Are admission officers getting bored by reading the usual “my favorite activity” and “why I want to go to Wonderful University” essay prompt responses? Whatever is the cause, some colleges are throwing applicants a curve with supplement essay prompts that require students to dig deep in their imagination — while taking demanding AP classes, heading extracurriculars, and completing a host of other applications, reported Richard Perez-Pena in the New York Times (“Robots or Aliens as Parents? Colleges Gauge Applicants’ Creativity 11/3/13).
While some students enjoy the challenge of being asked to describe themselves via a creative prompt, other find this requirement to be yet another onerous task among so many in the application process. In recent years University of Chicago, particularly known for its unusual essay prompts, featured “So where is Waldo, really?”, “Destroy a question with your answer” and “Write an essay somehow inspired by super-huge mustard” among supplemental essay prompts. Hamilton College asked “If you were reduced to living on a flat plane, what would be your greatest problems? Opportunities?
No doubt some student enjoy a chance to be playful in an otherwise all too serious process. Other, more linear-thinking types, might find such prompts artificial and even unfair. Informed Educational Solutions suggests that it might be fairest for colleges to include at least one straightforward prompt as an option when all of the others demand wild imagination. Not everyone is creative, and creativity is only one of a myriad of desirable features in an applicant.