13 College Essay Prompts and Topics 2021

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Summer_Essay_WritingHere Are Some of the Most Unusual and Fun College Application Essay and Short Answer Prompts

The 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.

Quirky College Essay Prompts

Here are some of our favorite quirky college application essay prompts from the 2021-22 college admissions season:

Dartmouth College: The Hawaiian word mo’olelo is often translated as “story” but it can also refer to history, legend, genealogy, and tradition. Use one of these translations to introduce yourself.

Emory University: Which book, character, song, monologue, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) seems made for you? Why?

Princeton University: What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment? (For additional insight into Princeton essays and top tips on crafting an essay that stands out to admissions officers, check out our guide on how to write impactful Princeton supplemental essays.)

University of Chicago: What’s so easy about pie? —Inspired by Arjun Kalia, Class of 2025

Villanova University: What is the truest thing that you know?

Yale University: You are teaching a new Yale course. What is it called?

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

Wake Forest University:

Rice University: The Rice Box: In keeping with Rice’s long-standing tradition, please share an image of something that appeals to you.

University of Southern California: Which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate?

Pomona College: Marvel or DC? Pepsi or Coke? Instagram or TikTok? What’s your favorite “this or that” (you are not restricted to these three examples), and which side do you choose?

University of Richmond: Tell us about the most unusual talent you have, and how you have made it useful.

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

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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