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Tense, anxious, and awkward.
Tense, anxious, and awkward.
Forget all your expectations.
The rigour of coursework and the number of big name professors.
The undergraduate body is small-ish (4500 students or so) but it's impossible to get to know everybody or do everything. As ...
The undergraduate body is small-ish (4500 students or so) but it's impossible to get to know everybody or do everything. As a third-year, I continue to meet lots of new people who are in my year. I feel like if I went to a school with a fourth the number of undergraduates, I wouldn't get that experience. I divide my time between Hyde Park and the rest of the city. Sometimes I'll go downtown 2-3 times a week, sometimes not for a month. People like to complain about Hyde Park (five places to buy books, zero places to buy pants), but I like it very much just the way it is... though yes, being able to buy pants here would be nice. If you come here, don't expect people to be patting your back about how awesome/smart you are. Yes, this school is prestigious, but only in certain circles (i.e. if people care about the name on the degree, like law schools, consulting firms, academia, they'll know the school and know how awesome it is) but I'm telling you right now that Joe the Plumber thinks we're the same as UIC or Chicago State. To me, that's also a blessing of sorts-- I didn't want to go to a school where students were overly self-satisfied with the name on their sweatshirt.
There are no real words I can put to the student body that describes them as a whole. The school is a lot more geographically and socioeconomically diverse than I thought it would be, similarly racially diverse as I thought it would be, and a lot less politically diverse than I thought it would be. (As in, the vast majority of students are liberal, and it seems like the only place where non-traditional liberal viewpoints pop up is the Maroon). I do think this is a school where anybody can feel comfortable in their own skin. You will see about as many students who look like J. Crew ads as students who are wearing their ratty t-shirts inside out. You will see about as many students at Bar Night on Wednesdays as you will pulling all-nighters in Crerar. The one thing I haven't seen is a flashy culture here-- no students driving their BMW's around or downing expensive champagne to prove how awesome they are. Or if they are students who do that, they go over to the North Side, where people might dig that sort of thing. Another thing I'll point out is that Chicago students are incredibly active in extracurriculars, research, etc. It seems like everybody I know is doing crazy amazing things at the same time that they're taking four courses and keeping up with them.
I was waiting for a hamburger at the grill yesterday and I overheard what I think is the quintessential Chicago conversation: Guy 1: Hey, what's up? Guy 2: Not much. I didn't go to bed until 4 am last night because I was working on an honors o-chem problem set. Guy 1: Yeah, I didn't get to bed until 6 am. Guy 2: What were you doing? Guy 1: Oh, Johnny and Sally and I were watching Family Guy and talking about cultural relativism. Chicago tends to run hot and cold with students. Some students absolutely know they don't want to be here, and some students are extremely attracted to it. Very few people have no opinion on the school. If you think this school is right for you, there's no better place on earth for you. That's not saying this school is perfect, but it's going to come pretty close.
See and ye shall find. You will find a segment of students who do little else but work, but my impression is that a) that workload is self-imposed (i.e. nobody's forcing you to take honors analysis!) and that b) sometimes work can act as a safety blanket for people who are a little afraid to socialize. I feel like on any given night, I can find people hanging out, watching TV, and playing midnight soccer, and I can also go to the Reg and find people working very hard. Which one is the "right" U of C?
We are delightfully hardcore here. Be prepared to be surrounded in class by a lot of students who did the readings more carefully than you. While it can be intimidating at times to be surrounded by students who are so darn smart, it's also refreshing-- I mean, when else in life will I have the opportunity to be in this kind of environment? Part of the reason I wanted to come to a school like Chicago was to be surrounded by a group of students who really cared about what they were learning, not students who found the path of least resistance to the highest grade. This is definitely a "learn for the sake of learning" environment. There are a lot of legendary profs here, both on the research side and on the teaching side. I've been very happy with the quality of education I've gotten here-- no doubt I've been pampered throughout high school, so I came in with expectations that I think are unrealistic of most universities, but Chicago really delivers. Professors and the grad students I've had have been more than happy to slip into fuzzy roles as well-- as an English major, I've gotten plenty of advice on how to think about writing papers and how to construct good arguments. Most classes are taught by profs, and at least in English, you can avoid taking classes with grad students entirely. However, I have found my grad students just as cool as my profs.
Again, the social activities are diverse as the students. There are frat parties every weekend, and while they get "lame," they can still be fun. There are also movies, concerts downtown, dinner downtown, on-campus events. Apartment parties. The one thing about the party scene is that students don't really put a lot of energy into it. This is a good thing rather than a bad thing-- students don't feel pressured to binge drink or rush certain frats and women don't feel pressured to hook up. This also means that frat parties can feel like bar mitzvahs with beer. That's why I think apartment parties tend to be more fun-- it's with people who know each other slightly better hanging out together and dancing rather than a sketchy and anonymous basement.
That we're all weird or "quirky," that we study all the time, that we don't go out, that we're not in touch with the real world.
I like to talk about the unparalleled academic environment, the way the classes allow you to focus on the academics instead o...
I like to talk about the unparalleled academic environment, the way the classes allow you to focus on the academics instead of getting caught up in the bureaucratic or competitive nonsense that my friends complain about, and the fact that I have never regretted my decision to go there.
My school does really well at teaching professional students, but it does less well at maintaining an alumni network and preparing the students for the real professional world. Thus, people that don't want to go to grad school are not discouraged, per se, but they are certainly regarded by their friends as "selling out," and despite the career preparation office, they find themselves generally alone in looking at post-graduation plans.
Don't take advice from anyone who tries to tell you what is "best" for you. Decide for yourself what is most important to you: do you want to learn a lot? do you want to make lifelong friendships? do you want to become the best director, architect, or engineer ever? or do you want to just relax, enjoy your youth, and find your path? Schools will try to tell you that they will provide you with opportunities to do all of these things, but the fact is, some schools will definitely do better than others at the things that you care about. After all, every school does have a slightly different environment. Sometimes thoroughly researching the school can tell you something about its environment, but the fact is there is no better way to get a sense of the vibe than visiting a school yourself. So, first of all, decide what you want, and then go look for it. Finally, don't fret! More often than not, people don't end up where they expect for college. At the end of the day, college is what you make of it. Not the school that you went to.
I am often frustrated by Chicago's hands-off, abstract approach - "that's all well and good in practice, but how does it work...
I am often frustrated by Chicago's hands-off, abstract approach - "that's all well and good in practice, but how does it work in theory?" is a running joke and the defining attitude here, and as a straightforward, earthbound person, I'm sometimes annoyed by my professors' and classmates' refusal to deal with things in any concrete, reasonable way.
I wish I'd known more about my priorities; I wish I'd taken a gap year to figure things out before I got here.
A poll for college applicants: How many times have you said this? a."My grades/SAT score/extracurriculars are no good; I'll never get accepted." b."I MUST get into the University of X, or the world will surely end. " c."Hallelujah, I'm accepted, my problems are over." The mindset is easy to slip into. With so many colleges, how to decide? You're eighteen and you're being thrown at the rest of your life headfirst. No wonder students fixate on test scores and ratings. The college application process really doesn?t make any sense until you're at college, by which point it's too late. But the truth is that, ultimately, your education is subjective . Getting into a top university won't solve your problems. High scores aren't the key to the rest of your life. Don't get so wrapped up that you lose track of the essential thing: at graduation, when you're stepping out with that degree, the name of the school matters less than the personal resources you put into it. Wherever you end up, remember to invest in yourself, your friendships, your experience - and you'll turn out OK.
Many of them are very quirky, in a way that can only be descrided as a 'U of C' thing, generally liberal, upper middle class ...
Many of them are very quirky, in a way that can only be descrided as a 'U of C' thing, generally liberal, upper middle class backgrounds and also a bit elitist.
This is school very concerned with the theory behind everything, quality of their education and are a bit elitist and underconnected to the real world.
My only advise would be to find a school that you really enjoy, especially for undergrad. If you enjoy yourself, you'll do better than if you have suffur through the classes and social evirons of the school you picked.
Not very talkative, but brilliant. Somewhat clique-y, but nice enough.
Not very talkative, but brilliant. Somewhat clique-y, but nice enough.
To focus on making friends too. I spent too much time worrying about school that my social life suffered.
I would advise the students not to put too much pressure on the school itself; a lot of effort for self-fulfillment and satisfaction have to come from the individual himself. Parents should also trust that their kids have a certain style or niche they are looking for, so if they want a certain type of school versus your preferred type (say, large, social, modern architecture) be sure that they will be fine, and will find their own group to feel comfortable in. Schools are so different, so you need to visit and see if you like the atmosphere. Sit in the quads, listen to students. Imagine yourself studying there. You life will be completely consumed by your college experience for at least four years, so make sure you really "fit" !
There are too many people who think they know everything and who constantly are trying to show it to everybody else, which is...
There are too many people who think they know everything and who constantly are trying to show it to everybody else, which is very irritating. There are way too many pretentious and cut-throat competitive people, and most classes are curved, so it hurts the "middle-class" people who do well but have no desire to overachieve.
A person who likes their social life way more than academic one. In this school, most of the people are weird in one way or another, and it is hard to find people you'd click with. Most of them are studying all the time, so even if you like them, its hard to hang out. A lot of activities are lame and not appealing to many students
Know thyself. Realize your priorities, but don't think of just academics or any other single aspect, but evaluate all of them. While applying, it might seem that one is most important, but once you start studying at the university, other aspects of your choice will come up and become much more important than before. For example, quality of dorms or dorm visitor policy might not matter to you during the application process, but once attending the school, it might have a profound effect on your overall happiness and studying abilities, which will affect academic achievements on the same level as actual courses would. So do try to think about menial details and imagine what life would be like once in college. Ask current students (and MANY current students to get a decent sample size) about thier frustrations and their likings, but evaluate and weight the answers based on how much each respondent is similar to you. For instance, don't count much on party-goer's view of academics if you are a reclusive studious type and vice versa. Visit the campus and get opinion from people not affiliated with admissions office.
There is no one way to ensure that a student makes the most out of his or her college experience. You can go on as many camp...
There is no one way to ensure that a student makes the most out of his or her college experience. You can go on as many campus tours as you like, complete as many prospective student visits, but you'll never be able to have a full grasp of the school until you actually enroll. Additionally, your experience at each school is what you make of it...you can go to a nerd school and party it up if you look for it, and you can likewise go to a state school and take challenging courses that forever change the way you think. The most important thing to remember is to keep your eyes and mind open during the process. Don't be too hasty to pick a major or a career path as soon as you finish high school. Take time to explore the different options your school provides You may find doors you never knew existed, or realize that you don't want to go down paths that you once thought you would. You are young, and the world is yours for the taking. Take advantage of it.
People can isolate themselves due to school work. I do think it's true that we don't have as great a social life as those at similarly ranked institutions, although that seems to be rapidly changing.
People who are genuinely passionate about learning and broadening their horizons.
Pretentious yet interesting.
Pretentious yet interesting.
Don't stress it so much.
The disturbingly large douchebag population.
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