Answering UChicago Prompts


Driena Muca

As February begins, US colleges are wrapping up their application process and the answers are starting to roll in for seniors worldwide. To celebrate the end of this anxiety-ridden process, I have decided to answer some of the best prompts from UChicago, a prestigious US university. That’s right baby, Rahil gave me a feature article, so you know this is going to be good. 

Now, I’m not being paid by UChicago or the CommonApp to answer these questions, but if, perhaps, an admissions officer reads these responses, my Instagram DMs are always open for admission negotiation ;). But seriously, I didn’t even apply to UChicago, so why not. Below are some questions that were carefully hand-picked by my manager, along with my intellectual, genius thoughts vaguely captured by words.

Have you ever walked through the aisles of a warehouse store like Costco or Sam’s Club and wondered who would buy a jar of mustard a foot and a half tall? We’ve bought it, but it didn’t stop us from wondering about other things, like absurd eating contests, impulse buys, excess, unimagined uses for mustard, storage, preservatives, notions of bigness…and dozens of other ideas both silly and serious. Write an essay somehow inspired by super-huge mustard.

For a second, let’s ignore the question of who would buy huge jars of mustard because I’M the one who buys those huge containers of mustard at BJ’s, another popular warehouse store. A little story-time - my aunt owns a diner in Boston, so in the summertime, my cousin and I would always go to BJ’s or Costco to shop for her business, hence why we bought such absurdly large amounts of food. I’m talking about ten gallons of Sunny D on a good day. 


When we first start out picking up the food from these stores, we just throw the products in the cart, and voila, it fits magically. You know we got your twenty pounds of chicken and your gigantic jar of Nutella (that should be illegal because of how massive that thing is) among other things. But without a care in the world, we just put it in the cart until it’s time for us to go to the checkout center. Without missing a beat, those dirty stares from the store clerk appear as she views the 70 things I brought for her to bag. So this poor lady has to check out my things while putting them in bags and then every single time this sinking feeling comes lurking in my stomach as I look at the copious amount of bags that are piling up. It’s only when I start slowly looking back at my cousin that I think HOW WILL IT FIT BACK IN THE CART AFTER WE’RE DONE CHECKING OUT?? AM I LOSING MY MIND?? 

The whole problem is that I’m too lazy to get two carts. It’s either one cart or death. I can’t bring myself to go on the walk of shame to get a second cart—it’s just too much. Therefore what always ends up happening is a crazy, real-life game of Tetris where I’m frantically moving the boxes and trying to make organized squares, attempting to utilize the little spatial awareness capacity I have.


Alas, it always comes down to one miscellaneous object like that cursed big jar of mustard... and that girl fits absolutely nowhere. You don’t wanna put her on top of the eggs because it will crush the eggs, but if you put it in the bottom of the cart that girl just ROLLS right out of there. And here I am having a mental breakdown in aisle 7 of a BJ’s about how I’m going to fit all this mustard back in the cart. Coupons are flying everywhere, there are three people behind us, there’s a baby screaming somewhere—everyone is freaking out. It’s not about who buys the mustard, no, there’s a greater question God imposes to humble us in our greatest times of need. It’s how does it all fit back in the cart? Because I’ve been alive for almost 18 years and never once in my life have I ever made everything fit back in the cart.

I think the answer lies in the eye of the beholder. Whoever can fit all their products from Costco or wherever back in the cart, are clearly God’s favorite.

A hot dog might be a sandwich, but is a ______ a ______?

I first want to start off by highlighting my established background which authorizes me to answer this question. At the beginning of APUSH with Mr. Collins in 10th grade, I thought I was going to be learning about US History like the revolutionary war, cold war, and other things along those lines. But NO, Mr. Collins made us sit down and answer a document-based question to debate whether a hot dog was a sandwich or not. He actually made us analyze like seven sources to aid our argument if a hot dog was a sandwich. I wish I was kidding about this. I think the purpose was to teach us about writing essays or something, who knows, but the only things that stuck with me were the losers around me who said a hot dog was a sandwich. 

So now that we’ve established my expertise I now pose my question to the world: Is milk a sauce? I know what your first reaction may be “NO! Of course, it's not.” Fortunately for you, I’m going to tell you why you’re wrong. The definition of a “sauce” (given by trustworthy Google) is “a thick hot or cold liquid that you eat on or with food”. Let’s dissect this. Milk can be thick, it can be hot OR cold, and you eat it on or with food—CEREAL! Do you not have milk with cereal? Do you not dip your oreo cookies in milk? Would that not constitute it as a sauce then? You know, I’ve seen an argument that “no it has to be thick”, but like, ketchup isn't that thick either, neither is hot sauce yet we still consider it a sauce. I’ve seen kids drink the hot sauce out of the bottle at the Tigers Den so don’t come at me about what a “thick” liquid is or isn’t. I’ve seen things you haven’t. They straight inhaled that hot sauce like it was water—it was traumatizing. Therefore “thick” is relative and not a one size fits all definition. It’s a spectrum, and milk is well within the boundaries of what we’re discussing here. 

The conditional answer then is that milk can be a sauce only used in conjunction with other food (ex: cereal). Milk is a sauce, no further debate needed. If you feel offended by this definition, good.

"Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?" - Eleanor Roosevelt. Misattribute a famous quote and explore the implications of doing so.

“We’ll always have Paris” - Kanye West 


After lying to Beyonce about a weekend getaway, Jay-Z stood outside the Le Meurice hotel waiting anxiously for Kanye to come downstairs. With his sunglasses, oversized t-shirt, and baseball cap on, Jay-Z looked like a regular dude and was unrecognizable to paparazzi. Regardless, he was still sweating bullets as he opened his phone to the recording. It wasn’t just ANY recording, but the recording. Right as he was contemplating deleting it, Kanye came bustling out the front doors and greeted Jay-Z. 


“Jay, you got the tape?” 


“You already know I do but I think we should—” 


“Aight Jay I’mma let you finish but I think we recorded the best tape of all time. OF ALL TIME.”


“If Beyonce finds out about what we did—it’d break the internet man” 


“I know, which is why I can’t do this anymore. I gotta flight to catch in an hour” 


“What, Kanye no, what about all the moments we spent together?” 


Kanye looked Jay-Z in his eyes, “We’ll always have Paris” he said before dapping him up, hopping in a limo, and then drifting off. 


Heartbroken, Jay-Z looked down at his phone, and then uploaded the tape on September 13, 2011. 

Fast forward two years later, It proved to be worth it, as in 2013, “****** In Paris” became a two-time grammy-winning song for best rap performance and best rap song. Kanye and Jay-Z may have had their differences, but the one thing they would always share together was their magical time spent in Paris.

Little pigs, French hens, a family of bears. Blind mice, musketeers, the Fates. Parts of an atom, laws of thought, a guideline for composition. Omne trium perfectum? Create your own group of threes, and describe why and how they fit together.

This is a perfect opportunity for someone to be original and creative and luckily that person will not be me. I’m just going to talk about the three little German pigs from Shrek because they absolutely terrorize my waking thoughts. I’ve been trying to find out what their names are and so far I’ve come across three Shrek wifi fandoms. But all of them say different names. Like this trio is so iconic yet dangerous, and they have multiple aliases in order to uphold their anonymity, how cool is that? I don't know what the point of that would be when they have the most painstakingly identifiable German accents but then again does that really matter (also are they German because of German sausages and pork? But they’re pigs, so if that’s why then that’s really messed up). Can you imagine getting bonked in the head and three pigs drag you into a dark alley and when you wake up you just hear “Are you ready to die ja?” and then you get blown out with a glock like wow what a way to go. But what if they’re not actually German at all and it's a front they keep up to be seen as dismissable and crazy on-screen when in reality they’re really all actually just architects that work a regular 9-5 day job. It really makes you think huh. 

Regardless, I’ve never seen such a chaotically balanced trio, and the fact they’re all German just really sends me over the edge. I mean we as a society love to look up to the power of three. The US government has three branches. We have three meals a day. And what about the saying “3rd times a charm”? Coincidence? I think not. Now let me direct you to what also abides by the power of three. Triangles. But not just any triangle. THE ILLUMINATI. Now think about it: the three little pigs have no consistent ID. They can somehow build houses? They also escaped the big bad wolf, who is not German in Shrek but somehow the pigs ARE German (so I don't know if this was the wolf from the Three Little Pigs or actually Little Red Riding Hood but let's just assume this is a hole in the Shrek plotline). There can be only one explanation. The three little German pigs from Shrek work for the Illuminati. Each pig represents the cornerstone of the foundation of the Illuminati that is single-handedly powering the Shrek universe. Not convinced yet? Yeah, me neither but I ran out of ideas for these essays so this is the most you’re gonna get.

“A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.” –Oscar Wilde. Othello and Iago. Dorothy and the Wicked Witch. Autobots and Decepticons. History and art are full of heroes and their enemies. Tell us about the relationship between you and your arch-nemesis (either real or imagined). 

Shakespeare once said in Henry VI Part 3, act 2, scene 2, 

The smallest worm will turn being trodden on,
And doves will peck in safeguard of their brood”. 

Unfortunately in this world of doves, I am the smallest worm. This is my anime villain origin story: also known as The Pigeon Chronicles. 

As my therapist likes to say, let's confront the root of the trauma. It all started when I was seven years old waiting in line at an amusement park back in the States. I was young and full of life, not knowing what would soon be taken away from me. I sat down as I was tired from the lack of movement from the line, and just like that my life flashed before my eyes. A bagel fell from the sky and landed on my head. I immediately started screaming, looking up at the sky and shaking my fist at God, before seeing a seagull fly away, MOCKING me after its stunt. Of course, it was a copy-paste of that one scene from Chicken Little like I was screaming “THE SKY IS FALLING” and everyone around me stared at me like I was a straight weirdo but anyways that’s not the point. This instance documented my first battle with my arch-nemesis: wild birds. 

You know I’m more or less a fan of birds, I used to own two pet birds when I was very young and I think I used to enjoy them. So you see my problem isn’t just normal birds, it’s specifically WILD birds. They’re scary, they are loud, and they have no manners or regard for human life. How pathetic. However, recently, my arch-nemesis struck again. I was sitting outside on my balcony listening to music and enjoying life. I thought I was in my safe space while enjoying the sunset, calm and serene (you can see where this is going). It wasn’t until a pigeon LANDED ON MY HEAD that I drew the line and immediately dove for cover. Get this though, that didn't happen once, but TWICE on my same balcony. Each time it happened I felt like I lost ten years of my life. My heart didn’t just skip one beat but rather five. It's ridiculous and insane and the day I snap because of this, those birds will not be ready. 

Now I do not condone animal violence, but I might let something slide if it were against those birds.

The mantis shrimp can perceive both polarized light and multispectral images; they have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom. Human eyes have color receptors for three colors (red, green, and blue); the mantis shrimp has receptors for sixteen types of color, enabling them to see a spectrum far beyond the capacity of the human brain. Seriously, how cool is the mantis shrimp: What might they be able to see that we cannot? What are we missing?

The presence of God.

Joan of Arkansas. Queen Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Babe Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Mash up a historical figure with a new time period, environment, location, or occupation, and tell us their story.

Cardi B Benson. The combination of acclaimed female rapper Cardi B, and founding father of honey regulations, Barry B. Benson from the Bee Movie. During the day, Cardi B Benson lives her respectable life as a receptionist for some random company. But during the night, Cardi B Benson becomes a RnBee and rap artist. She hits all your beloved clubs and performs her smashing records “Honey”, and “SAH”. Just in case you’re not familiar, here are the choruses of each song: 


All I really wanna see is the (honey)

I don't really need the bee, I need the (honey)

All a bad bee need is the (honey)



Yeah, you collecting this sweet as honey

Bring a bucket and a mop for this sweet as honey

Give me everything you got for this sweet as honey 


Cardi B Benson donates all her funds to a charity that advocates for positive change in the environment in order to save the bees :^). Just kidding Cardi B Benson blows her racks in clubs.

I’m not going to answer this question but what the heck do they mean off the edge of the Earth??? Hello?? Did I just stumble upon a flat earther’s tweet? What is this? What does this mean? I’m so confused. Off the edge of the earth?? Hello? What does UChicago know that we don't? 

You’re on a voyage in the thirteenth century, sailing across the tempestuous seas. What if, suddenly, you fell off the edge of the Earth?