September 11, 2010

Don’t Let the Essay Questions Get You Down!


Design an experiment that attempts to determine whether toads can hear. Provide the rationale for your design; explain your reasons for setting up the experiment as you did. Strive for simplicity and clarity.  ~ Bennington College

Dog and Cat. Coffee and Tea. Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye. Everyone knows there are two types of people in the world. What are they?  ~ The University of Chicago

In our ever-changing society, people have defined “equity” and “community” in many different ways. How do you define these terms and what are the implications of equity and community for our 21st century society?  ~ Lehigh University

Thomas Edison liked to tinker.  “A good imagination and a pile of junk” were his inspirations.  What inspires your original thinking? How might you apply your ingenuity to tackle a vexing problem that confronts us?  ~ Tufts University

What do these essay questions have in common?

  • They are choices for required or optional essays in these schools’ supplements to the Common Application.
  • They are challenging, thought-provoking questions that require thinking and writing responses that are “outside the box” of the standard personal statements.
  • They give the opportunity for students to be honest, creative, and thoughtful.
  • They weed out applicants who are not serious about applying to these schools.
  • They are relatively new questions, posed in an effort to avoid the increasing and troublesome trends of borrowing, recycling, inheriting, and purchasing essays from websites on the internet.

If you are interested in applying to a school, don’t give up on it just because the essay question is a challenge! Take the opportunity to think – and to write a response that makes you stand out as a potential member of the school’s Class of 2015. And, most of all, be yourself!

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