The diversity in the student body is great, which makes this place interesting as well as extremely open and accepting. I can’t really picture any student that wouldn’t fit in here. There are so many students here that it seems like everyone will be able to find a niche, even students that really want to go out every night. The party scene isn’t as crazy as state schools I’m sure, but if you want to go out, you will find a way. Bar nights on Wednesdays, frequent apartment parties, frat parties on Friday/Saturday nights, etc. What students wear to class is up to them. On any given day, it’ll vary from dressy clothes to sweats and a t-shirt. No pressure is put on what students wear. The student population really is very open. Different kinds of people are friends with each other. Particularly, with the house system, it encourages different types of people to interact because of house activities and the house table (the table in the dining hall designated for every individual house). I love this about the student population. Students here tend to become very close with their housemates, but also make friends outside of the house through classes and extracurricular activities. Some people become closer to other people – it’s natural – but the presence of cliques here is very minimal. Students here are from everywhere around the world, which I love, and come from a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. People are generally politically aware, but activism on campus isn’t overwhelming. A recent survey of the student population shows that most students are liberal. And no, students don’t usually talk about the money they’ll make in the future. UChicago is great for both graduate school and job placement, but education here really focuses on learning for learning’s sake.
In general, the University of Chicago is a very accepting environment. The University community obviously encompasses a lot of different backgrounds. Most students fit in perfectly and find their own niche in terms of apt cultural, ethnic, racial and other student groups. The unique House system of the University initially helps you acclimate to the social challenges of the University by providing you with a close-knit community of 50-80 students who you live with and can say hi to anywhere you see them on compass. It should be noted that these are the students that you normally sit with at the dining tables (though it is certainly not mandatory), especially when you first arrive on campus and feel daunted by the amount of people you meet. Moreover, it is important to remember that the University of Chicago is made up of a diverse group of students. Of the student body, most are middle to upper class and, surprisingly, 30% of the student body is made up of international students. It seems that every student at the University is united, however, by the common bond to learn in a competitive environment, obtain a quality education, and one day become a successful and productive member of their respective societies. Additionally, most students are very politically aware and- while the school, institutionally speaking, seems to be conservative in standing, most of the students are indeed more liberal and progressive. In fact, LGBT rights and racial tolerance seldom prove themselves as hotly contested issues as most students are very accepting and broadminded. Overall, the student body is incredibly varied; to be sure, it is in this diversity that there is strength.
Aside from a common passion and intellectualism, we are reasonably diverse. For our backgrounds and races you could look through our statistics, but I believe we are nearly 60% white, and a even mix of Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans. We have high religious diversity and secularism-- though there is a predominance of Jewish and Christian religions-- and almost students would view the world is a nearly secular way. We have an extremely active and supportive LGBTQ community, as well as cultural groups, Greek organizations, and multi-cultural Greek organizations. Our financial backgrounds are diverse as well, though the skew would probably be toward the upper-middle class. I'd say that our populations are generally more concerned with philosophy and theory behind the little things in life, rather than celebrities, pop music, or make up. Dining halls are filled with students discussing everything from Mad Men or Glee, to the meaning of life, to music, to worst tests. Politically, we might be less active and aware than other schools, though those groups are still quite large. We have a large number of human rights, green awareness and sustainability, etc activists who are making a lot of progress. I wouldn't say that many people are conservative, but that everyone has their beliefs and is open to other ones. Most importantly, our students are accepting of their uncommonness, their interest in academics, their random side athletic or artistic hobbies, and are generally less interested in money as a primary concern. We want to keep our thoughts provoking.
Each table in the dining hall is assigned to a house, which is the floor on which you live. People either sit with their houses (usually this is how it goes first year) or at open tables with friends. House tables tend to be diverse and full at dinner times; people with textbooks gabble about whatever interests them. Snippets might be: Studying for strategy final: 1: So, what's the difference between a gun-type and an implosion-type device? 2: *starts explaining the difference between uranium and plutonium nuclear weapons with a lot of detail for a lecture a month ago* 1: Wait, how do you know all this? You must be a terrorist. 2: Yeah, I interned for al-Qaeda. It was part of my independent research. *keeps explaining* Wait, hold on, how DO I know all of this? 1: Was it for Scav? -- Scav is this gigantic four day scavenger hunt that people get really, really intense about. There's a road trip section where you decorate your car, and one year somebody built a functioning nuclear reactor out of a vacuum cleaner. Or: And then Hilary asks, 'But what about the werewolves?' and then Obama says, 'We CAN defeat the werewolves and the zombies and the vampires and the aliens from outer space with their alien blood, AND the Cylons.'" Or: Dude, that's nothing. I once took a cat in the shower with me. --These are actual quotes from around campus.
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.
The UChicago student body is very diverse. We have students from all over the world and from every state in the US. People here are from different religious, sexual, social and racial backgrounds and everyone feels accepted. I really believe that no one here feels or at least should feel out of place or even the slightest bit od discomfort. In any event that there should be a rare case of discrimination felt, there are many different resources that students can utilize in order to deal with the situation and the college along with the Dean of Students will ensure that justice is brought. Students here relatively well-off many are wealthy, but of course there are those that are not as fortunate as others. This is just another aspect of our diversity here and no one is isolated because of that difference in class. Many of the students here are from the Chicago and other areas in Illinois and also surrounding states. However, due to the uniquely designed housing system (similar to that of Hogwarts) students from different backgrounds lived together in a close-knit community and we learn how to accept people, relate to people from different cultures and lifestyles and build life-long friendships.
It really is a melting pot here. Students are generally very accepting of one another (at least I have never had an experience to indicate otherwise.) Students are from all over the world (the student body is something like 20% international). The most prominent religion on campus seems to be Judaism, though there are a variety of religious groups on campus. When it comes to politics it is hard to say, though I am inclined to say that the student body is predominantly center. People enjoy playing devil's advocate too much to only loyal to the extreme of one side. This being said, because of our age group most people are fairly socially liberal. What people wear to class is completely random...we have full on fashionistas (especially male ones, surprisingly enough) but the common UChicago uniform is jeans and some form of school spirited apparel. We are not an overly fashion conscious school, nor overly name-brand or designer oriented. If that's what you're in to, you can find it, but there certainly isn't any competition about what you wear as opposed to some schools. Because of this, it is often hard to tell the financial backgrounds of the students--there is little need to talk about it.
Everyone here is bright and interesting. Some kids fit the socially awkward stereotype, some are so jock-like you can't believe they're at U of C. I'd say there's a wide range of kids. The big groups I can pick out seem to be the hipsters, who seem to multiply every quarter. You can find them smoking clove cigarettes outside Cobb Coffee shop. The others seem to be Econ majors, who are universally vilified to hoping to make money after graduation instead of sacrificing themselves to the god of academia, as is traditional. They may tend to be a little prepier than the rest of the student body and often make up a fair proportion of the frats. No one cares how you dress here. Jeans and tshirts are prevalent. Sure, some people dress nice most of the quarter but come finals it is all sweats, all the time. Politically, I'd say the campus leans right, though the tradition of the Chicago school certainly lives on. You'll meet a lot of fiscal conservatives, but the social conservatives are harder to find. The campus isn't too political overall though the College Dems and Republicans and strong, fairly large organizations and all my friends, at least, enjoy talking about current events.
It's pretty hard to describe the typical student at the University of Chicago, because each student is so different from another. That's what makes the University of Chicago such a fantastic academic and social experience, because you have the opportunity to get to know so many diverse individuals. I was an athlete, but also was involved in a fashion magazine. This put me in contact with two very different groups of people on campus. But then again, I was a tour guide, and tour guides tended to be absolutely amazing, quirky, incredibly involved individuals. UChicago has so many different people that it's hard to stereotype them. Even at the frat parties, I'd see people who would have been deemed way too nerdy at my high school-- yet here they were the life of the party. That's because UChicago tends to treat people based on their personalities, and not on their looks, which is awesome. We're a very welcoming bunch of people, and I think that's why UChicago gets typecast as an incredibly quirky/nerdy school. It's not that we necessarily are-- we just welcome those people, and they don't need to change their quirkiness or nerdiness to fit in. They're welcome here regardless.
The University of Chicago is fairly diverse, with especially strong Jewish and Asian populations. However, the interests of its students are so varied that it would take days to name every student organization and club on campus. The only kind of student who would feel out of place here is one who hates studying. Different types of students definitely interact--I'm part of Greek life at the school, which has lately been growing its presence on campus, but I have friends and acquaintances that span the spectrum of personalities and interests here at UChicago. Describing the tables of students at the dining hall is a little silly, simply because every table at the dining hall is assigned by house. A house is typically anywhere from 50-200 students, and this is your home base (a social group you can rely on) while you live in housing, which is typically for the first two years. So every table in the dining hall boasts a unique mix of students! Most students are politically aware, and many love debating current issues. A few students participated in Occupy Chicago this year!