Quirky College Application Essay Prompts (2014-15)

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These Unusual College Essay Prompts Require Applicants to Dig Deep and Get Creative

It’s that time of year again! Essays, essays, and more essays! As the college Class of 2019 dives into their college applications, one admissions trend is holding true – college essay prompts are getting quirkier every year.

Colleges that use the Common Application or Universal College Application often include supplements with additional essay or short answer questions as a way to get to know applicants better. Supplements are a key part of a student’s application as it demonstrates interest and provides the admissions committee with information that they might not otherwise learn from other portions of the application.

In order to delve deeper into the minds of applicants, colleges have been coming up with unusual and quirky essay prompts every year – with each year quirkier than the last! These unorthodox essay prompts may seem nonsensical at first, but they offer applicants a great opportunity to set themselves apart.

Here are some quirky and unusual supplement questions and essay prompts from this year’s college applications:

  • What one invention would you uninvent if you could, and why? (Brandeis University)
  • Every name tells a story: Tell us about your name – any name: first, middle, last, nickname – and its origin. (Dartmouth College)
  • On September 27, 1777 Lancaster served as the nation’s capital for a single day. If you could do anything or be anyone for one single day, what would you do? (Franklin & Marshall College)
  • Describe your favorite “Bazinga” moment. (Lehigh University)
  • What scientific discovery or technological advancement in the future will most impact your life as an adult? Explain why. (Scripps College)
  • What matters to you and why? (Stanford Universty)
  • Celebrate your nerdy side (Tufts University)
  • Little pigs, french hens, a family of bears. Blind mice, musketeers, the Fates. Parts of an atom, laws of thought, a guideline for composition. Omne trium perfectum? Create your own group of threes, and describe why and how they fit together. (University of Chicago – inspired by student in the Class of 2018)
  • To tell us more about yourself, please complete the following sentences using only the space provided.

    When I grow up…

    The most interesting fact I ever learned from research was…

    In addition to my major, my academic interests include…

    My favorite thing about last Wednesday…

    Someone who influences me is… (University of Maryland)

  • UNC Professor Barbara Fredrickson – an expert in positive emotions – has defined love as “micro-moments of connection between people, even strangers.” Tell us about a time when you experienced a “micro-moment of connection.” What did you learn? (University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill)
  • Tell us about Spiders. (University of Richmond)
  • What sets your heart on fire? (Villanova University)
  • What outrages you? Why? (Wake Forest University)
  • Imagine yourself in a tutorial at Williams. Of anyone in the world, whom would you choose to be the other student in the class, and why? (Williams College)
  • Consider the meaning of ”fair”. What impact does fairness – perceived or actual – have in society and your life? Has fairness ever helped or hurt you personally? At what cost or benefit to you or others? (Washington and Lee University)

BONUS: Bard College offers an alternative application known as The Bard Examination. In lieu of a traditional application, students submit four 2,500-word essays on topics ranging from science and math to social science and philosophy. What makes these essay questions so unusual? It’s not so much the questions themselves, but how the essays are used. Students must write full, academic essay responses that are then graded. Students who score a B+ or higher on the exam will then be granted admission.

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