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Not-Your-Average Application Essay Prompts


Aug 5, 2011
So, you have your heart set on one college and you're about to write your application essay. The prompt is “If you could balance on a tightrope, over what landscape would you walk?” Wait...what? Believe it or not, this really is a prompt from the University of Chicago, an institution famous for strange essay prompts designed to make the process of applying to college less painful. Of course, strange questions like UChicago's may have the opposite effect – a more stressful application process – on some people. C’mon, how many of us have really given thought to what landscape we'd like to walk over when balancing on a tightrope? I know I haven't and I doubt anyone who’s afraid of heights has ever or will ever consider the answer, either, but the point of this question is to show just how [...]
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One of the greatest things about college is making new friends; however, the main goal of going to a university is to do well in your classes and obtain that degree. So what happens when those two college aspects collide? Well, the outcome can definitely vary, as taking a class with a friend or roommate can either be fun or stressful. Let me explain. Freshman year, one of my roommates and I [...]

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There’s no denying that going to college is a life-changing event but the adjustment from high school life to college life can be a tough one. All of a sudden, you are thrust into a world with no parents and no supervision while surrounded by new people, new responsibilities and new pressures. This can all be very overwhelming but fret not, I am here with some advice to help ease this [...]

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Going to a big school can be intimidating. It’s essentially uncharted territory and most of the time you have no idea what to expect. At Pace University, I share my NYC campus with over 7,000 other undergraduate students — talk about big! Still, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Many people ask me if I feel like I’m missing out on the college experience by going to a big school in the city. [...]

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It’s August and most college students realize that summer vacation is coming to an end. This means that we must say adios to sleeping in and hello to 8:00 a.m. classes and afternoon club meetings. Many students are preparing to go back to school now by either buying items for their dorm for the first time or by packing up the things they have taken to college in the past. With three years of [...]

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My time spent on the Methodist University Debate Team was varied and interesting, a very worthwhile college experience overall. Considering joining your school’s debate team? Here’s some info to help you decide. Debate styles and campus rules vary widely. Some schools use policy debate, which consists of large amounts of research, as opposed to parliamentary debate, which allows only 15 [...]

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It should come as no surprise that the number of higher education institutions with social media presences has skyrocketed over the last few years. Today, 98 percent of colleges are on Facebook, 84 percent are on Twitter and some of these savvy schools are beginning to complement the information shared through these platforms with the geo-social site, Foursquare. According to a recent study, [...]

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“What is something that you’re passionate about?” Think about it. Come up with an answer. It was a getting-to-know-you question asked of the participants on my Israel trip at one of our group meetings before our departure. I knew my answer as soon as it was asked – the Olympics, of course – so I settled into my seat and waited for my turn. But the rest of the room was abuzz with worried [...]

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They may attend different schools, have opposite majors, hail from varied backgrounds and covet diverse career aspirations but the one topic that all college students can agree on is that the college grading system is a lot different than the one they encountered during their high school years. Professors curve tests, weigh assignments differently and may never tell you a single grade until [...]

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In college, money becomes a legitimate concern. For the most part, parents have taken care of finances until now and unless you’re lucky enough to come from a wealthy family, college is the first time you’re largely on your own financially. In the weeks leading up to my first semester as a college student, my dad was adamant that I get myself a job. I’d failed in my attempts to get one that [...]

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Scenario: Your dream school is beyond state boundaries but your college fund is more suited to a college closer to home. Don't fret: If you know what and where you want to study, you could score an impressive tuition break through a regional discount program. Here's the breakdown: New England Regional Student Program: Students living in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode [...]

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Sometimes on-campus living is not an option. Dorms are too expensive or overfilled, or housing may not be provided to transfer students. Well, off-campus housing it is! One of most efficient ways to live off campus is to find a friend, relative or even a parent’s friend who lives near the campus to see if they would allow you to stay with them. If you choose this option, make sure the person [...]

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In this age of technology, we have access to nearly unlimited resources to help us learn. You might want to add these URLs to your favorites list: Google Scholar. This site is like the original Google, only smarter! You can search for articles on a topic and narrow your search to articles written during a specific time period, or even limit exclusively to federal or state court documents [...]

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Lately, I’ve been searching far and wide for Neverland – a place where I don’t have to grow older, a place where I can evade responsibility, a place where I can avoid the looming anxiety of college, a place in which to find solace from the fear of independence. Having never been away from home for such an extended period of time, there are a few qualms I have with starting college, a [...]

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Teaching students how to write (and write well) has long been a challenge for educators. Sure, there are always those students with a knack for style and syntax but how can teachers get less-proficient or ESL students excited about writing and bridge the digital divide at the same time? Through blogging. Jon Schwartz, a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher from Oceanside, Calif., found that more [...]

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The first day of classes means new professors, new classmates and a completely new routine. It is also about the time that universities distribute refund checks to students. Refund checks are extra funds that are left over after all school fees have been paid. These funds are the result of excess scholarships, grants and loans. Refund checks can come in handy, as students can use the extra [...]

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There are many options for living on or off campus but what’s the best housing option for you? The most common housing option for a full-time day college student is an on-campus dormitory. As a freshman, I was permitted to join a program called “First Year Experience” or FYE. FYE was for incoming freshmen who had a 3.0 or above grade point average and filled out an application in advance. I [...]

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Everyone has a complaint about the high school they attend. Maybe your school is too small. Maybe it isn’t in a “cool” area. Maybe you think it’s simply boring. Whatever the case, the schools we see on television and in movies seem so much better than our own. They may seem perfect but every high school has as cons as well as pros. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry The pros: Where [...]

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In life, keeping things in order, having a set schedule and planning ahead will truly save you time and keep you on track. In college, staying organized is even more important. When making your shopping list for college, put a planner at the top. I have been using one since I was in elementary school and it has always helped me stay on top of my stuff. It came in handy most in college, [...]

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When you first begin attending college, you may be overwhelmed by the need to participate in as many activities as possible. Doing so is a good idea because it allows you to make new connections throughout the campus and you will more than likely become more comfortable at your school. It is possible, however, to be too enthusiastic when it comes to participating in activities on campus. And [...]

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When the recession hit in 2008, higher education officials wondered how – not if – enrollment numbers would be impacted. Three years later, the damage has been revealed...and it’s not what anyone anticipated. In a new report conducted by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, enrollment of traditional-age, first-time college students rose to 2.135 million in 2010, a 6.8-percent [...]

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Your school needn’t be a known party school for there to be one...or many. Just remember, whether you are throwing a party or attending one, safety should be your first priority. For party attendees: Keep your beverages in hand. If you put your drink down, get a new one; it’s one of the best defenses against being slipped a “roofie” (aka the date rape drug). Employ the buddy system. Guest [...]

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Kindles, eBooks and Nooks are all electronic alternatives to traditional paper bound books that are slowly becoming more and more popular. Though I prefer paper bound books, I must admit that I really want a Kindle but this gadget and others like it don’t really have a place in college classrooms (yet) for several reasons. As anyone who has taken a college course can attest, the books and [...]

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Packing for college can be stressful and frustrating. You buy something you think you are going to need and end up never using it or you forget to buy something and end up making 20 trips to the store on the already crazy move-in day. But fear not, I am here to help. Now I know that colleges give students lists of things to bring with them but those lists can be wrong. Below, I have provided [...]

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There’s good news and bad news regarding state aid for students. The good: State financial aid for college students, including grants, work-study and loans, rose by nearly 4 percent last year. The bad: Just about half of the states surveyed cut need-based grants, even as demand for financial aid increased. The data – from a report by the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid [...]

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Sometimes transferring can be tricky. If you attend the same four-year university from the get-go, you can pretty much follow a checklist of all the classes you need to earn your degree. If you transfer from a two-year school to a four-year school or from a public school to a private school, however, what happens then? In Alabama, I am able to use the STARS (Statewide Transfer and [...]

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