Supplemental essays give college applicants a chance to stand out from the crowd

Every year, the University of Chicago chooses their supplemental essays for their application from ideas submitted by current students and the topics chosen for the 2019-2020 application are as clever as ever. My favorite: If there’s a limited amount of matter in the universe, how can Olive Garden offer truly unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks? Explain this using any method of analysis you wish—physics, biology, economics, history, theology… the options, as you can tell, are endless. —Inspired by Yoonseo Lee, Class of 2023.

Admittedly, the U. Chicago supplements are notoriously challenging, but they serve the same function as the supplemental essays for any college — to give the applicant a chance to show why they are a good fit for the college and the college is a good fit for them. While these essays can be a lot of work, students should respond carefully and thoughtfully as colleges find these essays to offer rich information about the student’s character, abilities, interests, and intellectual ability. While there are as many ways to respond to these essay prompts as there are breadsticks at the Olive Garden, whatever you choose to share, be sure to write something that reveals your authentic self.