The famously quirky University of Chicago essay prompts are out for next year. Are all of the extended essay options different? Of course they are. Repeats aren't UChicago's style. But if you fell in love with one of the prompts from last year, don't despair. As always, you can choose any of the previous prompts... or even make up your own.
We'll have a full guide out for you soon, but in the meantime, let's take a look at the University of Chicago essay prompts for 2019-20. (While there are no specified word limits, we recommend that you keep your responses in the 500-600 word range.)
Let's start with the "Why Chicago" prompt. The only required prompt, and the only one that hasn't changed since last year.
Question 1 (Required)
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 essentially a "Why Chicago" essay. The key here is to show how your own qualities and goals connect to specific resources that are unique to Chicago. (If you need help getting started, remember that Prompt's free brainstorming tools include a "Why this University" module).
For the extended essay, you have options. A LOT of options. If you want to pick Option 6, don't forget to check out our guide to last year's questions!
Question 2: Extended Essay (Required; Choose one)
Essay Option 1
Cats have nine lives, Pac-Man has 3 lives, and radioactive isotopes have half-lives. How many lives does something else—conceptual or actual—have, and why?
—Inspired by Kendrick Shin, Class of 2019
Essay Option 2
If there’s a limited amount of matter in the universe, how can Olive Garden (along with other restaurants and their concepts of food infinity) offer truly unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks? Explain this using any method of analysis you wish—physics, biology, economics, history, theology… the options, as you can tell, are endless.
—Inspired by Yoonseo Lee, Class of 2023
Essay Option 3
A hot dog might be a sandwich, and cereal might be a soup, but is a ______ a ______?
—Inspired by Arya Muralidharan, Class of 2021 (and dozens of others who, this year and in past years, have submitted the question “Is a hot dog a sandwich,” to which we reply, “maybe”)
Essay Option 4
“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” – Jessamyn West
—Inspired by Elizabeth Mansfield, Class of 2020
Essay Option 5
UChicago has international campus centers around the world, but we don’t have any interplanetary, interstellar, or interdimensional campuses… yet! Propose a spot in time or space, in this or any universe, for a new UChicago campus. What types of courses would be taught at this site? What cultural experiences await students who study there?
—Inspired by Peter Jasperse, Class of 2022
Essay Option 6
“Don’t be afraid to pick past prompts! I liked some of the ones from previous years more than those made newly available for my year. Also, don’t worry about the ‘correct’ way to interpret a question. If there exists a correct way to interpret the prompt I chose, it certainly was not my answer.”
—Matthew Lohrs, Class of 2023