U of C has had a bad reputation for a while as being a cold, uncaring and depressing place. When I was thinking about attending, some of my father’s friends who had gone to U of C tried to warn me off. They had had a miserable time there and were worried I would hate it. Even nowadays I hear stories from people I know who had friends who went to U of C who found it too demanding and were chewed up and spit out. Now don’t get me wrong, the classes are demanding. You have to do the reading - and there is a lot of reading. And you have to go to classes and do the work - just like you expect. But I found that most professors were accommodating and friendly. I didn’t get fantastic grades but I managed to graduate with honors and I never really felt over-worked (well maybe my glasses a rose tinted - but honestly it wasn't all that bad). If it sounds unappealing, keep in mind that you don’t have to totally surrender yourself to the “life of the mind” to benefit from it (I’m living proof of that). I’ve already mentioned Hyde Park, and while it is getting better, there is still a problem with crime from the neighborhood leaking onto the campus. I never got mugged, but I know several people who were. The school has a competent private police force and Chicago P.D. is ever-present as well but there were definitely times when I felt unsafe walking home at night. Did I live in constant fear? Hardly. Frankly, it’s not all that bad and the neighborhood is constantly getting better, but it is a part of life out there, so it's something to think about.
People might wonder about the safety of our campus. Unlike our peer institutions, or some of them at least, we have our very own police department that patrol campus on a regular basis and that are avaible for an escort shadow service when students take their 4AM stroll back to their dorm from one the libraries. Also we have a shuttle system that runs from 6PM until 3AM and another service called the Safe Ride which runs from 6PM to 6AM. Our students are aware of all of these resources and they utilize them in order to remain safe on campus. Being a college in a large research university setting, our undergraduates are priviledged to have at their access high-tech laboratory equipment for research purposes. There are also many opportunities for research (science and business) here at UChicago, whether it be during the quarter or over the summer break. Students can also take advantage of study abroad programs in over 40 countries including at a campus Paris that is owned by the University.
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.
My school creates well rounded through our unique curriculum, The Core This was, at first, frustrating; why do I need physics when I am studying culture? However, I can now see how much The Core has benefited me. I can see philosophical arguments in my anthropology readings. The Core has helped me to connect all knowledge gained in all classes, enhancing my academic experience in school and ensuring a healthy mind and love for learning the future. The University of Chicago is a place where the educational experience is an odyssey of overlapping and correlating subjects, ideas, theories and concepts.
The University of Chicago invokes strong emotions. People love it, hate it, are horribly bored with it, passionately want to change it, desperately wish it would stay the same.... the whole gamut. You might be any of these. I myself am very happy here. There are some incredible people, including professors, and it's a lot of fun, when it isn't finals week. The thing is, nobody is going to come after you and make you enjoy yourself-- they're going to assume you're one of those anti-social kids. You make of UChicago what you want, and you get out of it whatever you put in. But I guess that's college.
The University of Chicago is unique in that they expressed a sincere interest in understanding and connecting with my philosophy, rather than just that which showed up on my resume. The only essay that I wrote specifically tailored towards any of the schools that I applied to was the University of Chicago's. This was a function of the quirkiness of the essay questions and of the connection that I felt with the school and the city. This connection existed only with Chicago because only Chicago was communicate its unique features in ways that departed from the standard university boilerplate.
My school requires students to think critically in all their their classes. My coursework has focused more on reading and writing than any of my friends' at other schools--writing well and often is necessary. The students have a quirky sense of humor (look up the T-shirts we make; if they make you laugh, you'd probably fit here). Everyone comes from different regional and socioeconomic backgrounds, and no one cares at ALL. If anything, we're more interested in people who are different, and we don't try to fit others into boxes for our own comfort.
The University of Chicago is unique in that it is truly a haven for the academic thinker, a place where one is embraced for being a ?nerd.? It is a place where one can see any number of self deprecating t-shirts which take pride in the fact that we are not your typical university, one of the favorites displays the phrase, ?where fun comes to die.? You will often find students studying on the weekends rather than attending the nearest fraternity party. The University is unique in that there is a student culture unlike any other in the country.
It is an ivy-league quality education in an urban center in the midwest. The students are nerdy and quirky and take academics seriously. The library system is fantastic. The community service center is highly developed and continues to improve. There is the oppertunity to become meaningfully involved in urban issues and make a tangible difference. We have an outdoor iceskating rink and beautiful gothic architecture. The undergraduate dormitories and dinning halls foster "house life" that builds a unique sense of community.
If you come to this school, you have to want it. It's like an entity that can see if you're not willing to sacrifce the time to do good work. We have parties (both study and non). We have fun. We have friends. Don't let the stereotypes scare you away from this school. Hell, don't let these entries determine things for you - come and see the school. Everyone I know here has said that when they visited here the first time, they knew it was right. If it's right, you love it, and the work is worth the reward.