The University of Chicago is an urban research university located in Hyde Park. It is currently ranked #6 in the U.S. News and World Report ranking of National Universities (tied with Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania). Founded in 1890, UChicago is a private institution within a city setting and has 6,286 undergraduate students and 10,159 graduate and professional students enrolled. UChicago is known for its rigorous academic programs and has produced over 90 Nobel Prize winners. Students can choose between 52 majors and 45 minors, which are offered across the five collegiate divisions: Biological Science Collegiate Division, Humanities Collegiate Division, New Collegiate Division, Physical Sciences Collegiate Division, and Social Sciences Collegiate Division. The University of Chicago College curriculum includes general education requirements within these divisions that are meant to teach students critical inquiry, argumentation, and analytical thinking.
UChicago’s emphasis on undergraduate research is evidenced by the many research and fellowship opportunities available within each division. The College Center for Research and Fellowships (CCRF) helps students identify scholarly research and nationally competitive fellowships and facilitates connections between faculty and students. Through opportunities like the College Research Fellows Program, students may apply for academic-year research positions with UChicago faculty members. More specialized research opportunities include the Smart Scholars Program, whichsupports undergraduate research at the Smart Museum of Art, in collaboration with curatorial and research staff. During the course of this program, students work on an exhibition, essay, program, or creative work. The College Global Health Research Scholars program, for more STEM-focused students, awards grants to University of Chicago College students who want to study global health issues under the guidance of a faculty member.
UChicago fosters a campus community by housing incoming students in one of seven residence halls. Within these halls are 39 “Houses.” Students live and eat with the members of their house, forge relationships with affiliated faculty, and have the opportunity to compete against each other in large events and intramural sports.
Students enjoy taking part in traditions unique to UChicago and its particular campus culture.“Scav” is the College’s annual scavenger hunt, which lasts for 72-hours and includes hundreds of encrypted clues, and riddles. This also serves as a competition between residence houses. Another tradition, the weeklong festival, “Kuvia”(named after the Inuit word for “pursuit of happiness” and the Japanese tradition of winter training) offers students the chance to embrace winter quarter with yoga, s’mores, sun salutations by the lake, and other energizing activities.
UChicago offers undergraduates a number of study abroad opportunities in 20 countries around the world. These programs are taught by UChicago faculty members to ensure a high quality of rigorous instruction. The Civilization Abroad Programs fulfill a general education requirement in a single quarter and carry no language prerequisite, though students will study a local language. Other programs are more thematic and fulfill major and minor requirements. For instance, the “Athens: Greek Antiquity and Its Legacy” program is perfect for classics majors while the “London: British Literature and Culture” program is better suited for English majors. Other programs focus on topics such as economics, global health, and art history.
Applying to the University of Chicago
To apply to the University of Chicago, you should first create your own UChicago Account. You can then start the Common or Coalition Application (UChicago accepts either).
UChicago officially has a test optional policy.However, they encourage students to still take the SAT or ACT and share their scores. As they note on their website, “Given that many of our peers do require testing, we anticipate that the vast majority of students will continue to take tests and may still submit their test scores to UChicago.”
The University of Chicago offers four applications plans: non-Binding Early Action, two rounds of binding Early Decision, and Regular Decision.
Early Action: This early deadline (November 1) is non-binding plan. Decisions are mailed in mid-December, but admitted students do not have to decide whether or not they will attend until May 1. Applicants will be admitted, denied, or deferred and considered among the regular decision applicants.
Early Decision I: As of the 2016-17 application cycle, UChicago offers two Early Decision application plans. These allow students to apply in advance of the regular deadline as part of a binding agreement that they will attend if accepted. Students who apply in the first ED round must submit their applications by November 1. Applicants are then notified in mid-December and must withdraw all other applications, if accepted, by January 15. By admitting a higher ratio of ED applicants, colleges can increase their yield. Applying ED or EDII, therefore, increases your odds of acceptance as UChicago.
Early Decision II: EDII offers a binding application plan with a later deadline of January 1 (the same as regular decision). Applicants are notified in mid-February and, if accepted must withdraw all other application by March 15.
Regular Decision: The regular decision plan offers the standard non-binding application plan. Students are either admitted, denied, or waitlisted. This plan allows students to compare admissions offers and financial aid packages from multiple colleges.
University of Chicago Essay Questions:
In terms of essays, the University of Chicago famously asks unique, provocative essay questions.
Transfer applicants must submit an additional essay on why they plan to transfer.
Question 1 (Required)
How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago.
Question 2: Extended Essay (Required; Choose one)
Essay Option 1
Cats have nine lives, Pac-Man has 3 lives, and radioactive isotopes have half-lives. How many lives does something else—conceptual or actual—have, and why? —Inspired by Kedrick Shin, Class of 2019
Essay Option 2
If there’s a limited amount of matter in the universe, how can Olive Garden (along with other restaurants and their concepts of food infinity) offer truly unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks? Explain this using any method of analysis you wish—physics, biology, economics, history, theology… the options, as you can tell, are endless. —Inspired by Yoonseo Lee, Class of 2023
Essay Option 3
A hot dog might be a sandwich, and cereal might be a soup, but is a ______ a ______? —Inspired by Arya Muralidharan, Class of 2021 (and dozens of others who, this year and in past years, have submitted the question “Is a hot dog a sandwich,” to which we reply, “maybe”)
Essay Option 4
“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” – Jessamyn West —Inspired by Elizabeth Mansfield, Class of 2020
Essay Option 5
UChicago has international campus centers around the world, but we don’t have any interplanetary, interstellar, or interdimensional campuses… yet! Propose a spot in time or space, in this or any universe, for a new UChicago campus. What types of courses would be taught at this site? What cultural experiences await students who study there? —Inspired by Peter Jasperse, Class of 2022
Essay Option 6
“Don’t be afraid to pick past prompts! I liked some of the ones from previous years more than those made newly available for my year. Also, don’t worry about the ‘correct’ way to interpret a question. If there exists a correct way to interpret the prompt I chose, it certainly was not my answer.” —Matthew Lohrs, Class of 2023
In the spirit of adventurous inquiry (and with the encouragement of one of our current students!) choose one of our past prompts (or create a question of your own). Be original, creative, thought provoking. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun!
UChicago Admissions Wrap Up
This year, the acceptance rate for the Class of 2024 held steady at 6.2 percent (the same as last year). The number of total applicants (34,400) indicates a slight decrease from the 34,648 applications UChicago received last year. The average SAT score for the Class of 2024 was 1518, and the average ACT score was 34. Of all admitted students, 99 percent were in the top 10 percent of their high school class.
Top Tier Admissions Can Help You Get Into University of Chicago:
“I am excited to inform you that I will be attending Northeastern University this fall! I am hoping that they fully reopen the campus as they plan to. Until then, I’m greatly anticipating being a Husky. I could not have done it with you and your team. Thank you very much for helping me with my application. I greatly appreciate it.”–C.K., Application Boot Camp student, Northeastern
"Thank you so much for all your time and work with N over these last few months. N found his experience at Boot Camp to be incredibly helpful and he very much enjoyed meeting you and working with all the Top Tier counselors as well as the other students. The process was educational for N in so many ways- thank you, thank you, thank you!" –M.T., Application Boot Camp parent
"I want to thank you, again, for a fantastic Top Tier Boot Camp experience. As a second time Top Tier family, we drank your Kool Aid fully and completely, and it paid off! You know your stuff; you manage to thread the needle with a mix of tough love and compassion (for both the students and their parents - no small feat) and you run a super-efficient 4-day program." –R.R., Application Boot Camp parent
"I got my acceptance letter over the weekend from Middlebury!! I’m officially a Panther!!! 🙂 Thank you for all of your help; I could not have made it through 1st quarter without ABC!!!" -S.F., Application Boot Camp student
"Dear Michele, I just wanted to let you know that I just got accepted into Dartmouth for ED! I’m overjoyed and incredibly excited to continue my academic journey in New Hampshire. Thank you so much! You were always there to answer so many of my questions and were incredibly supportive of me; I couldn’t have done it without you and the Top Tier team!" –B.S., Application Boot Camp student
"Thank you so much!! He couldn’t have done it without your amazing team!" –H.O., Application Boot Camp parent
"We just got the news! Northwestern Class of 2024! She’s over the moon. This would not have happened without the advice and guidance along the way from all of the folks at Top Tier Admissions! From the advice on how to structure her supplemental info, including how to position her interests and activities relative to her major, the advice to take a college course this summer, and the amazing work that was done during Boot Camp, Top Tier is the absolute best and I know we have you to thank for her acceptance!!! Happy Holidays and thank you from the bottom of my heart!" –P.S., Application Boot Camp parent
"Michele and team - Just wanted to pass along the great news that J got admitted today to Pitzer, her first choice ED school. Thanks for all the amazing support you've provided H and J over the past few years. They both learned a lot from the process and, of course, benefited greatly. We now get to celebrate the holidays with a sigh of relief!" –V.J., Application Boot Camp parent
"J is so thrilled about attending Middlebury College next fall (and we are thrilled for her) and we appreciate all your assistance. It was so exciting for her to get the official acceptance last week. She loved her time at ABC and still keeps in touch with the group of friends she made. Boot Camp was tough, but she thoroughly loved it. She’s a grinder so the intensity and complete immersion didn’t bother her at all. She loved working with all of you and cherishes having another little group of friends that she bonded with in Boston. Don’t fire your caterer - she’s a big fan of the food at Boot Camp." –W.R., Application Boot Camp parent
"B, you helped me with my application during Boot Camp this past summer and I wanted to let you know that I committed to UPenn last night! Thank you so much for helping to transform my supplements into something readable. Boot Camp DEFINITELY helped me get in and made the process a lot less stressful. Thank you so much for all of your help!" –B.A., Application Boot Camp student
"We wanted to thank you for your guidance, counsel and support through T’s application process. Your advice has been instrumental to his success and, more importantly, you gave him the confidence boost he needed to apply early at Princeton. We will continue to recommend Top Tier services to our friends and will always be grateful for what you did. We hope we can stay in touch and wish you a wonderful holiday season." –K.L.T., Application Boot Camp parent
"We are excited to report that B was accepted ED to Duke University and has committed to attend next fall. We’ll forward a picture once our first Duke swag order arrives. Duke was her clear first choice and we are all very happy! We are also very pleased with the assistance we received from all of you at Top Tier and are confident that the guidance we received over the last seventeen months helped B wind up with this great outcome. So, thank you!" –E.R., Application Boot Camp parent
"I am ecstatic to report that I got into my ED school: University of Chicago! Thank you so much for all your help and willingness to work through draft after draft until I got it right." –W.D., Application Boot Camp student
"I am happy to report that we found out this evening that L has been accepted to Boston College! We are SO excited! And for your records, he was also accepted at Villanova and invited to the honors program. Thank you all so much for your help and support! We would have been lost without you!" –M.J., Application Boot Camp student
"I wanted to extend my personal thanks for all your help with my son's application process and essays. Your Bootcamp proved to be well worth the investment and per your advice I stayed away from the temptation of even reading my son's essays until he was accepted. The bottom line is that he was accepted into his top choice of UChicago and in his acceptance letter his essay was specifically mentioned. Furthermore, this was a reach school for him which made the acceptance even more sweet. Your methods and advice were instrumental in his success and I cannot thank you enough for making my son's aspirations real!!" –L.T., Application Boot Camp parent
"I'm not sure if my daughter told you yet, but she was accepted ED to Dartmouth in December. So, two for two with the W sisters-- thanks Top Tier Admissions!" –G.W., Application Boot Camp parent x2
"I wanted to let you know that I got into my first choice, Boston College, early decision. I'm so excited. Thank you all so much for everything, I'm so grateful!" –L.K., Application Boot Camp student
"Thank you to Mimi who wrote my personalized report back in junior year, to the entire team, and definitely to E! My quick acceptance into Cornell owes much to your insights and guidance. Although I have been accepted to Cornell, the process with Top Tier has made me want to stay competitive in college — whether for internships, or for graduate schools later in life. I thank you for that!" –P.O., Application Boot Camp student
"WE MADE IT!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I COULDN'T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU!" –L.J., Application Boot Camp student
“Once again, I am so impressed with your program. I am amazed at the sheer amount B. accomplished in four days! Equally as important, she feels really great about her essays. She loved working with each of you as well as A. (a great pairing for her!). I know how hard each of you worked this week; I hope you get to enjoy some well-deserved R&R!” –N.G., Application Boot Camp parent
"G is excited to go to her first choice, the University of Miami! She continues to say that Application Boot Camp was the best investment we ever made for her education." –R.J., Application Boot Camp parent
"I liked the process of having multiple people read my essays before finalizing a draft. This made me confident that my essays were clear and concise while also captivating to a diverse audience. Everyone was also patient and encouraging. Boot Camp took away so much stress coming into Senior Fall, allowing me to focus on my academics and earning my highest term average ever." –S.A., Application Boot Camp student
"I know first hand how you run your business. Off the charts ethical! We look forward to continuing our relationship with Top Tier's Application Boot Camp."
"Thank you so much for your help and guidance. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you and the Top Tier Admissions Team! I'm still in between UPenn and Georgetown, but I will make sure to visit both." –S.I., Application Boot Camp student
"Clearly, Application Bootcamp and Top Tier took a lot of anxiety out of the whole situation. Our children know a number of kids who did not get into their top choice ED school, only to be devastated and stressed as they are without a plan for ED II and regular decision and have not worked on a range of essays for other schools. So while F & J’s EA-only strategy is not for everyone but made sense for them since they did not have a clear lead school when they were applying, being prepared made all the difference. The help Bootcamp provided in honing their voice and words into essays that reflect their intent was fantastic. In the end, it is all about having choices they are happy with, and I am happy to say they both have those now!" –F.A., parent of Application Boot Camp students
"E., I just wanted to let you know that I got into Barnard Early Decision! Thank you for everything you have done!!! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everything you did for me! Thank You!!" - H.L., Personal Boot Camp student
Barnard, Class of 2023
"I wanted to say thank you again for all your help! I got into UPenn, Cornell, Barnard, Wellesley, Wesleyan, Tufts, University of Michigan, and Wake Forest, and am waiting to hear from Georgetown; I think I'm leaning towards UPenn. Thank you so much for all your guidance; I don't think I could have done it without your help!" --I.R., Application Boot Camp student
"We are thrilled! Duke is absolutely fantastic and is the exact right fit for K. Application Boot Camp definitely helped her get into Duke during their most selective year in history, a year in which they turned away well over 2,000 Valedictorians. Thank you!" -Y.R., parent of ABC student accepted to 9 top-tier colleges
"Boot Camp was the most incredible experience. It made me push myself into thinking about my future and prepared me to send in all my applications. I am so thankful that I got the help I needed at Boot Camp because it made my application process effortless once I had completed my essays. I think that the colleges were able to clearly see my goals and ambitions through the writing of my essays. I believe this helped me have a very successful application process." –P.K., Application Boot Camp student