Not-Your-Average Application Essay Prompts


August 5, 2011
by Lisa Lowdermilk
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.

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 unique you really are. Colleges receive thousands of applications from hopeful students each year and it stands to reason that reading that many essays on a less interesting topic gets pretty tedious.

That's why questions like UChicago’s are so useful: They force applicants to come up with a unique answer. Are you thinking about majoring in oceanography? If so, you might say that nothing would calm your nerves like walking over the coastline and hearing the sound of the waves lapping at the shore. Are you more of a bookworm considering a major in library science? Maybe walking over stacks of books and thinking about how your favorite characters had to face trials even worse than walking a tightrope would help you keep your balance.

Since no two essays on such weird prompts as the one listed above will be the same – and if they are, you’ve got some explaining to do! – you might as well take advantage of your opportunity to shine!

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.

College is expensive, Scholarships.com is completely free. Pay for your college education with as much free college scholarship money as possible. By applying to all the awards you qualify for, you can be sure to not miss a single opportunity in paying for your college expenses - including tuition, fees, room and board. Get matched to college scholarships instantly and start applying today by conducting a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com.

Discuss

Share your thoughts and perhaps thousands of students will benefit from your unique insight on the subject!



If you can read this, don't touch the following fields


 
 E-tail giant Amazon is now accepting applications to its Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship Program for students entering college in the fall of 2020. The scholarship program offers 100 current high school seniors from underserved and underrepresented communities across the country the opportunity to receive $40,000 scholarships to study computer science at a four-year college or university and a guaranteed paid internship offer at Amazon after the completion of their first year.

Amazon Offers $40K Future Engineer Scholarships

November 6, 2019 1:41 PM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
E-tail giant Amazon is now accepting applications to its Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship Program for students entering college in the fall of 2020. The scholarship program offers 100 current high
In response to the NCAA's vote to allow athletes to profit from their names, images and likeness, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina has proposed taxing those scholarships. Senator Burr tweeted: If college athletes are going to make money off their likenesses while in school, their scholarships should be treated like income. I'll be introducing legislation that subjects scholarships given to athletes who choose to 'cash in' to income taxes.

NC Senator Proposes Taxing of Athletic Scholarships

October 31, 2019 4:02 PM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
In response to the NCAA's vote to allow athletes to profit from their names, images and likeness, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina has proposed taxing those scholarships. Senator Burr tweeted:
Gucci is releasing a new line of... diversity undergraduate scholarships for students who are traditionally underrepresented in the fashion industry. The 1.5 million U.S. university college scholarship program is set to run for four years, targeting students who attend four-year universities. Special consideration will be given to those residing in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Toronto and Washington, D.C and/or for those who plan to attend or are currently attending a Historically Black College and University (HBCU).

Gucci Gaffe Results in Green for Grads

October 8, 2019 2:28 PM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
Gucci is releasing a new line of... diversity undergraduate scholarships for students who are "traditionally underrepresented in the fashion industry." The 1.5 million U.S. university college
Not every student who goes to college completes their degree, much less finishes it within the normal four-year time frame. The Texas of A&M University has spent years working to re-enroll students who stopped out of college for a year or more, and may have found a solution in partnering with ReUp Education.

Texas A&M Working to Re-enroll College Stopouts

September 26, 2019 2:15 PM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
Not every student who goes to college completes their degree, much less finishes it within the "normal" four-year time frame. The Texas of A&M University has spent years working to re-enroll students
 Photo credit: Jared Ames

A new PBS documentary exhibiting prison education, titled College Behind Bars is set to air on November 25 and 26. The four-part series documents the journeys of dozens of incarcerated men and women as they pursue college degrees in the Bard Prison Initiative - deemed one of the most rigorous prison education programs in the United States, according to Inside Higher Ed.

PBS Airs Documentary About Higher Ed in Prison

September 18, 2019 11:53 AM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
Photo credit: Jared Ames A new PBS documentary exhibiting prison education, titled "College Behind Bars" is set to air on November 25 and 26. The four-part series documents the journeys of dozens
The federal government discharged more than $43 million in student loan debt for former students of recently closed for-profit colleges. Students who attended programs operated by Education Corporation of America, Dream Center Education Holdings, Vatterott College and Charlotte School of Law will be able to qualify for a full discharge of their federal loans if they were enrolled when their college closed or withdrew within 120 days of the official closure date and didn’t transfer to another institution, according to Inside Higher Education.

$43M in Loans Forgiven for Students of Closed Colleges

September 6, 2019 9:18 AM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
The federal government discharged more than $43 million in student loan debt for former students of recently closed for-profit colleges. Students who attended programs operated by Education
College Board is ditching its previous plan to capture socioeconomic information from students with a single score - also known as an adversity score - when scoring their SAT college admissions test. The score would have taken into account a student's socioeconomic background and the neighborhood in which they grew up.

College Board Backpedals - No Adversity Score to be Added

August 30, 2019 2:05 PM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
College Board is ditching its previous plan to capture socioeconomic information from students with a single score - also known as an "adversity score" - when scoring their SAT college admissions
Female-only college and university STEM programs are coming under fire for male discrimination as they attempt to redress gender imbalance in fields such as computer science and engineering. The U.S. Department of Education launched more than two dozen investigations into higher education institutions nationwide - including UC Berkeley, UCLA and USC as well as Yale, Princeton and Rice - which offer female-only scholarships, awards and professional development workshops.

Female-Only Scholarships Under Fire In Higher Ed

August 20, 2019 4:57 PM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
Female-only college and university STEM programs are coming under fire for male discrimination as they attempt to "redress gender imbalance" in fields such as computer science and engineering. The