Impressions Of
University of Chicago

Academic Experience

Female Psychology and Comparative Human Development Double Major C/O 2021

Is there anything that you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or especially poorly?
I think the articles and papers we read are often biased toward a White male perspective. I don’t think there’s a lot of diversity in either the authors or the study samples we read. I like that we get to read a lot of interesting articles. They make me think about not only what certain psychological studies are analyzing, but how they analyze the data.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s not competitive. I know that at a lot of other high performing schools there can be academic tension between the students, but here it’s not like that at all. It’s much more collaborative.

Female Economics and Political Science Double Major C/O 2021

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your majors?
This quarter I had my first Economics class and we didn’t have any problem sets and just had three midterms and a final, which is very unusual for that class. Usually for Economics classes, you have problem sets every week. I took a Political Science elective last spring to see if I liked it, and that was weird because I was one of two first-years in the class. We had a final and a ton of every day reading that we had to be prepared to discuss in class. This quarter I’m taking an introductory class which is a lecture with about 150 people and the workload is readings, going to lecture, and then essays.

Is there anything that you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or especially poorly?
At least for the core sequence I’m in for Economics, it was a bit of shock to get used to how they grade. They grade it so the average will end up being around a 50, which is strange because if you get an A, that’s an indication that you shouldn’t be in the and should be in more challenging sequence. It’s a little backward because if you’re meant to be in the class you shouldn’t do as well as you hope. The grades are then curved, but they don’t let us know what the curve is, you find out at the end of the quarter which is interesting.

Male Computer Science Major C/O 2021

How do you like the quarter system?
I don’t think it’s really impacted my academic experience. Socially, all my other friends are always out of school when I’m in school and our vacations don’t match up, which is pretty annoying.

Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
They do a good job of applying everything you learn in class pretty quickly after in the homework and the labs. Everything just takes a lot of time.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
In Computer Science, people are pretty relaxed. People will help you out with whatever you need and there’s a lot of collaboration. For UChicago in general, it’s only collaborative if you’re friends with the person or it’s a group project. If you want help, you can usually reach out and get it, but it’s not necessarily offered to you. I think that’s because people don’t really ask for help all the time and tend to rely on themselves before others because they’re pretty academically skilled.

Social Opportunities

Female Psychology and Comparative Human Development Double Major C/O 2021

Can you describe a typical night going out freshman year when you were less socially established?
Because most of your friends are first-year students and they don’t have apartments, we’d go to frats with a group of kids from our dorm. Nobody knew anyone that well, and we’d go to and from in huge groups.

What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
It’s not as prominent as it is at other schools. We only have four sororities and seven or eight fraternities. It’s not the type of thing where if you’re not in a sorority or frat you’re not part of the social scene, that’s not it at all. It’s not something that appealed to me, especially at UChicago because I think it’s different here than other schools.

Female Economics and Political Science Double Major C/O 2021

Who generally hosts apartment parties?
Most of them are hosted by people I’m friends with or people that I have mutual friends with. Sometimes organizations will throw them, but I enjoy them slightly less just because it’s a group of people I don’t really have a connection to.

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you participate in at UChicago?
As time has passed, I get tired more easily [laughs] so the idea of going to a frat party seems less and less appealing. Those were popular freshman year, but now I go to apartment parties and hang out with friends. A lot of what I do is going over to people’s places and chilling out and then maybe going over to a party. I tend to do that just on the weekends because I’m tired during the week, especially when it’s cold outside it seems less appealing.

Male Computer Science Major C/O 2021

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you participate in at UChicago?
I’m not really a frat dude so I don’t go to any of those parties. I’ll go to the Organization of Black Students parties when they do pop up on Friday or Saturday because they’re pretty fun. I’ll also go to the city now and again. Everything I do decreases a lot when it’s cold because I really hate the cold and having to go places with the wind-chill has significantly decreased my movement. I suggest bringing a nice collection of winter clothes.

How happy are you with the weekend options? Is there anything you would change?
It’s not very good. I would not really recommend it. There are Wednesday bar nights all the time and besides that, there are frat parties, but those aren’t my vibe. I don’t think it’s a good nightlife at all.

Campus Culture

Female Psychology and Comparative Human Development Double Major C/O 2021

How did you meet your closest friends?
I met a couple of my closest friends through my house. UChicago has the house system, so every dorm building is divided into four or five houses that you’re assigned to when you apply. It’s just a group you can be a part of. They have assigned house tables in the dining hall that you can sit at if you want to. It’s a good way to meet people, and you can do house trips and events. A couple of my friends came from classes, and for the most part just mutual friends from then on.

How would you describe the overall social scene?
I think a lot of people don’t like it, but I think there are a lot of misconceptions about it. “It’s where fun comes to die” is one of the most famous sayings at UChicago, but there’s definitely fun stuff going on, and I wouldn’t come here if it were actually where fun comes to die. I think a lot of students are more academic and career-oriented who don’t have time to have fun or go to parties, but that’s not the majority of the population. You can find stuff going on pretty much every night whether it’s Wednesday bar night, events, or dinners. I don’t think it’s as crazy as some other big state schools, but it’s not what a lot of people think it is.

Female Economics and Political Science Double Major C/O 2021

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think it’s mixed because, in my experience, there is a lot of diversity and mixing, but it also depends on the organization you’re a part of and what you like to do. I also think it depends on luck because of who you live with freshman year. One this is there are some spaces and organizations, like multicultural clubs, you have more of an opportunity to meet people of other races, sexualities, and so forth. There are also people who don’t get involved in that and that can close you off to meeting people like that.

How would you describe the student body?
I don’t want to go into the realm of feeding into the stereotype that UChicago students are really weird and nerdy because it’s just not true. There is a vibe where you meet really cool people with similar interests that you really vibe with, but you’ll also meet people who are kind of weird and really neat, which is great because they’re living their best lives. So, the stereotype does have some truth to it so to ignore that would be misleading.

Female Political Science Major C/O 2020

How did you meet your closest friends?
My best friend was my freshman year roommate. She messaged me two days before the deadline [to submit roommates] and then we lived together and became best friends. The rest of my friends are in Greek life. I either know them through my sorority or different frats. It’s nice because a lot of them who I’m close with are in the same major as me.

Do you think people are happy with their choice of UChicago by senior year? Do you think people leave loving UChicago?
I think so. I think after the fact I’ll be like, “Yes, this place was really, really hard, and it had some of my worst moments, but I know I don’t think I could see myself in a different place.” The experiences I have had here are truly unique and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Chicago, IL

Pros of

  • “There is a lot of culture. You see a lot of art, exhibits, and people who are into different things that you’ve never even heard of. It’s really interesting to live in a place where it overflows with that kind of cultural curiosity.”
  • “You’re twenty minutes away from the city, which is nice because you feel like you’re in a small neighborhood with that cozy feel, but at the same time you’re not far from Chicago.”
  • “A lot of professors live in Hyde Park, so it’s fun to see your professors walking their dog.”
  • “Hyde Park has nice parks and has some nice history.”

Cons of

  • “The food situation is bad. All the chains and stuff are long walks away. After a year of eating dining hall food, I need something close by.”
  • “Being somewhat close to Chicago and also somewhat not. It takes about 45-minutes to get into the city which can be ridiculously annoying.”
  • “It’s easy to stay in Hyde Park and not go into other areas of Chicago. Everything we need is here and if you’re not conscious of it, it’s easy not to explore.”
  • “We do get some security alerts about muggings and stuff like that. For the most part, the things that happen to students include just getting their phone stolen, but no one gets hurt.”

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Female Economics and Political Science Double Major C/O 2021

What is something you wish you knew about UChicago before entering as a freshman?
To be okay with not doing as well as you’d like. The majority of students are overachievers and really like putting in the work to make sure something’s good and succeeding academically, but it’s not possible to do that all the time. Going in, that was a bit of a shock to me to learn that getting a 60 on a math test was normal and okay. I actually appreciate that a lot because I’ve learned to not put as much emphasis on how I’m doing grade-wise. I have learned to let that go and focus more on what I’m learning and what I’m getting out of the class.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
There’s a café called Sanctuary Café. It is so nice because they have a lot of good pastries and their coffee’s great. I would definitely recommend going there.

Male Computer Science Major C/O 2021

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
That’s hard because certain things are much better to do when it’s warmer. I think you should go and bike around the Point and up towards Chicago. That’s always a lot of fun for me. There isn’t a specific place that I really love in Chicago, but things start to open up the warmer it is and the little places on the water are always beautiful.

What is something you wish you knew about UChicago before entering as a freshman?
It’s all about scheduling your time here. Schedule your time so you won’t get too distracted. If you’re going to go out, maybe get some work done or plan around that. Also, make sure to explore the city as much as possible. You don’t want to get stuck on campus too much because, especially during the winter, it can get sad and depressing because it’s cold and it looks bad outside.

 

Female Political Science Major C/O 2020

What is something you wish you knew about UChicago before entering as a freshman?
It’s super okay to change your mind. I had a huge existential crisis over the fact that I didn’t know if I wanted to be a pre-med student. It took a friend talking to me to make me realize that it’s okay to not know what you want to do with the rest of your life.

Then also to use your resources and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to message your teachers randomly to meet for coffee or something. I messaged the head of the Public Policy school to get coffee and she was a really helpful resource and is how I got into one of my classes.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
There’s a really cute botany pond that’s picturesque that they don’t talk about. It’s really beautiful to have picnics at or run to.

Reasons to attend and not to attend University of Chicago

To Attend

  • “The UChicago name carries weight. In terms of graduate school or job applications, I’m starting to realize how much weight it carries.”
  • “Chicago as a city is pretty amazing. A lot of the architecture is stunning. It’s also nice to be involved in a pretty big and popular city that has a lot more people of color.” [About 36% of the population of Chicago is Black.]
  • “The Core Curriculum has benefited my education a lot. I feel that if I had gone to another college I wouldn’t have read nearly as many fundamental works as I have. No matter what you’re majoring in, it’s helpful to know what Marx is about. It’s contributed to my growth as a person, not just a student.”
  • “The student body and professors are truly some of the most ambitious and passionate people I’ve ever met, whether that be academically, or in extracurricular activities. This ambition is very contagious and makes you do as much and learn as much as you can.”

To Not Attend

  • “If you’re someone who doesn’t like to do work. I don’t know anybody who has not said, “I’m not going out tonight to do work.” It definitely breaks you down before it builds you up.”
  • “For somebody who’s pre-med, you’re not going to have a perfect GPA. Accept that you will have a lower GPA than you expect when you graduate when you compare to the national average. Medical schools consider that you go to UChicago. It can be really frustrating to work your butt off and still not the grade that you want. If you care more about the grade than what you learned, don’t come.”
  • “It can be sad to see some of the segregation and disparity in some areas of the city.”
  • “If you value the traditional social life and the idea of Greek life how it is at big state schools, it’s not the place for you.”
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