The Weirdest College Essay Prompts Ever

November 08, 2016

Supplemental essays are often the most personal parts of college applications. Your essay lets you reveal aspects of your life and character that just don’t come across elsewhere. In some cases, though, the essay questions are so strange that they might seem more like puzzles than prompts. Take the following examples.

1. Tufts University

“Kermit the Frog famously lamented, ‘It’s not easy being green.’ Do you agree?”

Tufts University frequently supplies eclectic essay prompts, and this is obviously one of them. After all, it quotes someone who’s made of felt.

Nevertheless, it’s philosophical. It challenges students to define the existential condition “green” in their own way. No doubt many respondents will highlight a quirk that makes them distinct. It could be something physical like being tall, or it could be a personality feature like curiosity. Either way, applicants must decide whether that quality has caused them difficulties. 

Check out our database of successful Tufts profiles for more inspiration!

2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“What do you hope to find over the rainbow?”

This UNC prompt is also framed through the lens of popular culture. It references a song from the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz.”

It’s asking students what they want their futures to hold once they cross a certain threshold. Again, applicants must define their own terms. What is that threshold, the rainbow, that they must pass? Is it school? Is it the search for a true calling? These questions would probably keep the Scarecrow up at night. 

Here are UNC Chapel Hill essay examples!

3. University of Chicago

“What is square one, and can you actually go back to it?”

When it comes to asking offbeat essay questions, the University of Chicago is America’s reigning champ.

This one takes a familiar idiom ― “back to square one” ― and squeezes out its metaphysical implications. When people find themselves on the wrong path in life, to what extent can they go back and fix the problem? Can you really make amends with other people? Is there a point of no return in terms of decision-making?

Take a look at some UChicago success stories. 

4. Wake Forest University

“Give us your top ten list.”

This request must inspire many different kinds of responses. Many students probably submit earnest lists of heroes, career objectives or the struggles they’ve overcome. No doubt others offer humor, perhaps naming their most embarrassing moments or favorite dance moves. Some brave soul might provide ten reasons he or she hates top ten lists.

Would you be sincere or irreverent with your list?

See what others did in their Wake Forest application! 

5. University of Richmond

“Tell us about spiders.”

Here’s another question that’s wide open to interpretation. It also gives applicants the chance to display their unique sensibilities. You could opt for biological descriptions, an examination of how spiders have been perceived throughout history, an autobiographical story about childhood arachnophobia, an amusing look at the world from a spider’s point of view or something else entirely.

You have to wonder, though, how many admissions officers get the willies reading these essays.

Here’s a list of Richmond profiles to help you.

6. Brandeis University

“If you could choose to be raised by robots, dinosaurs or aliens, who would you pick? Why?”

Given the absurdity of its three choices, this question seems designed to test creativity and reasoning skills. How do you construct a logical argument from an illogical premise? How do you advocate for an idea that’s appalling? On the other hand, maybe some people like the notion of robots changing diapers or aliens singing lullabies.

Check out Brandeis University profiles!

Unusual college application essays certainly aren’t for everyone. Many students prefer standard queries about inspiring books or extracurricular activities. However, if you have an urge to show off your imagination and unique writing style, you might start hunting for an essay question as bizarre as those above.

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Which essay prompt has you scratching your heads? Let us know what other strange ones you’ve encountered this application season! If you still need some inspiration, check out AdmitSee’s database of 60,000+ successful college application files

About The Author

Frances Wong
Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.

 




Browse Successful Application Files

SChai
Georgetown ‘18


Accepted to Georgetown, NYU, Barnard, Northeastern

Hi, I'm Shannon! I'm from San Jose, California, spent a gap year living and working in Leipzig, Germany, and now I go to college in Washington D.C. I've shared everything I can remember about the college application process with y'all! :)
mark_pino
UPenn ‘20


Accepted to UPenn

Hello! I'm a Freshman at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. I plan on concentrating in finance, marketing and social impact. In high school I was active in LGBTQ advocacy and music. I can help with any questions you have about admissions
cjjo96
Barnard ‘18


Accepted to Barnard

Barnard '18 | My passions lie in education, psychology, and human rights, all from the lens of an African Studies major. My transcript and application were far from conventional, but neither am I.
niathuravil
Rutgers ‘20


Accepted to Rutgers, NYU, Fordham, UMass, Colorado, MSU, Illinois, Arizona, Washington

Your local political astronaut with a passion for the prolific things in life.

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