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College essay options get creative

Jan. 2, 2013 at 2:10 PM

CHICAGO, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Colleges including the University of Chicago are delving into the realm of the quirky with application essay options such as: "So where is Waldo, really?"

Garrett Brinker, an admissions official at the University of Chicago, said such unusual questions allow officials to get a better idea of a prospective student's personality than a traditional essay listing their accomplishments and hardships, Tribune Newspapers reported Wednesday.

"It's a way to see students who can think differently and go beyond their academic, intellectual and extracurricular comfort zones," Brinker said.

He said such essays also break up the monotony of the application process" for both students and university officials.

Other schools opting for unusual essay questions include:

-- the California Institute of Technology, which asks students to "Please describe an unusual way in which you have fun";

-- Wake Forest University, which has applicants "Think of things that fascinated you when you were 10 years old -- what has endured?"; and

-- Brandeis University, which offers the option of "A package arrives at your door. After seeing the contents you know it's going to be the best day of your life. What's inside and how do you spend your day?"

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