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  • James Nondorf

    Title: Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid

    Company: University of Chicago

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    Colleges I Attended
    Yale University, Valparaiso University

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  • Admissions Expertise

    • Do you need to have a prospective major, or is it okay to be undecided?


      Not knowing what you want to major in cannot hurt your application. In fact, at UChicago, we want our first-year students to arrive with a healthy intellectual curiosity, and to explore a wide variety of academic fields in our Core curriculum.

      Students usually declare a major towards the end of their second year or the beginning of their third. And, of course, many students change their major (sometimes more than once), and some students double major, add a minor, etc. The breadth, focus, and direction of your academic career are really in your hands.

      At UChicago, we believe in the value of a broad, rigorous liberal arts education, and we teach the fundamental skills: critical thinking, analytic reasoning, and persuasive writing. These are skills that will serve you well in any career. Certainly there are some majors that lend well to certain careers, but we’ve had philosophy majors go on to work in finance, English majors become doctors, and math majors find careers in the arts.

    • To find scholarships, where should I look, what's needed of me, and which ones seem craziest?


      At the University of Chicago, as with many schools, applicants need not submit any additional materials in order to be considered for merit scholarships. And many scholarship committees are looking for similar attributes in applicants—intelligence, creativity, ambition, academic and extracurricular accomplishments, etc.

      At the University of Chicago, we look in particular for students who exhibit a strong intellectual curiosity in all their endeavors, who have embraced the spirit of inquiry that we believe defines our institution. We might find something outstanding in an applicant’s essay; it may be an interesting project a student has undertaken—we don’t have any specific formula we adhere to when selecting merit scholars.

      And, of course, there are many local and demographic-specific scholarships available to supplement university aid. My best advice: never be shy about applying for the one-off scholarship. You never know which one you’ll get.

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