UofC Essay Creates Admissions Guilt

Dean shares essay to "lighten the mood"

Friday, Jan 1, 2010  |  Updated 9:45 AM CDT
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A little creativity from a U of C applicant has caused a firestorm.

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Millions of earnest young men and women have put the finishing touches on their essays for college applications due January 2.

But one has already gotten the attention of the dean of admissions at the University of Chicago, who shared the provocative sample with high school seniors in hopes it "inspires your creative juices in completing your applications.”

"Dear University of Chicago," begins the essay before taking a dramatic turn. “Tell me, was I just one in a line of many? Was I just another supple ‘applicant’ to you...your cup overfloweth with academic genius, pour a little on me. “

The essay did inspire. Over the last two weeks, dozens of would-be U of C students have posted their reactions to Dean James Nondorf's decision to share the essay on an applicant insider web site, College Confidential.

Many were impressed with the essay by "Rohan," who will be attending the University of Chicago in the fall of 2010. Others, second-guessing their own work, were not.

“My Why Chicago is in exactly the same format," an applicant posted.

The U of C admissions office posted a response this week, offering an apology to students andadmitting the Dean's plan "might have backfired a bit."

“Our general message in sharing it with prospective students was that they shouldn't stress out about essay writing,” Dean Nondorf wrote.

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