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University of Chicago Admissions

university chicago admissions

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About the University of Chicago

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, which supports 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 Campus Life

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.

 

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