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?"
Washington state top names: Sophia, Mason
OLYMPIA, Wash., Jan. 2 (UPI) -- The Washington state Department of Health said the most popular baby names for 2011, the most recent year with available data, were Sophia and Mason.
The department said there were 453 baby girls born in the state with the name Sophia in 2011 and 446 baby boys with the name Mason, The Yakima (Wash.) Herald reported Wednesday.
The rest of the top 10 baby names in Washington for 2011 were Olivia, Emma, Isabella, Emily, Ava, Abigail, Madison, Chloe and Elizabeth.
The boys' list was rounded out by Liam, Alexander, Ethan, Jacob, Daniel, Noah, William, Logan and Benjamin.
Twin sisters give birth on same day
AKRON, Ohio, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- A set of twin sisters in Ohio said they gave birth about 2 hours apart at the same hospital.
Aimee and Ashlee Nelson, both 19, both gave birth to sons Monday at Summa Akron City Hospital, with Aimee and father Matthew Bratten, 20, having the first child, Donavyn Scott Bratten, at 12:11 p.m., The Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal reported Wednesday.
Ashlee and Cody Dilts, 22, followed at 2:03 p.m. with son Aiden Lee Alan Dilts.
Dr. Laura Schnegg delivered both infants.
Marcella Farson, the twins' mother, said the women had due dates one week apart and had not planned to deliver the same day.
Farson said she had her own responsibilities with two pregnant daughters.
"Within the past two months, me being the mother, I would get a whiny phone call in the middle of the night on what's going on and I would hang the phone up and literally 5 minutes later I would have the other one crying," she said.
Seal discovered in landlocked British lake
ST. IVES, England, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Experts said a seal discovered 50 miles from the British coast likely made its way through flood waters to a landlocked lake.
Graham Elliott, area manager for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which also works to safeguard other forms of wildlife, said the seal was spotted at the Fen Drayton Lakes reserve, near St. Ives, England, about 50 miles from the coast, The Scotsman reported Wednesday.
"It would be the first time this has happened, to my knowledge, that one has made its way into the lake. The floods normally come from ground water rather than the river, and so it must have worked its way up in a ditch or something like that," Elliott said. "It would be extremely unusual and it would become an attraction to visitors"
Footage of the seal has appeared on YouTube.