University of Chicago
On the other side of the city, 7 miles south of The Loop, I visited University of Chicago. The admissions presentation explained that in order to understand the school, you need to know about the 3 Fs: football, fun, and physics :) If you don’t see humor in that joke, this is probably not the school for you. If you laughed, then read on!
• The university is proud of its history as a place of innovation and discoveries in a variety of fields:
- Enrico Fermi created the first sustained nuclear chain reaction at U Chicago as part of the Manhattan Project.
- U Chicago is a founding member of the Big 10 football league, and the lateral pass was first used by U Chicago’s football team. The school now plays D3.
- Improv was officially born at U Chicago at The Revival, and Second City was founded by U Chicago alumni.
• This thread of innovation is driven by the core curriculum, which consists of classes students choose in 8 subject areas. All core classes are discussion-based and capped at 19 students. The goal of the core is to teach students how to solve complex problems, analyze, and defend ideas and solutions to those who disagree with you. Because U Chicago wants students to be invested in the learning they are doing, students can personalize every aspect of the core.
• U Chicago is on the quarter system. Students take 3-4 classes per quarter, three quarters of the year. True to their emphasis on a passion for learning, U Chicago sees the quarter system as a way for students to take fewer classes at a time and delve more deeply into each class.
• They firmly believe there’s not a 1:1 correspondence between a student’s major and career aspirations. They are invested in developing critical thinking and analytic skills that will make students successful in any desired career.
• That’s not to say U Chicago ignores career preparation. They most definitely do not. U Chicago has some of the most robust career advising I've ever encountered!
- Students are assigned two different advisors before even stepping foot on campus - a college advisor who helps with course selection and other academic issues and a career advisor who helps with preprofessional advising and programs as well as networking and internships.
- There are 2000+ Metcalf PAID internships just for U Chicago students.
- The university takes students on treks around the world to explore resources in different fields.
- Combine all that with the U Chicago Careers and interests program, and students have extremely robust career preparation.
• There are more research positions on campus than the number of undergraduates.
• U Chicago has one of the top ten most beautiful college libraries, but it’s now byob: bring your own book :) All books have been moved to the university’s other 11 libraries, and Harper is used for advising. Mansweto Library houses books underground and uses a robotic arm to retrieve them.
• College houses are the social building block of the school. Houses are made up of 40-100 students across all years and majors. Each house is microcosm of university and creates traditions and social events together.
• University theatre is the biggest RSO (Registered Student Organization) on campus. It’s entirely student run and produced, including a challenge where students have 24 hours to write, rehearse, and perform shows.
• The C Shop serves $1 milkshakes on Wednesdays. The C Shop is now run by Einstein’s Bagels, but students persuaded them to keep the $1 milkshake tradition, so it’s the only Einstein’s Bagels in the US that sells milkshakes.
• The biggest event of the year is The Scav, a 4-day, university-wide scavenger hunt with a 33 page list of items that can include things like take a selfie with the world’s largest rubber band ball or go to New Orleans and bring back beignets. What’s the prize for accomplishing these feats and winning? Bragging rights :)
If The Scav sounds like fun to you, check out U Chicago. While there are people who say U Chicago is “where fun goes to die,” students insist “fun lives.”