University of Chicago Releases Controversial Sample Essay

The proud, the beautiful, the moderately explicit University of Chicago

The proud, the beautiful, the oddly explicit. The University of Chicago.

As reported by The New York Times, the dean of admissions at the University of Chicago was so smitten with an essay comparing the University to an elusive lover that he thought it would be a good idea to send it out to all of UChicago's prospective applicants. All of them. As you might imagine, this did a lot more harm than good as hundreds of already-stressed applicants found out that the essay was nothing like theirs, or at all similar to what they had planned, and immediately assumed they had done something wrong. Many began to wonder if they should toss all their hard work and start new essays altogether.

It's human nature to read something you've been told is successful and want to emulate it, but don't read this sample essay - though the applicant has been accepted - as a model of what to do. Instead, think about what the essay dares to say about its author and take that as inspiration to be free and forceful in your writing.

The college essay ought to be a personal, expressive piece of work, not a regurgitation of the five-paragraph model you've been taught in high school. Look at the sample essay Chicago has released and think of it not as a model but as an invitation to be bold in your writing - to commit to a style and execute it the best way you know how, rather than mimicking something or writing the way you think you're supposed to. This a prime example of how to stand out from what is an increasingly large pile of applications at the nation's top schools.

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