The University of Chicago, also referred to as UChicago, was founded in 1890 by the American Baptist Education Society and oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. The University was highly esteemed as a model of higher education; innovative and ground-breaking, UChicago successfully combined a traditional English-style undergraduate college with a German-style graduate research institution. Though established by Baptists, the University of Chicago has been strictly non-denominational since its inception and was among the first to encourage and welcome women and minorities into its ranks; the University’s first president, William Harper, actually incorporated a commitment to gender equality into its early charter, which led to an unparalleled dedication to the equitable access of higher education.
One of the most interesting aspects of UChicago’s admission process is the creative essay options; this year’s prompts include:
- silence as a form of speech,
- concepts that cannot be simultaneously known,
- describing a relationship between yourself and an arch-nemesis (real or imagined),
- “So where is Waldo, really?”
The importance the University places on admissions essays also affects the admissions process in other ways. This admission criteria attracts a particular kind of applicant, someone who can stretch their creative limits, explore their imagination, and clearly express the results. Additionally, because the admission essays are particularly demanding, UChicago does not consider your scores in the SAT Writing or ACT Writing composite when making an admission decision.
In terms of admission requirements, UChicago has no set or standardized criteria for admittance. They compare their admissions process to the interpretation of a poem, or to the sundry mechanics of a successfully executed athletic move; to the University’s Admissions Office, every candidate is judged based on their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. This is not to say that anyone can get into UChicago (in fact their acceptance rate is 16%); they rely on what they call “historical trends” to help guide their decisions. This means you won’t be automatically disqualified for having a subpar or less than stellar transcript, but given the University’s tradition of excellence and high quality students you would assuredly have to be capable of ‘wowing’ the Admissions Office in some other way. The 25th – 75th percentile of admitted students’ test scores are- SAT Critical Reading: 700-790, SAT Math: 700-780, and ACT Composite: 31-34.
With more than 50 areas of specialized study, this university offers degree programs for practically any academic interest. You can find a list of the majors, minors, and additional information about UChicago’s different academic programs offered here.
The undergraduate student population at the University of Chicago is approximately 5,300, and the university is known for its small, discussion-style classes. The average annual cost of tuition is $43,780; including all fees and expenses, the annual cost of attendance is approximately $60,000. According to their financial aid FAQ, the University of Chicago has a budget of $93.8 million for student aid in the 2012-2013 academic year, and the average University of Chicago aid applicant receives $37,500 in scholarships each year. In a true demonstration of commitment in the face of financial adversity, “UChicago pledges to meet 100% of demonstrated need for every undergraduate on campus.”
Another reason to consider UChicago is the city itself. Chicago is the third largest city in the United States and has a population of almost three million people. There are many attractions a major metropolitan city like Chicago can provide to an undergraduate. In addition to having one of the most vibrant theater scenes in the nation (the Chicago Symphony is considered one of the best in the world), Chicago is also home to several professional sports teams, and a nearly unrivaled pizza. For more information on the sites and sounds of the city, check out Chicago’s Official Tourism Site.