Students studying for finals week in the Electrical and Computer Engineering building.

UIUC College Essay Example Prompts

Whether you decide to apply to UIUC through Common App or myIllini, you’ll have to conquer the dreaded essay portion of the application. Fear not! When writing your essay, you have several options to choose from, so you can select the topic you’re most comfortable with.

For your application, you only need to choose one prompt to complete (along with two major-specific responses). Your essay should be between 250 and 650 words. In this blog, we’ve provided an example response for one of our college essay prompts. The concept we wrote about may seem a little silly, but we hope this example gives you an idea of how to craft your own response. Here we go!

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

a chicken and an egg

The chicken, or the egg? The hours I’ve spent pondering this question are countless. People frequently debate the seemingly simple idea of which came first. To me, it is more than just a question, but an example of how human beings think.

The question of “Which came first?” captivates me because it is a question without an answer. It has been asked for centuries and no progress has been made, but it still continues to be brought up. I think this is because humans prefer clear-cut answers. Like in any kind of competition, ending with a tie between teams or individuals isn’t a satisfying conclusion. People would rather the competition continue for extra time than admit there’s no real winner, or in this case, no real answer. So even though it’s obvious there will be no agreement, the debate over chickens and eggs continues.

When people label something a “chicken-egg” situation, it means there is no way to establish the order of cause and effect, again leaving a feeling of uncertainty. But human nature is to seek an answer. The chicken-egg question shows humanity’s inability to accept unfinished business, and this fascinates me most. People want closure in all aspects of life, and big questions like this are no exception. I think the question “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” is so interesting because people will always try to answer it knowing they will never find a solution. It shows that humans desire understanding above all else.

When I want to learn more about this concept, I turn to my grandfather. He doesn’t have a degree in philosophy or psychology, yet he’s a reliable source on almost any subject given his extensive years spent at the University of Life. With so many experiences under his belt, he understands unanswerable questions much better than I do. “The only truth is uncertainty,” he tells me when I once again dive deep into the possibility of eggs without chickens or chickens without eggs. In his words, the most beautiful parts of life are the questions we can’t answer but spend out whole life trying to.

My own desire for answers keeps me thinking about this question for hours on end. I think there’s good points to grandpa’s perspective, but as an eighteen-year-old entering college, I don’t know if I can accept that the only answer is no answer just yet. Until I can, I’ll gather my own evidence and continue to spend my days wondering whether Aristotle was eating chicken and waffles or omelettes for breakfast.

Now that you’ve had a chance to mull over your opinion on Aristotle’s breakfast choices, think about what topic you might like to write about in your application. Remember, it’s not about trying to perfectly replicate this example or write what you think the admissions office wants to hear. The essay section of your application is your chance to let colleges get to know you on a more personal level, so show them who you really are! If you take your time and write about what’s important to you, you’ll be writing college essay prompts like a pro in no time.

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  • I must say UIUC as a college has the most intuitive website. I have seen no college that makes the process of writing supplemental essays so fun and joyful!