Uchicago Admissions Essay

Let's post our essays to help next years students get an idea of what they should write.

Here's my Chicago essay exactly as I submitted it (typos included).
Apperently it didn't work :(


Essay Option 2: Destroy A Question

Why?

“There must be an answer.” I thought to myself. I, a thinking being, must be able to deduce the answer to any question I can pose. I could not. Every argument I concocted I just as easily repudiated. I only got back to where I began- nowhere.

I frantically perused the musty pages of the classics in a vain attempt to resolve my question. I found that my question was more often a topic of prevarication than discourse. Plato never pushed beyond his postulate that the universe was eternal and immutable. Descartes’ brilliance collapsed when his haphazard proofs of God’s existence were repudiated. William James simply dismissed the question as unanswerable. It seemed that the great minds spent more time dismissing each other’s work than building their own.

I was lost. In every other field I had studied reason provided a clear path to knowledge. This time, however, reason led me nowhere. Every time I thought I had deduced the logical path to a new idea I discovered faults in my logic that left me in the same place I had started. I could not find any axioms of knowledge.

I consulted a revered theologian. He consigned my question to the mind of god. “But who created god?” I asked, sensing a hole in his answer.

“God is the uncreated creator.” The memorized rebuttal carried with it contempt towards my lack of knowledge of theological canon. I left the conversation refusing to accept any axioms of my existence.

I then sought out a venerated scientist. I asked him my fabled question, expecting a meek response. Instead, he began a dissertation on the mechanisms of the universe. “But why is it that way?” I asked again and again only to be met with another wave of explanations.

“That is what empirical evidence indicates.” He retorted constantly.

“But how do you know your conclusion isn’t like an explanation of the movement of shadows on a wall” I asked alluding to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

“I needn’t concern myself with hypotheses that cannot be falsified. I am a man of science.” His dismissive reply left me in the same place I started.

As I walked out of his office I overheard a toddler importuning his mother. “But why?” he asked time and time again. His mother’s repeated explanations failed to satiate his need for knowledge. He continued probing. Her explanations eventually focused on the existence of the universe. The toddler was not pleased. “Why does the universe exist?”

“It just does,” the mother said as she walked out of earshot.

As I walked on I noted that all three never reached any firm basis for their knowledge. The theologian and the scientist both dismissed the question as unanswerable. In his youth, the toddler refused to capitulate. He continued probing for knowledge beyond what his mother could provide.

My question was fundamentally a question of the mechanism explaining a condition. However, in order to explain something we must be able to observe it. By definition I couldn’t step out of the universe and observe it. I couldn’t answer my question because it was impossible for me to observe the mechanism. I capitulated to the inevitable: my question had no answer.

Post edited by Bill_h_pike on

1· Reply·Share on Facebook

The University of Chicago has long been renowned for its provocative essay questions. We think of them as an opportunity for students to tell us about themselves, their tastes, and their ambitions. They can be approached with utter seriousness, complete fancy, or something in between.

Each year we email newly admitted and current College students and ask them for essay topics. We receive several hundred responses, many of which are eloquent, intriguing, or downright wacky.

As you can see from the attributions, the questions below were inspired by submissions from UChicago students and alumni.

To begin working on your UChicago supplement visit, getstarted.uchicago.edu, the Coalition Application, or the Common Application.

2017-18 UChicago Supplement:

Required Question:

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.

Extended Essay Questions:

(Required; Choose one)

Essay Option 1.

“The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” – Joseph Joubert

Sometimes, people talk a lot about popular subjects to assure ‘victory’ in conversation or understanding, and leave behind topics of less popularity, but great personal or intellectual importance. What do you think is important but under-discussed?

-Anonymous Suggestion

Essay Option 2.

Due to a series of clerical errors, there is exactly one typo (an extra letter, a removed letter, or an altered letter) in the name of every department at the University of Chicago. Oops! Describe your new intended major. Why are you interested in it and what courses or areas of focus within it might you want to explore? Potential options include Commuter Science, Bromance Languages and Literatures, Pundamentals: Issues and Texts, Ant History... a full list of unmodified majors ready for your editor’s eye is available here: https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/academics/majors-minors.

-Inspired by Josh Kaufman, Class of 2018

Essay Option 3.

Earth. Fire. Wind. Water. Heart! Captain Planet supposes that the world is made up of these five elements. We’re familiar with the previously-noted set and with actual elements like hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon, but select and explain another small group of things (say, under five) that you believe compose our world.

-Inspired by Dani Plung, Class of 2017

Essay Option 4.

The late New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham once said "Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you could do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization." Tell us about your “armor.”

-Inspired by Adam Berger, Class of 2020

Essay Option 5.

Fans of the movie Sharknado say that they enjoy it because “it’s so bad, it’s good.” Certain automobile owners prefer classic cars because they “have more character.” And recently, vinyl record sales have skyrocketed because it is perceived that they have a warmer, fuller sound. Discuss something that you love not in spite of but rather due to its quirks or imperfections.

-Inspired by Alex Serbanescu, Class of 2021

Essay Option 6.

In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose your own question or choose one of our past prompts. 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.

0 thoughts on “Uchicago Admissions Essay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *