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Jackie Burrell

Quirky College Apps Essays

By November 21, 2009

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Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images I'm sitting here, nagging my high school senior about the college apps that are due in a few days. A timer is ticking - figuratively and literally - and that essay is going to be done today. Oh yes, it is.  So she's scribbling and I'm sitting here, exuding moral support as I contemplate really weird essay topics from colleges hither and yon. CNN.com has a marvelous excerpt from MentalFloss: a list of 10 offbeat topics, many of them from the University of Chicago, which is notorious for its weird, student-inspired prompts, such as "How do you feel about Wednesday?" Also on the list, Wake Forest's "What outrages you?" and Tufts' "Are we alone?" Mmmmkay. That one's going to elicit plenty of sci-fi abduction tales and religious treatises.

NYU suggest students "write a haiku." The Mental Floss writer obliges with, "Oh please, NYU/College essays are stressful/Don't make me do this."

But my favorite isn't on the list. In 2007-08, the University of Chicago asked students to unleash their inner improv artist and pen a script that included the James Joyce line, "And yes I said yes I will yes," as well as four out of the following possible items: "a paper airplane, a transformation, a shoe, the invisible hand, two doors, pointillism, a fanciful explanation of the Pythagorean Theorem, a ventriloquist or ventriloquism, the Periodic Table of the Elements, the concept of jeong, number two pencils." No superhero references allowed.

I'd mention it to my daughter, but as the deadline ticks down ... hmm, not such a good idea.

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