Check Out University of Chicago's Essay Questions for 2017-2018 Season

While there are many unknowns in the college application process, especially in regards to essay questions, one thing that is predictable is that the University of Chicago will release intriguing essay questions! This year the tradition continues, and students will not be disappointed in their options. Even if you're not applying to college, take a moment to decide which topic you would choose, and consider writing it. It just may lead to an 'Aha' moment...

Essay Option 1.
“The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” – Joseph Joubert

Sometimes, people talk a lot about popular subjects to assure ‘victory’ in conversation or understanding, and leave behind topics of less popularity, but great personal or intellectual importance. What do you think is important but under-discussed?

-Anonymous Suggestion

Essay Option 2.
Due to a series of clerical errors, there is exactly one typo (an extra letter, a removed letter, or an altered letter) in the name of every department at the University of Chicago. Oops! Describe your new intended major. Why are you interested in it and what courses or areas of focus within it might you want to explore? Potential options include Commuter Science, Bromance Languages and Literatures, Pundamentals: Issues and Texts, Ant History... a full list of unmodified majors ready for your editor’s eye is available here:

-Inspired by Josh Kaufman, Class of 2018

Essay Option 3.
Earth. Fire. Wind. Water. Heart! Captain Planet supposes that the world is made up of these five elements. We’re familiar with the previously-noted set and with actual elements like hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon, but select and explain another small group of things (say, under five) that you believe compose our world.

-Inspired by Dani Plung, Class of 2017

Essay Option 4.
The late New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham once said "Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you could do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization." Tell us about your “armor.”

-Inspired by Adam Berger, Class of 2020

Essay Option 5.
Fans of the movie Sharknado say that they enjoy it because “it’s so bad, it’s good.” Certain automobile owners prefer classic cars because they “have more character.” And recently, vinyl record sales have skyrocketed because it is perceived that they have a warmer, fuller sound. Discuss something that you love not in spite of but rather due to its quirks or imperfections.

-Inspired by Alex Serbanescu, Class of 2021

Essay Option 6.
In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose your own question or choose one of our past prompts. Be original, creative, thought provoking. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun.

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Didn't get in early? Or just procrastinating? Here's how you finish up strong!

timeWhile we hope you got in early, if you didn't, you're not alone. More than 70% of applicants who apply early don't get in and many students wait until the last minute. But you can still submit winning applications that get you accepted! For tips, check out this webcast with Dan Stern, founder of College Essay Organizer. It will help you rock the essays for the rest of your schools.

To finish quickly and get accepted, remember that 97% of students who upgrade to our Essay RoadMap finish faster and significantly increase their admissions chances.

Just login here, and enter promo code finish2016 by December 31 for 25% off.

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What to do if You're Deferred

deferAs early application notifications head your way, you may be undergoing some anxious moments. If things don't go your way, remember to keep breathing! It may be helpful to take a moment to reflect on your options moving forward, knowing that ultimately you will wind up at the right place, and that college is more about what you make it than where you go.

If you do get a deferral, you should still continue applying to additional colleges, but there are a few steps you can take that could increase your chances of getting in. This Common App article highlights some important points:

  • A deferral means that you are still in the running along with other regular applicants, and you are no longer bound to accept an offer of admission.
  • Take your time before communicating with the college to ensure that you can calmly express yourself without sending the wrong message.
  • Research what the school recommends you do and don't do. Usually there are some specific steps you can take to let a school know you are still highly interested such as sending along a commitment letter after some time has elapsed.
  • Find out how many deferred applicants have been admitted in past years so that you have a better idea of what to expect.
  • Inquire if taking an additional round of standardized testing would be possible or helpful.
  • Don't blame yourself or your application. Instead, focus on your remaining applications, schoolwork, and relaxing with friends and family as much as possible as you bring in the new year.


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Will You Receive Your College Acceptance Via Snapchat?

wisconsinAs you anxiously await your early admission letters, you have yet another place to look for them! While notifications have largely moved online speeding up the process and allowing for students to be notified at the identical time, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is taking this to a new level.

According to this U. S. News article, the school shared its good news by delivering a photo message via Snapchat since the school knows that much of students' free time is spent on the app. While accepted students still receive a congratulatory email and welcome packet in the mail, this will further speed up delivery, and excited students often respond with a selfie.

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Harvard Student Shares Tips on Writing the College Essay

harvardWriting college essays is definitely the most anxiety-provoking part about applying to college, mainly because so much weight is placed on essays when applying to competitive schools. In fact, colleges often use essays to distinguish students with similar test scores and GPAs. Halie Olson, a senior at Harvard College, shares tips for writing a great college essay that will help you stand out from other applicants:

  1. Just start writing. Sometimes just getting something on the page is the best first step.
  2. Starting over can be the best strategy. When the first attempt doesn't feel right, starting with a new topic can be the way to go.
  3. Ask others to read over your work. An outside perspective is so important to make sure you're on the right track.
  4. Expect multiple drafts. Editing is such an important part of creating a stellar essay.

For the full article, click here.

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November is the busiest time of the year for college essays

ieca_new-orleans-logo-medWhile we won't see you in New Orleans this IECA Conference (we'll be there in the spring), we wanted to let you know that we're thinking of you -- especially since November is the busiest month for college essays now that students are turning from their early applications to all their regular applications.

Email us at [email protected] or call us at 646-448-4927 with any questions at all. And be sure to stop by our partner CollegePlannerPro for more info on how you can access College Essay Organizer through CPP.

In case you haven't checked us out this season, our newest upgrades include:

  • Use our new master account interface through CollegePlannerPro so you can access all your clients' essay reports and alerts on one page, getting a snapshot of everyone's status
  • Set up alerts to be emailed to any counselor you want so students can edit drafts with whomever
  • Track alerts more easily with student and counselor names visible in email subject lines
  • Customize each student's RoadMap with more essay topic options so that you control all writing plans
  • Remove schools on your own from a student's RoadMap so you don't need to look at dropped colleges anymore
  • Keep track of tasks and notes for each student with our new To Do List and Scratchpad features
    Our team of dedicated researchers is extremely proud to have provided you with another season of 100% error-free college essay experience!
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Strengthen Your Admissions Odds Without Extra Effort

More applications doesn't always mean more essays!

More applications doesn't always mean more essays!

As early deadlines approach, students across the country are scrambling to complete their applications. Of course, filling out the application form is not the most stressful and time-consuming part -- it's the shear number of essays that universally make students cringe (just log into your College Essay Organizer account to see what we mean). Just the thought of trying to create stand-out essays when competing with thousands of students with similar numbers is understandably nerve-wracking!

The silver lining to this is that you probably already have your main Common App essay complete (email us at [email protected] if you need any last minute assistance), and while you may be trying to nail down those supplemental essays, adding another couple schools that require no additional essays in addition to the main essay might make perfect sense! It may even allow you to exhale, knowing you have increased your admissions odds. Here's a list of some of the schools that fall into that category:

Middlebury College
University of Denver
State University of New York at Binghamton
Colby College
Connecticut College
Bentley University
West Virginia University
Grinnell College
Gettysburg College
State University of New York at Albany
Florida Southern College
Florida Institute of Technology
Kean University
University of Dayton
Bowling Green State University
Sacred Heart University
University of North Carolina-Asheville

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ALERT: Return to Earlier Essay Question for Univ of Washington Question #3

2000px-university_of_washington_block_w_logo-svgWe recently sent out an email stating that the University of Washington Question #3 had changed from what was previewed earlier on the college's own website. In a rare case of musical essay prompts, the University of Washington's application is now showing the earlier essay question that was posted.

Please call in regards to your own particular situation, but note that the admissions office has stated that it will accept a response to either essay prompt. The earlier essay question has now returned to your College Essay Organizer account. Please find the question below:

University of Washington-Seattle Question #3

Required for all applicants

Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. Community might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the University of Washington.

300 words maximum

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Virginia Tech Adds Essay Options Mid-Season

virginia-tech-school-logo-small-jpgEvery season, there are a few schools that change their essay prompts mid-season after their application has been live for some time (don't worry, we're on top of it for you!). Virginia Tech, which began the application season planning to use the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success but then announced that it won't use it until fall 2017, falls into that category this year.

After initially releasing one set of essay prompt's corresponding with the prompts being used by the Coalition Application with a 300-word limit, it has now released additional prompts and reduced the word limit to 250-300 words. Not to worry for the students who may have already submitted for the upcoming November 1 Early Decision deadlines as they will not be penalized!

Please find the new options below:

You may respond to up to three of the essay prompts below (choose one, two, or three) as you feel they support your individual application.

A) What are the top five reasons you want to be a Hokie?

B) If there is something you think would be beneficial for the Admissions Committee to know as we review your academic history, please take this opportunity to explain.

C) Our motto is Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). How is service to others important in your life?

D) If you could have any superhero power, what would it be and why?

E) We believe strongly in the Virginia Tech Principles of Community and the value of human diversity affirmed therein. Share a perspective or experience related to your culture, age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status that might explain how you will enrich the climate of mutual respect and understanding here.

F) Virginia Tech is one of six senior military institutions in the country. How will this setting contribute to your college experience?

G) Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

H) Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.

I) Has there been a time when you've had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?

J) What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What's the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?

K) Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

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Dan Stern Wins Wine Barrel Award on National Boss Day!

There are few people in the world who impact their employees the way Daniel Stern does! Here's a small snapshot of the mark he makes on the world:


Abby Deutsch

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-6-48-45-pmTo Dan, whose advice is always matter how many years go by before I take it!







Andrew Brotzman

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-9-58-27-pmWorking for Dan has been more than a blessing. He is kind, generous, and friendly. He’s made it possible for me to lead a flexible, free life. And he made this happen (look right).




Bill Gerrard

b943cca835cfa7e83bea6940d26d1a70Hi, Dan! In honor of your day today, I just wanted to thank you for the opportunities, support, and laughs you've given me over the past few years. You're truly a great guy to work for!






Carl Rosenthal

Dan and I have only known each other for a few months, but I guess what sticks with me most is his eclectic tastes. Even in our few conversations, Dan has recommended some really good books and TV shows (I just started reading The Nix upon his recommendation, as well as a lot of cool articles)- It’s the sign of a true Renaissance man- an expert not only in his job but in many other random areas. Also, he is a great ping pong player, and I am still convinced that he hustled me the first time we played!


Cat Pierro

The test is always right.

The test is always right.

The best thing about Dan Stern is that he is not a self-conscious boss or one who tries to sustain studied mannerisms. Nor does he resort to artifice or entangle himself in circumlocutions. The young, middle-aged, and old Dan speaks directly through his emails, which are informal for the most part and which undisguisedly reflect his changing moods. What does all this serve to suggest about Dan? Maybe it's the multifaceted nature of his leaderly persona. Maybe it's the maturity he displayed even as a youth. Or maybe it's the effect aging has had on his temperament. Then again, it could be the longevity of his tutoring career. But I think it's the consistency of his letter-writing style! Dan, thanks for being the same cynical, spontaneous, critical, preachy, or possibly witty guy all year-round.


Dean Beckwith

The tutoring business is rife with bosses who are little more than procdilbert-boss-dayurers: they pair students with tutors and expect magic to just happen. With Dan, however, I feel like I have a genuine partner, someone who has my back if and when the metaphorical feces hits the fan. His overflowing positivity somehow always manages to assuage that most frightful of beasts: the panicked parent.


Diana Stern

image1Dan is always so responsive and helpful. I really value his advice.








Melissa & Melinda Ball

img_5476Dan is a wonderful person to work for. He always supports us and accommodates our busy schedules. He always makes us feel like we are part of a team. Most importantly, he is really fun to talk to about life. He has a lot of wisdom and is a compassionate listener. He is the type of boss that you can come to with not only professional questions but also personal issues. He is great at giving life advice and has tremendous insight into people!



Mike Brotzman

photo25Dan Stern will always hold a special place in my heart, above all else for introducing me to Josh Schoen, and more importantly to Josh Schoen's laptop, and the ketchup thereto applied (look right).






screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-1-45-58-pmI would say the most remarkable thing about Dan for me has been the way in which he fosters a team mentality in his tutors. As a former independent tutor for many years, I have been surprised by how much I have come to value this, and now a year into the job, I am so glad I made the switch.

As a tutor himself, Dan is intimately acquainted with the challenges (and the joys) of what we do -- when things go well with my students, I have felt deeply appreciated, and when things have been difficult, I have felt encouraged. His commiseration with the difficulties of the job have made me feel accepted as part of a tutoring team, which includes Dan himself, Andrew, and Stephanie, in a way I never felt in my previous work. I am grateful that he took a chance on me, and I wish him a happy National Boss' Day!


Steph Morris

We've come a long way!

A look back!

I can’t believe that we’re coming up on 8 years! And if it hadn’t been for Danielle, I might never have known that National Boss Day existed . . . that being said, I do my best to appreciate working for you every day, and I continue to be grateful for finding that Craigslist ad that led me to you during one of my lowest moments.

Since then, you’ve been witness to countless changes in my life, as I've been to yours. As those images run through my head, I want to simply say that you’ve been a constant catalyst for my growth on so many levels, and that means so much more to me than any job could offer. And you’ve played so many roles to me from employer to empathetic advisor to giggle buddy. To top it off, MAP has grown at a tremendous rate, and continues to support not only a wonderful band of tutors, but also the hundreds of families it guides along the way. In short, I count you and the MAP/CEO team as family, and look forward to the many more views we will share along the way.


Zach Tomasovic

woody-allenHappy National Boss Day Dan! Though I'm still very much the new guy, it's never felt that way. Thanks for welcoming me into the MAP tutor community with open arms- it's been a real pleasure tutoring so far. I took your recommendation to read Getting Even by Woody Allen by the way- what a great read!







And (drum roll, please!) Danielle Stern

Dan promoting CEO at a conference while his father Jon Stern looks on. Also proof that Dan owns a button down shirt!

Dan promoting CEO at a conference while his father Jon Stern looks on. Also proof that Dan owns a button down shirt!

I’m not writing this part as your wife. I’m writing it as your business partner. The person who has been by your side for every big meeting, new hire, and important decision in the past five years. The person who has watched you take a side hustle you started as a way to support your passion for journalism, and turn it into a business that has helped so many others make money while pursuing their dreams. The person who has seen you act as a friend, therapist, mentor to clients and employees alike. The person who has watched you assemble a remarkable team that produces astounding, phenomenal, odd defying results, year after year.

I’m not writing this part as your business partner. I’m writing it as your wife. The person who has seen one too many dinners go cold because you were talking a client off the ledge. The person who knows you always go to bat for your employees, even when disgruntled clients try to hold them accountable instead of their own children. The person who knows you take calls at all hours of the day, from the crack of dawn to long past when any reasonable person should be calling anyone, always trying to secure new business so all your tutors are continually satisfied with their workload. The person who knows how long your daily to-do list is. The person who knows how many times you’ve worked through the night until the sun came up.

A few years back, you instituted the Wine Barrel Award in honor of your father, Jon Stern. A successful businessman who espoused the importance of hard work, ethics, integrity, going the extra mile, never cutting corners, and someone who put equal importance on making sure both his clients and employees were happy. This year, we have come to the easy conclusion, that there is no one more deserving of this award than you. Somewhere your dad is looking down, beaming with pride and a huge grin, saying, “My son, Dan… he’s just the best.” And we couldn’t agree more.



wine-barrel-award-image-1The story is set in Europe in the early 1900’s where small, self-sufficient communities called shtetls dotted the map. They were like their own small economy where everything they needed was provided by someone in the community. The shtetls were run by elders and there was a doctor, a teacher, a shoemaker, a blacksmith, a seamstress, farmers and more. You get the picture. Well this one small Jewish community in particular was facing some danger with its grape crop. Because of the harsh weather, it looked as though there would not be enough wine to make it through the winter months with enough wine left over to celebrate Passover.

So the elders erected a huge wine barrel in the center of town and built stairs to reach the top of it. Then they stated that each family save a small amount of wine each night in the bottom of their bottles, bring it to the wine barrel, and pour it in. This way, by the time Passover arrived, the town would have ample amounts of wine for the celebrations.

Each night you could witness people traipsing across the cold and frigid evenings, up to the top of the stairs, and then pour in their small but important contribution of wine. And as Passover arrived, the elders set the date for the town to gather to break open the spigot and fill everyone’s carafes with wine. As they gathered and the elders called for the filling of the first carafe, something strange happened. Water came out of the barrel, not wine. They called for another carafe to be filled but the same thing happened again – more water. After a third, fourth, and fifth carafe was filled with water, it became clear what had happened.  

People had given the appearance that they were doing the right thing. They traipsed across those cold evenings and walked to the top of the stairs so that everyone watching would see them making their contribution. But instead of contributing wine, each person counted on the next person to pour in wine and so they simply poured in water. They expected the next person to do the right thing but no one did so and, as a result, all the families suffered and the community was not able to celebrate the holiday as tradition had called for it to be.

… My dad told this story to every associate at his company. He would talk to people about this tale and why each person’s contribution is so important. “There are no shortcuts,” he would say. “We need everyone doing the right thing.” And this leads me to the core of who my dad was and why this award is so meaningful to me and everyone who is part of it. He stood for what is right, especially when it requires hard work and sacrifice, because in the end, that’s what allows everyone to truly benefit.

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