Chicago, IL
University of Chicago


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Anna Lee
What are the most popular student activities/groups?

The University of Chicago has over 500 registered student organizations, over 400 of which are for undergraduates, so there i...

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

The University of Chicago has over 500 registered student organizations, over 400 of which are for undergraduates, so there isn't really a group of "most popular" groups. There is literally a club or organization for everyone. A list of all of them can be found at https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/studentlife/activities/clubs.shtml As for activities, most students study/procrastinate more than they do anything else. Indeed, students have to do so much work to succeed at this school. However, we also know how to have fun. Here are some of the things students do: --Fraternity parties on Friday and Saturday nights --Concerts and shows by Off-Off Campus (a well-known improv group) and other student organizations --Free food all over campus all the time --Summer Breeze, a huge concert and carnival held in Spring Quarter (the headliner this year is Ludacris) --Scav, an enormous scavenger hunt that takes place Spring Quarter --Go downtown for concerts, shows, shopping, lots of stuff. The Resident Masters of all the dorms also sponsor awesome trips to Cubs games, concerts (Yo-Yo Ma and Lang Lang, for example), and other fun things. --Hyde Park Jazz Festival in Fall Quarter --Skating on the outdoor Midway ice rink in the winter --Intramural Sports (think ultimate frisbee and inner-tube water polo) School can be tough, but there are always fun and interesting things to do here.

Why did you decide to go to this school?

After all the acceptance and rejection letters arrived, I was left with two schools to choose from. The first school had awarded me an outstanding scholarship, while the second, the University of Chicago, was simply excellent. After visiting the first school, I realized that it was simply a larger version of my high school: same types of people, same easy and uninteresting classes, same low standards of academic excellence, same overemphasis on sports and partying. The benefits of the scholarship would not have outweighed the misery that being at that school would have caused. Deciding where to go to school is about deciding where you will be most fulfilled. Every school will have some trait that you don't like, but if what you like about the school outweighs what you don't like to such a degree that you think you could be happy and successful, then that is the school you should choose. The price tag, reputation, prestige of a school are worthless if you aren't able to thrive there.

Tell us about the sports scene on campus.

With relation to sports, there are three groups of people on campus, with each successive group being larger than the preceding group. First, there are the student athletes who train and compete in official NCAA athletic competitions. (Participants in a few of the more intense sport clubs such as crew and water polo may also belong to this category.) These students tend to live in the Max Pavlesky dorm (because it is the closest to the two athletic centers), they tend to all be friends (or at least know each other), and they are the students who are most likely to attend sporting events at the university. The second group includes students who participate in sport clubs or intramural sports and/or who exercise on a regular basis. This second group is the largest and consists of widest variety of students. Finally, the third group is composed to those students who do not participate in intramural sports and who exercise irregularly or not at all. In the past few years, the prominence of Greek life on campus has increased while the overall level of quirkiness of the student body has decreases. A side effect of these developments has been that the sports scene on campus has become slightly more prominent as well, and this trend is likely to continue in the same direction. For more information about athletics at the University of Chicago, visit http://athletics.uchicago.edu/index.html.

What do students complain about most?

Honestly, what students complain about most is the weather. The academics are difficult, sometimes insanely so, but we get used to that. The weather, on the other hand, is completely out of our control, and it can get extremely cold and extremely windy here.

What are the academics like at your school?

The academics at the University of Chicago are tough but excellent. On one hand, there are the classes like calculus and chemistry which can seem impossible. Calculus is difficult because the university requires that all first-year students learn how to do proofs (i.e. proofs by induction, delta-epsilon proofs, etc.--not the easy things you do in geometry) and all first-year calculus courses are taught by graduate students who don't always speak English very well. Chemistry is difficult because of the subject material and the time commitment. For example, labs last about three and a half hours each week, and students go into exams worrying that the fourteen hours they spent studying weren't enough. Calculus, chemistry, economics, and some other classes are graded on a curve, which is good in the sense that getting a 40% on a midterm might earn you a B+, but it also means that the number of A's and B's awarded is limited. On the other hand, there are classes that are as awesome as calculus can be awful. This year I took a social science sequence called Self, Culture, and Society. We read books like Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Emile Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, and Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. The books and the class discussion about them were fascinating. Going to Self became one of the best parts of my week. Students here study a ton. We still have fun, but getting away with not studying for an exam or not doing extra problems to understand the material just does not happen. Most weeks students go out to frat parties or other events on Friday nights, but then they stay in on Saturday nights to get work done. The University of Chicago fosters an excellent learning environment, so students here are not very competitive. Although in some classes like chemistry and economics students are competing with their classmates for the higher grades, mostly the attitude is that "we're all in this together," where "this" is surviving exams, studying for crazy amounts of time, and making it through this school. Also, with so many student organizations (over 500) and other things to be involved in, everyone can excel in their own way, so neither the academic or extracurricular environments are highly competitive. Professors are very accessible, and they are always available to help you and answer your questions. Many classes, such as calculus and chemistry, also include discussion sessions and problem sessions led by T.A.s that are designed to help students better understand the course material. Granted, these sessions are not always useful, but in the case that they aren't, there are college tutors and other resources for students. The university puts forth equally as much effort and resources toward creating a thriving learning community as it does toward preparing its students for post-graducaiton. The Career Advising and Planning Services (CAPS) is absolutely outstanding. CAPS advisors are available to help students write excellent resumes and cover letters and work on interview skills. Also, the Chicago Careers In... (CCI) programs are truly incredible. They are an excellent way to explore careers, make connections, and get internships and jobs. The CCI programs consistently hold events designed to give students the opportunity to talk to people in different fields, hear experts speak, and network. For example, over spring break, I went to Washington, D.C., with Chicago Careers in Public and Social Service (CCIPSS). We met with alumni at the White House, State Department, Peace Corps, USAID, the Brookings Institute, and Senator Durbin’s office. We had lunch with a Senior Advisor to the President and dinner with a Foreign Affairs Officer with the State Department who spent six months in Iraq working directly for General Patreus. The university completely understands the importance of career exploration and networking in order to get internships and jobs. CAPS also runs Chicago Career Connection (CCC), an online resource for students. Through CCC, students can schedule appointments with CAPS advisors and research and apply for thousands of jobs (there are at least 60,000 posted on CCC). The only downside to CAPS is that it takes about two weeks to get an appointment.

Anna
What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

Of course, most of us have heard the infamous saying, "University of Chicago - the place where fun comes to die." As true as ...

What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

Of course, most of us have heard the infamous saying, "University of Chicago - the place where fun comes to die." As true as that may have been in the past, currently the university has seen a dramatic shift in terms of the student population and sociability. Within the last decade, dozens of new buildings have been erected in UChicago's gorgeous Hyde Park campus, including: Gerald Ratner Athletic Center, Max Palevsky dormitory, South Campus dormitory and dining hall, the Gordon Center for Integrative Research, the Mansueto Library (endearingly called the "reg egg" after the Regenstein Library to which it is connected), and finally the brand new Logan Arts Center. Collectively, these additions have made UChicago a more appealing option for many prospective students and brought more viable resources to the campus. But to answer the original question at hand, at UChicago it is very difficult to pinpoint one stereotype. The university presents an international, eclectic mix of students; 10% are from Chicago while the remaining 90% are from all corners of the world, representing all 50 states and over 70 countries. Because of this cosmopolitan "melting pot," students frequently break through common stereotypes and work together on problem sets, play on intramural sports teams, and yes, go out together too. While it is only natural that students eventually form their own groups and such, the university does not reinforce the typical stereotypes of the jock, frat kid, or geek, but instead allows for ample opportunity to meet students from all walks of life. To some, it can be even seen as the place where "fun comes to thrive."

Keira
What is your overall opinion of this school?

The best thing has to be the classes and class sizes--the personal attention and diversity of offerings is unparalleled. One ...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

The best thing has to be the classes and class sizes--the personal attention and diversity of offerings is unparalleled. One thing I might change is to make the "core" courses take a little less time. It's great to get such a well rounded experience but for kids who really have a passion for a specific major early on it's difficult. Our size is perfect--we're medium, campus is walkable, you often run into people you know. People are always impressed when I tell them I go here. Most of my time on campus is spent on the quad in summer, in the library in winter. The most frequent complaint is probably the lack of grade inflation tied with the weather (Chicago winters can be killer)--but kids generally bond commiserating over both.

Describe the students at your school.

We are international, quirky, very welcoming, all religions, races, nationalities, all types. We are a complete amalgamation of the world and we accept everyone.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

They are all important--everyone will have an argument as to why!

What are the academics like at your school?

Classes are small and personal for the most part--especially as you get more advanced in your major. My favorite class has to be a Human Rights Seminar aptly titled What is a Human? We read such diverse materials and the class was small--we had really rousing discussions and the professor let us choose our final paper topics--mine ended up motivating my BA thesis. My least favorite has to be anything in the math requirement. I just feel like our basic level math professors are generally not that easy to follow, but then again I'm not all that great at math! Class participation is very common--you will always be encouraged to speak up--but professors realize not all students are outgoing and they are often understanding. My major is so cool (Comparative Human Development) because it's interdisciplinary. I can take classes in all the subjects I'm interested in--anthro, philo, socio, human rights, law--and generally I can make them count toward my major. It's given me a really wide breadth of knowledge and interests that I'll keep with me for life. Education here is definitely about learning for its own sake, but having the Uchicago name behind you is great on the resume too.

Connie
What is your overall opinion of this school?

Overall, I love it. i can't imagine myself anywhere else. I love being at a place where nerdy debates and jokes about Plato a...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

Overall, I love it. i can't imagine myself anywhere else. I love being at a place where nerdy debates and jokes about Plato are commonplace lunch conversation. I love that there are so many student groups that can cater to basically any interest. I love the size of the school; it's small enough that it's not overwhelming, but not so small it's stifling. That isn't to say I don't have my share of complaints about it. The workload isn't quite it. There is a tendency for the administration to not be as receptive to student voices as I believe it should be for the price we are paying for this school. I wish, for example, there were graduated dining plans much like there are at other schools instead of the current plans for people living in housing. I also wish Hyde Park had more to offer in terms of places to go (although this is getting better - we're getting a movie theater soon, and we just got a 24-hour diner that's pretty good). However, there is a lot of good coffee on campus, and for that, as some of the most studious people in the world, we are fortunate.

What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

One of the sayings we love here at the University of Chicago is "where fun comes to die." Most people probably view people at the University of Chicago as nerds who are up all night studying in some masochistic hell in vain search of some ill-defined enlightenment called "the life of the mind." I'm not saying that's not true to some extent, but I do want to stress that while we do love learning here and while those sad nights in the Regenstein Library do happen (more often than most of us would like), most of us do know how to live a little and have fun! We're in a wonderful city filled with great things, and when we have the time (and even at times when we don't!), most of us love to explore it.

What are the academics like at your school?

The academic environment here sometimes can be overwhelming. Most classes are made up of 25 people or fewer and are heavily discussion-driven, which I love. This isn't always true. In, say, economics classes or science core classes, there can be over a hundred students in a single class. And yeah, the academics are pretty difficult here. I can't tell you how many times I wonder how much higher my GPA would be if I were at a different school. Being a paid dispenser of caffeine (read: barista), at the library, I have seen the eyes of desperation during midterm and finals week. However, I love it all. I have been in several classes where it always seemed we didn't have enough time to finish talking about a work because students wanted to participate. It's not uncommon to make jokes about whether or not Plato would think a Rolex approaches the form of a watch more than a cheap watch that still tells time. There are awesome, awesome classes available (there are also some not that awesome ones).

Emily
What are the academics like at your school?

Academics are rather intense at the University of Chicago. It is impossible for any student here to enroll in stereotypical "...

What are the academics like at your school?

Academics are rather intense at the University of Chicago. It is impossible for any student here to enroll in stereotypical "slacker classes" that you might find at other universities, but I would say that most students here are happy with that. Each students spends their first year or first two years fulfilling the Core requirements. The Core is our liberal arts curriculum, designed to give all students extensive experience in all academic fields before selecting a major. Humanities and social sciences classes are small (capped at 19 students) and discussion-based, and the math and science classes are usually lecture-style, but rarely include more than 50 students. Students study quite often, but we make time for relaxation and fun. The best part about UChicago is the fact that nearly all of the students genuinely enjoy learning, which means great class discussions and participation.

What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

Some common stereotypes about UChicago students are that we are nerds, anti-social, and spend all of our time locked up in our room studying. This could not be farther from the truth! While it's true that most people here are nerds about one thing or another (and proud of it), there are plenty of social people and social events to attend every week. The work load here can be a bit heavy, but I don't know anyone who doesn't have at least a few hours every week for some fun. A much more accurate description of UChicago students would be to say that we love learning, we all have fun in our own way, and we take on our challenging schedules eagerly.

Ian
What is your overall opinion of this school?

I couldn't be happier with my choice to attend the University of Chicago. When I initially told all of my friends that I was ...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

I couldn't be happier with my choice to attend the University of Chicago. When I initially told all of my friends that I was coming here, the general reactions were, "I guess you won't be going to a single party for the next four years," and "Wow! I had no idea you were that smart!" With that being said, this school will definitely push you to your limits academically. Countless hours are spent in the library, but the funny thing is; everyone needs to get work done, so going to the library is almost always done with friends, and is not really seen as too much of a drag. I love the size of this school, as I did not want to go to a University with 50,000 students, but also wanted more than 750. I think this 5,000-6,000 student size is perfect, as you still meet plenty of new people every time you go out, but its also not hard to know where everything and everyone lives and interacts. Although the school spirit for athletics sucks (I'm a football player and it tends to be pretty depressing looking up at the stands), everyone still supports the athletes and school in general. Overall I love the challenge of school and competing with some of the best students around the world. As far as the party scene goes, there typically is not too much going on during the week, which I like since that helps keep you focused on your studies, but on the weekends it is easy to find a party close to the dorms. These are always fun, as UIC and Loyolla kids always come down to party with us. The best thing about this school? You are but one 10 minute ride on the metra from the greatest city in the world, Chicago.

What are the academics like at your school?

The academics at the University of Chicago are as to be expected, very challenging. USA today ranked us #5, and we are #5 for a reason. I am only a freshman, so my core has been relatively harmless thus far in terms of time and hardness. The biggest thing that I have taken away is how much more I have learned in my time at this school. To get to listen to the #6 best economist in the world every Tuesday for four hours is simply incredible. I always thought that Plato and Socrates were pretty boring, but when your in a class of 20 with an open discussion on the book with some of the smartest kids our there, you really embrace the competition, and the truly genius ideas that are being said. The class sizes here are awesome, as all the professors know your name, and want you to approach them on a first name basis. This does make it vital to participate in class, but that just helps you as a student. In overall terms, going through the Uchicago education will teach you how to learn, and because of its reputation among companies and America as a whole, you will have one of the best opportunities out there to get a great job.

What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

The typical stereotype for a "Uchicago kid" goes right along with the slogan that the university of Chicago is the place where "fun goes to die." Although i would be lying if I said there are not a good amount of geeks at this school, there is plenty of fun to be had. The nice thing about this school is you will not ever be lured into doing something you do not have to do. Because the curriculum here is indeed so challenging, if you have a midterm on the upcoming Monday and there is a party that Saturday night, everyone understands that you need to stay in and study and get some rest. With that said, there are three main fraternities that throw parties generally every Friday and Saturday which are all open any kid in the school. Personally I like this a lot, because I know at big schools such as Ohio State a lot of times the party's are invite only, and at apartments. With all of this taken into account, at Uchicago there are definitely plenty of kids whose only priority is school, but if you want to come here and still have a good time, there is a good time to be had.

Charles
Describe the students at your school.

There is no such thing as a typical University of Chicago student. While in terms of race the school remains dominated by ca...

Describe the students at your school.

There is no such thing as a typical University of Chicago student. While in terms of race the school remains dominated by caucasians and asians, in terms of perspective it's to image a place more diverse. While occasionally it can seem as if some are in a vigorous competition to outdo each other in terms of strangeness, often the oddities of my fellow students strike me as fascinating, or at least entertaining. Everyone here is smart, and everyone here is far, far, better than you at something, and this is important to keep in mind. While success for some has bred an undue sense of entitlement and arrogance, and sometimes you'll run across someone so pretentious you want to smack them, but on the whole uchicago students are incredibly friendly. Their straight up kindness and general concern for everyone's well being is perhaps their most enduring quality.

What are the academics like at your school?

Academics at the University of Chicago are known for their intensity, and they really deserve it. Classes are difficult, and many students spend the majority of their time coping with coursework. However, its not just busy work--virtually all assignments are actually beneficial. Problem sets, while long, usually can really enhance your math skills and the readings, while equally long, are most often quite interesting. The University makes a big deal of learning for its own sake--hence the famous core system--and most students really embrace it. While it may be frustrating at first to take a class that holds no appeal for you, many students seem to eventually come around and appreciate what they're learning, no matter how far outside their eventual major it may be. Students in most majors do not compete with each other, excepting pre-meds and chemists.

What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

I think that the stereotype of uchicago students is that we're too busy slaving away at our mammoth course-load to ever have any fun. After all, the unofficial slogan is that this the place "where fun comes to die." There is, unfortunately, some validity to this claim. Uchicago is hard, probably as hard as it gets. We do a lot of work, and have only limited free time. However, we make the most of what we get. Parties most certainly do happen here, and when I compare my notes with friends at other schools, it seems that if anything, ours are more intense, if more infrequent. The city of Chicago provides a number of exciting options, from world-class museums to excellent theatrical productions to fantastic food. When you get down to it, most uchicago students have a positive outlook, despite all the work.

gjhj
What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

Common stereotype: Nerds, hipsters, socially awkward True on the most part. There are a few fratty/sorority types, but the ...

What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

Common stereotype: Nerds, hipsters, socially awkward True on the most part. There are a few fratty/sorority types, but the stereotype holds true in most cases.

Elizabeth
What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

UChicago has a very defined stereotype. We even put it on our T-shirts: Where Fun Goes To Die. According to the stereotype, w...

What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

UChicago has a very defined stereotype. We even put it on our T-shirts: Where Fun Goes To Die. According to the stereotype, we're boring, smelly, neurotic nerds who never do anything but study. Also, we talk about Marx and Plato for fun. Also, we're weird. There is some truth to the stereotype, of course. They're not kidding about the academic rigor, I promise. You will be stressed. You will be utterly miserable at times. You will turn down invitations because you have two hundred pages of Plato to read before the next morning and two papers to write over the weekend. And the kind of kids who are drawn to the sort of school that UChicago is are at least a little bit nerdy. Some are more overt about it, but many aren't. You can have the typical college experience at UChicago -- if that's what you want. There are parties in dorms, in frats, at apartments. But it's equally easy to completely avoid parties, if your idea of fun is more along the lines of watching bad movies with your friends or having arguments about philosophy until three in the morning. Fun doesn't die -- it just takes different forms.

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