively, if no past or current UChicago supplemental essay questions are enticing, you are able to create a question of your own and answer it. This can be a little risky but can have a big pay-out if you have a flawless question and response.
Ultimately, the question you answer does not matter. Rather it is crucial that you make sure to include your personality, values, and passions in your response. You want the admissions officer to gain a solid understanding of who you are as a person and what you are hoping to get out of UChicago.
As long as you write a compelling response that gives valuable insight into who you are, that is all that matters! Most importantly, have fun with your response. These questions provide a lot of creative freedom and fun that most universities and colleges do not offer in their supplemental essay questions.
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 Chicago!
Now, continue to show that you are interested in UChicago! 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 UChicago, 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.
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!