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  • Writer's pictureAlison Merzel

School Spotlight: University of Chicago

Updated: May 8, 2023

The long-standing reputation of UChicago as the place "Where Fun Comes to Die" may make some prospective students run in the other direction. While current students and alumni admit to some truth to the phrase, they will tell you that just like most college students, they know how to have fun, too. Yes, UChicago students share a keen love of learning - if engaging in highly intellectual conversations in the library in the wee hours of the night is not your cup of tea, maybe it isn't for you. Yet, with a diverse community of students, over 400 student organizations, and access to downtown Chicago, even the least nerdy academic can find some fun at the University of Chicago :). Here are 5 fun facts:

1) You may not naturally associate the University of Chicago with "green space," but you should - The University of Chicago is a certified botanic garden by the American Public Garden Association and one of the few universities whose campuses are either a botanic garden or arboretum.

2) The University of Chicago's Institute of Politics offers a nonpartisan opportunity "designed to ignite in young people a passion for politics and public service." It is headed by David Axelrod, President Obama's former chief strategist and senior advisor. The UC IOP has hosted presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang as speakers. Recent live streamed topics include "What does Freedom Mean to You," a talk with Former Congressman Justin Amash and former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick; a roundtable discussion "Defund or Reform the Police?" and Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perrino featuring Ed Gillespie on Dana's book "Everything Will Be Okay: Life Lessons for Young Women." Students can participate in numerous academic programs, civic engagement, and leadership opportunities, as well as explore internship opportunities and other career resources through the IOP.

3) University of Chicago has a six-quarter campus housing requirement for first-year students and residential life is set up as a house system, where students are assigned to House communities comprised of 40 to 100 people. Houses compete with one another in intramural sports and other campus-wide events, and they also have their own "house tables" within dining halls. This enables students to forge friendships early on with their housemates and find a familiar face in the dining halls.

4) Students at U Chicago follow a core curriculum, ensuring that students learn how to think critically about issues and questions pertaining to the Humanities, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences, and Civilization. Then, students can choose from 53 majors and 59 minors to complement their core curriculum. In 2019-2020 the Bachelor's degrees conferred with the highest numbers of students included Econometrics and Quantitative Economics, Biology/Biological Sciences, Mathematics, and Public Policy Analysis.

5) University Chicago is known for its Gothic architecture. Hutchinson Commons is modeled after Oxford University's Christ Church, and is used today as a dining hall and lounge. Speaking of dining, every Wednesday students can get $1 milkshakes - last Wednesday's flavor was strawberry! This is one of several traditions on campus.

Did you know that University of Chicago was among the first highly selective institutions to move to test-optional admissions? This change in admissions policy was announced in June 2018 and they never went back to requiring standardized tests for admission.

Last week, U Chicago announced that all students will be required to be vaccinated for fall quarter. Learn about opportunities to visit campus here.

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