Seniors: Get a head start on your college apps this summer!

12 College Essay Prompts and Topics 2023

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

High school student writing a "why this college" essay for college applicationsThe Common Application is officially open, and many college-bound high school students are hard at work on their college applications. In addition to the main Common App essay, many schools might also require supplements that include some thoughtful — and downright quirky — essay prompts and short answer questions.

These fun and funky essay prompts are meant to challenge students and make the college admissions process a little more enjoyable. After all, students love to write about what matters to them. However, because many of these prompts are so out-of-the-box, many students might struggle with how to address these quirky essay prompts. It’s important for students to get creative and seek feedback when they need it.

2023 Quirky College Essay Prompts

Here are some of our favorite quirky college application essay prompts from the 2023-24 college admissions season:

Chapman University: What song should we be listening to while reading your application?

Colgate University: My favorite food is…

Dartmouth College: Celebrate your nerdy side.

Emory University: Reflection is a central tenant of Emory University’s values. Craft a personal email providing advice to yourself in your first year of high school.

Occidental College: What is the first song you would play for your Oxy roommate on move-in day?

Pomona College: At Pomona, we celebrate and identify with the number 47. Share with us one of your quirky personal, family, or community traditions and why you hold on to it.

Princeton University: What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?

Stanford University: What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed?

University of Chicago: A jellyfish is not a fish. Cat burglars don’t burgle cats. Rhode Island is not an island. Write an essay about some other misnomer, and either come up with and defend a new name for it or explain why its inaccurate name should be kept.

University of Richmond: Tell us about a time you learned something unexpected. What did you learn, and what happened next?

University of Vermont: Established in Burlington, VT, Ben & Jerry’s is synonymous with both ice cream and social change. The “Save Our Swirled” flavor raises awareness of climate change, and “I Dough, I Dough” celebrates marriage equality. If you worked alongside Ben & Jerry, what charitable flavor would you develop and why?

Wake Forest University: Give us your Top Ten list.

Supplemental essay prompts and short answer questions are just as important as your personal statement, so take some time to carefully brainstorm, draft, and edit your responses. Don’t just rush through these because they seem easy! Be thoughtful and try to reveal something new about yourself.

Now that you know the quirky essay topics, here comes the next challenge – what to write. Head to our piece on how to answer college essay questions.


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College Essays
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