Flickr user Dennis Hill

Who ever said writing an essay had to be boring? Sure, you’ll get your fair share of standard questions like “Why do you want to attend this college” or “Who is someone you admire”, but some applications might ask you to write about more…interesting topics.

Here are 6 bizarre college essay questions and prompts, that were part of real applications:

Brandeis University

“If you could choose to be raised by robots, dinosaurs, or aliens, who would you pick? Why?”

Right out the gate this is not your typical essay prompt—at least, not in terms of college admittance. All the same, how you answer can reveal a lot about you as a person. Even odd questions can yield useful results, after all. (Not that I’m at all biased since I work for College Raptor and our mascot is a velociraptor, but I’d totally pick being raised by dinosaurs).

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“What do you hope to find over the rainbow?”

Drawing on the classic Wizard of Oz song, this Ivy school delivers an interesting prompt. What would be in that land that you’ve ‘heard of, once in a lullaby’? Remember, what Dorothy sings about and what she experiences are two different things. The saying does go: “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” How does that affect your answer?

University of Pennsylvania

“You have just finished your 300 page autobiography. Please submit page 217.”

Creative-types might rejoice, whereas other students may balk at this prompt. There are many interesting routes this one can take—do you start in the middle of a sentence? Where would page 217 even be located in your life so far? Has your life warranted 300 pages yet or would you speculate about your potential future and write about that? These sorts of prompts can get the creative juices flowing and get you to tackle an interesting problem.

University of Notre Dame

“You have 150 words. Take a risk.”

They say brevity is the soul of wit, and this prompt asks for plenty of wit. This is almost a tightrope of a question, because it asks for a risk, but what is too risky? What isn’t risky enough? Notre Dame presents you with a challenge and asks you to face it head on. This sort of prompt also requires originality, so please, don’t answer with a “No.” or “This is a risk.” We guarantee many people have already done that.

Texas Christian University

“Take a blank sheet of paper. Do with this page what you wish. Your only limitations are the boundaries of this page. You don’t have to submit anything, but we hope you will use your imagination.”

This isn’t so much an essay as a creative assignment. A blank sheet of paper can be equally inspirational and terrifying. Do you fold it into a paper crane? Do you write an essay or a poem on it? Do you draw a picture? Make a collage? Rip it into pieces? The options are endless.

University of Chicago

“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.”

Um…what? If this sort of question leaves you scratching your head, keep in mind that the University of Chicago essay prompts are well known for being student-generated. That’s right, the students themselves submit the essay questions. That being said, how would you write an essay inspired by super-huge mustard? The results are bound to be amusing.

Interested in any of these colleges? Use College Raptor’s free match tool to discover if they are a good fit for you!