University of Chicago Top Questions

Describe the students at your school.

Keira

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

Melissa

cool

Charles

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.

Andrew

Students here are pretty liberal. A lot of kids are pretty wealthy, but not the majority as depicted by the public. Most people are pretty friendly and relatively social in nature. A lot of students are international and from far away, while another good percentage are from the suburbs of Chicago. Students are very serious about academics, which takes away from some of their interests in other things such as sports. However, most of the students I would say are pretty well-rounded.

Hewon

Students come from all around the world and clearly not every person comes from the same socio-economic level. There are a wide range of ethnicities and cultures represented here as well as religions, sexual orientations, and interests. I know many people who are involved in cultural organizations, or bible study groups, sports, Greek life, University Theatre, Doc Films, LGBTQ, MUNUC, and a plethora of other student groups. If you have a particular interest and you cannot find an RSO (registered student organization) for that already, there is always the option of starting your own RSO by getting it approved by the Committee on Recognized Student Organizations (CORSO). Like any other college with similar weather, we dress like college kids. College sweatshirts, jeans, bags, but a lot of people have their own personal style and expression in the way they dress. Hipsters, jocks, book worms, whatever aside, will all, if not properly dressed, catch a cold.

Rebecca

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.

Lucy

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.

Julianne

The best part of the University of Chicago is the diversity of students that you get to meet. We have a large portion of international students and students of all races. In fact, our school really provides resources for every kind of student. We have 3-4 churches and synagogues on campus, with trips to mosques on the weekends for people to stay religious on campus. We have 50 or so multi-cultural organizations for every race and each holds some kind of show every year. We have 5710, a center for multicultural students and LGBTQ students as well. We have a great financial aid program to help any student with financial needs as well as many work-study jobs. Different students interact all the time as my friends are from all over and have all different kinds of hobbies. This is due to the housing system that puts a diverse group of students together and gives them opportunities to get to know each other. If you want to be politically active, we have multiple club to do that, as well as many opportunities in the city to do so.

Julianne

The best part of the University of Chicago is the diversity of students that you get to meet. We have a large portion of international students and students of all races. In fact, our school really provides resources for every kind of student. We have 3-4 churches and synagogues on campus, with trips to mosques on the weekends for people to stay religious on campus. We have 50 or so multi-cultural organizations for every race and each holds some kind of show every year. We have 5710, a center for multicultural students and LGBTQ students as well. We have a great financial aid program to help any student with financial needs as well as many work-study jobs. Different students interact all the time as my friends are from all over and have all different kinds of hobbies. This is due to the housing system that puts a diverse group of students together and gives them opportunities to get to know each other. If you want to be politically active, we have multiple club to do that, as well as many opportunities in the city to do so.

Dillon

There is no typical student at UChicago. The campus is very diverse racially with very large numbers of South and East Asians. The diversity also extends to socio-economics because of the university's commitment to generous financial aid. Like most campuses, I would say that most students are religiously apathetic but there are many religious communities well represented on campus. Apathy also extends to the political area and those who are active are part of the UC Democrats, one of the largest organizations on campus. The student that would feel out of place at this school would be the person looking for D1 sports and D1 pride. That is definitely not the case on campus, and many students don't even know that we have sports teams. Students here tend to be very intellectual but not at all prude about their intelligence. Everyone here is smart in their own way and it really adds to the diversity of campus.

Claire

The student body is DIVERSE - all countries, languages, religions, socio-economic statuses, backgrounds, affiliations, and interests. But UChicago students do have a few things in common. Most UChicago students dress well (few sport pajamas to classes taught by Nobel laureates). It's not uncommon to see someone buying coffee at midnight getting ready to post up in the library all night, but it doesn't always entail that they're going solo. The students have strong views but are pretty tolerant; intellectual debates are never hard to find, but they typically don't end in the people involved storming off upset. Most people get along with people unlike them just fine.

Kathleen

UChicago is not a conservative school. The students tend to be pretty politically liberal, openminded, and progressive. Chicago is extremely diverse in terms of race, LGBT, and socio-economic background. While students are respectful at Chicago, they will question your beliefs. Admittedly, there are not a ton of highly religious students at Chicago, but they do actively think about and defend their beliefs. There is a high portion of students from the midwest, but Chicago draws students from around the world. Because of the highly academic nature of Chicago (and the cold), class is anything but a fashion contest. As students typically eat with their house in the dining hall, a diverse group of students are often thrown together and not grouped by race, socio-economic background, where they are from, etc.

Esther

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!

Stephen

My previous response(opinion of school/stereotype) addresses this question well.

Sarah

Racially the school is broken down like most top-tier schools: mostly white and Asian (including Southeast Asian), with a sprinkling of Hispanic and black students on top. A decent percent of students come from very well-off and well-connected families, and this is especially prominent among foreign students, as they receive no financial aid. However, a good percentage of students also receive financial need-based aid, and so overall there is no one socio-economic majority. The housing system (everyone is required to live in housing first year, and all students are assigned to a house of 40-100 people with whom they live and share a dining table) allows students to mix and form friendships with people they may not have previously interacted with. That being said, racial and cultural groups do form, as they are wont to do anywhere. Students are predominantly left-leaning socially, but there is a strong population of fiscal conservatives on campus and the College Republicans RSO (registered student organization) is one of the best funded RSOs on campus.

Sarah

Racially the school is broken down like most top-tier schools: mostly white and Asian (including Southeast Asian), with a sprinkling of Hispanic and black students on top. A decent percent of students come from very well-off and well-connected families, and this is especially prominent among foreign students, as they receive no financial aid. However, a good percentage of students also receive financial need-based aid, and so overall there is no one socio-economic majority. The housing system (everyone is required to live in housing first year, and all students are assigned to a house of 40-100 people with whom they live and share a dining table) allows students to mix and form friendships with people they may not have previously interacted with. That being said, racial and cultural groups do form, as they are wont to do anywhere. Students are predominantly left-leaning socially, but there is a strong population of fiscal conservatives on campus and the College Republicans RSO (registered student organization) is one of the best funded RSOs on campus.

Sarah

Racially the school is broken down like most top-tier schools: mostly white and Asian (including Southeast Asia), with a sprinkling of Hispanic and black students on top. A decent percent of students come from very well-off and well-connected families, and this is especially prominent among foreign students, as they receive no financial aid. However, a good percentage of students also receive financial need-based aid, and so overall there is no one socio-economic majority. The housing system (everyone is required to live in housing first year, and all students are assigned to a house of 40-100 people with whom they live and share a dining table) allows students to mix and form friendships with people they may not have previously interacted with. That being said, racial and cultural groups do form, as they are wont to do anywhere. Students are predominantly left-leaning socially, but there is a strong population of fiscal conservatives on campus and the College Republicans RSO (registered student organization) is one of the best funded RSOs on campus.

Karim

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.

Karim

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.

Marcella

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.

Seleste

The school is relatively diverse in relation to their students. One doesn't just meet students from all over the country, but also from around the world. Every student can find at least one way to immerse themselves in what the School has to offer. There are different groups of peoples here, with a wide range of ethnic, social and political groups.

Ilknur

The University of Chicago is very diverse indeed. There are a lot of people with different ideas, religions, ethnical and financial background. Here, everybody is interesting! I do not think that someone would feel out of place at UChicago. Chicago is cold so students wear a lot of layers to class. There are definitely preppy, hipster or casually dressed students in a class. But, different people here always interact. It is not surprising to see a football player speaking to a math geek. Furthermore, UChicago students and professors are politically aware. For example, in my Hum class last week, we discussed the reaction of UC Davis Police against student protestors. Students are predominantly liberal however there are also very conservative students. All in all, as it is aforementioned: the university is very diverse.

Yuzhou

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.

Mahjeed

My classmates are very intelligent for the most part.

Steph

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.

Melissa

Racism, like I said before, is a big problem, though generally not among students. I can't really say for certain though, since I happen to be white. The student body is also extremely secular, though there are places of worship and a strong Divinity School. The student body is fairly liberal, though pretty conservative in comparison with peer schools. As a relatively poor person (lower middle class/lower class), I often feel alienated by the exceedingly wealthy trust fund babies around the school. Once I even heard someone proudly claim they picked this school because it was the most expensive. Only 52% of the Class of 2013 qualifies for any financial aid at all, including loans. (This was the number they told us based on a survey done by everyone at the beginning of the year, so there is probably a margin of error.) Almost all of my friends are significantly richer than me. Many of them live in fabulous houses in fabulously rich, predominantly white places and it gets pretty depressing at times. My roommate practically lived in a mansion, and I know people with yachts. That isn't to say there aren't poorer people around here, but most of them are middle/upper-middle class. International students are also, in general, fabulously wealthy. It's interesting to note that most people view themselves as poorer than they actually are, which I suppose is true of many Americans. I really wish I knew poorer people from outside of the United States, since I think that'd really give an interesting additional perspective.

Jing

They are quirky, funny, intellectual beyond belief, way smarter than me, and successful like I one day want to be.

Kathryn

My classmates at the University of Chicago vary from extremely quiet to annoyingly outspoken, but they have all challenged me to take on perspectives I had never considered.

Hamsini

Students here pursue knowledge for its own sake, but are saved from being classified as intellectual eggheads by a quirky sense of humor and a high level of involvement in extracurricular activities.

Adele

My classmates are the type of people that can be a little daunting because they are so determined to succed, but when one looks past that, they become the type of people who are intelligent, hardworking, and reasonable and who, because of their determination, will push a person to become competitive and driven when it comes to academics.

Danielle

My class mates were very determined and unique.

Ido

Everyone here is really engaged with their learning , and you will a spectrum of students ranging from the laid back to the extremely studious with everything in between; regardless of the intensity with which they study though, almost everyone you'll meet at the University of Chicago is extremely nice, if not genuine.

Brittany

Weird

Jackie

They are either extremely science/math minded or social science minded, and they all care very much about whatever they have chosen to study, some times to the point of obsession; many are people who were very sucessful in high school but are humbled by the difficulty of our school once they come here and earn C's and D's for the first time.

Ariadne

University of Chicago students are self-selecting in that they are ready to enter an intense learning environment and become a resident of the city of Chicago; if you think you belong there, then you probably do.

Emily

Not everyone knows where they want to end up in life, but everyone has something that they feel passionately about.

Benjamin

Competetive and intellectual

Margaret

My classmates are smart, academically competitive, and generally interesting.

Amy

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.

Summer

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.

Karina

Not very talkative, but brilliant. Somewhat clique-y, but nice enough.

Priya

Pretentious yet interesting.

David

The most stimulating group of people I have ever and WILL ever be with. I love it here and will dearly miss it. People are motivated and full of intellectual vigor. People generally eat food at their cafeteria's house or dorm table. It allows you to eat with a group of people you know at almost any hour of the day. Most students move out of the dorms by their second or third years and into off-campus apartments. Apartments are cheaper and teach you the life skills you'll need when you graduate. I highly recommend moving out of the dorms half way through college!

Ryan

What I like about the U of C is that it's hard to pin down a specific "type" who goes here. Sure, they've probably got tiny nerd molecules floating around in there somewhere, but walking on the quads you see so many different types of people walking together: you've got the hipsters, the nerds, the preppy kids, the athletes, etc. There is no mold for a U of C student. I look at it this way: if the U of C were a person, I would love to be friends with it. With so many different personalities, ideas, and ideals, it's not hard to find your niche here.

Allison

Students here are driven to succeed and very interested in what they study- one of the things I liked best about this school is that if you are walking around campus, you will hear kids in a variety of conversations, from plays and events in the city to parties that weekend to intense academic debates about mathematical theorums. Students here are very passionate about everything they do, and most students have a broad span of interests

Michael

Many of the classmates seem isolated and often gravitate to "clicks" of culture and race.

Jason

Student body is quite diverse and open. Honestly, someone who isn't very involved in learning, or thinks that spending time in the library is lame would not fit in. Obviously there are many very liberal students, but the incredibly strong economic program fosters more libertarians and fiscal conservatives. Financial background is very broad, from humble backgrounds to Saudi Arabian princes.

Harper

Students are quite tolerant of ethnic, religious, socio-economic, and sexual diversity. Dress is typically informal, and financial backgrounds of students vary considerably. My closest friend is from a much different economic background than mine. I have heard many people complain that parties are too infrequent or lame here, so maybe if someone had parties near the top of his or her priorities then this school is not a good fit. Many students are politically aware. Most of my friends have relatively informed political opinions, but not all of them favor the same positions. They are mainly socially and fiscally liberal, but everyone is open to discussion and it is all good-natured.

Casey

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.

Morgan

LGBTQ isn't that active on campus; it's largely Asian, White, Indian, Jewish, and Northern, with a smaller Hispanic and Black population. Most students wear jeans and button downs or t shirts to class, and in the winter, t shirts, sweaters, jeans, under armor, boots, and three pairs of socks. Some people would rather study than wash their hair every day, but that just means interesting hairdos in the morning. Most people are wealthier just because this school is better known in wealthy circles, but I for one am not and love it. Money isn't really a thing here. There exists a Conservative political contingent and they are active but not as active and the College Dems, who get a speaker to come to their gala every year, and this year they got Gloria Steinem. A fairly decent number of students will go into investment banking or consulting. The biggest extracurriculars on campus are MUN, SASA (South Asian Students Organization), and, probably, either Hillel or Student Government. Anyone willing to think a lot would be welcome here.

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