An Interview On
University of Chicago

Background

Interview Date:November 2018

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Private school in Los Angeles, CA with a graduating class of about 300 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Psychology and Comparative Human Development
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: I do ceramics at the Art Center in Hyde Park, and I’m part of the Peer Health Exchange.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
Definitely the Peer Health Exchange. It’s given me the opportunity to connect with the South Side of Chicago differently. You’re often in a bubble at UChicago, so being able to connect with actual high school students in the Chicago public school district is cool.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your majors?
I don’t have too many labs. I’m taking the Core Biology sequence which is required. For Psychology specifically, it’s a lot of readings, articles, and journal entries about the readings. The major assignments are papers.

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.

How accessible have the professors in your department been?
Very.

Why did you pick your majors? Are you happy with your choice?
I’ve always been interested in Psychology, and I took a class my senior year of high school and fell in love with it. I think Comparative Human Development (CHP) provides a nice balance, and compliments Psychology. Psychology is a lot more focused on the neuroscience aspect of it, and with CHP you see some of the psychological phenomenon acting in person, and implementing ideas into real life.

Do you feel people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Yeah, I’d say the majority of the school has a more liberal perspective, but I’ve met people that are very much not liberal.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at UChicago?
I like to go downtown as much as I can. If I’m staying on campus I like to help host apartment parties or have dinners, or we’ll go to the occasional frat party. When I go downtown I try to find a fun restaurant or an art installation.

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 nights of the week do you regularly do things?
Usually Fridays or Saturdays.

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.

How happy are you with the weekend activities or nightlife at your school? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I don’t think I’m the biggest fan of frat parties. I think you have to be in the mood for them. Being a second-year student is a lot better because most of my friends have apartments. I don’t think I’d change anything.

What have been your favorite times at UChicago?
Summer Breeze was really fun last year. It’s a Spring concert that they host every year. They get someone to perform, and it’s finally warm outside. The Fall concert was also fun.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: International House with two roommates.

Sophomore: Renee Granville-Grossman, known as “South” in a single.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
For the most part I’ve felt pretty safe. There were a couple of times last year where I felt unsafe just because of the rumors I’ve heard about the South side of Chicago, but there’s plenty of security officers all across campus and we have the blue light system. I never feel like I’m in danger on campus.

How was transitioning from Los Angeles to Chicago?
I think it was easier for me than for other students because I come from a big city. The only hard thing to adjust to was the winter because L.A. doesn’t have snow.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Probably Medici on 57th.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
The Art Institute.

What are the pros and cons of being located in the Hyde Park Neighborhood of Chicago?
Pros:
1) 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.
2) A lot of professors live in Hyde Park, so it’s fun to see your professors walking their dog.

Cons:
1) Sometimes it can get a little sleepy, and there aren’t a ton of restaurants and things to do off campus.
2) 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.

Campus Culture

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.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
UChicago is a very liberal and progressive environment, and I think that fosters a sense of community here. It allows everyone to get involved no matter what your race or sexual orientation is. I’m a straight, White female so I don’t notice certain things that marginalized groups would, but I think it’s a pretty good environment and there’s a good mix of people. [About 5% of students are Black.]

How has the size of your school influenced your social experience? [There are about 6,600 students.]
I think it’s a perfect size. I know a lot of students that went to a public school that had a ton of people, so it wasn’t a huge transition. It’s not too big where it’s overwhelming, but it’s not too small where you know every single person. It’s fun because you get to meet a new person everywhere you go while still seeing familiar faces.

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 it’s really hard, and I’ve definitely questioned my decision a couple of times when I had a really long paper, but for the most part it’s a really rewarding experience. I’m only a second year and I feel like I’ve gotten smarter and have a new way of thinking. I do think people are happy when they graduate.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
We have the office of Career Advancement that has helped me a little bit, but I haven’t reached out or used the alumni network.

What you used the office of Career Advancement for? How helpful were they?
I used them to help me structure my resume and cover letter, and for finding strategies to use when applying to jobs. Aside from that, we use Handshake which helps find job listings.

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that will be helpful professionally?
We used a little bit of R in Core Biology, but I didn’t understand what was going on.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about UChicago before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew that you didn’t have to do every single page of reading to do well or to participate in the discussion. I was kind of killing myself last year trying to get it all done, but I think you just have to understand certain sacrifices have to be made if you want to live a normal life where you actually get sleep. You have to learn how to balance and compromise with certain assignments or readings to keep yourself sane. It’s very easy to spread yourself too thin if you’re trying to do every single thing.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Check out the Smart Museum of Art. The Oriental Institution is cool, and I’d go into Harper Memorial Library.

Reasons to attend UChicago:
1) It’s in one of the greatest cities in the country.
2) 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.
3) The campus is truly breathtaking.
4) The classes you can take are awesome. There are lots of signature courses that are cool. One of my friends is taking a class on Ghosts.

Reasons to not attend UChicago:
1) It’s really hard, and there will come points where you think you can’t get it all done, and that can be very overwhelming.
2) A lot of the STEM courses are heavily curved because the averages on a lot of exams are below 50%, which can be discouraging.

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