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College president's essay-writing advice

Jenna Johnson

The University of Chicago is known for having provocative, off-the-wall undergraduate admissions questions. This year there are five questions, including this one: "How did you get caught? (Or not caught, as the case may be.)"

zimmer.jpgLast week I had coffee with University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer and asked him the question I am sure lots of high school seniors would have asked: What advice do you have for students tackling one of these crazy essay questions?

"The key thing -- or one key thing -- is to actually find something that's real and honest about yourself and that you generally care about," Zimmer said. "It should flow naturally out of who you are."

Zimmer said the students should write essays that have a distinct personality and do not read like they are "canned." More important than the essay question or topic that the student chooses is how the student answers the question -- and shows the deep thinking that went into doing so. But, he admits: "That's not so easy to do."

And he for all of those students (and their parents) who are stressing out too much about the admissions process, Zimmer says: "If people can calm down a bit, that would be a good thing."

By Jenna Johnson  |  June 30, 2010; 11:54 AM ET
Categories:  Admissions  | Tags: Admissions, University of Chicago  
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