I want to share 4 years’ worth of observations about a very special group at the University of Chicago. My reason for using the Seal analogy (besides fact that a couple of the young men are applying to become Seals) is that the group I am writing about is a small minority at University of Chicago–just as the Seals are relative to the larger US Navy community. I would hope this post informs applicants and incoming students & families about a “lane” that exists at the University of Chicago for new students with similar interests.
This group’s overall makeup approximates the following:
- · About 25 of them in the senior class.
- · All with GPA’s around 3.5, many at 3.7, and several near 4.0.
- · Many graduated in less than 4 years.
- · Vastly diverse socio economic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds.
- · Hailing from every region of the USA.
- · This group arrived at University of Chicago more likely to have worked high school breaks at Home Depot vs. an internship at the Aspen Institute.
- · Nearly every one of them began as a student athlete; 95% of them earned varsity letters, most achieved academic all-conference awards, and several became varsity captains.
- · They are mostly economics majors; they recognized early on that this University of Chicago department is regarded by many as the world’s best.
- · Several pursuing medical school and law school.
- · The ones pursuing finance careers achieved a 100% success rate at the top investment banking, private equity, and hedge funds in the world.
- · Not one pursued a career in consulting despite McKinsey being a University of Chicago alumni.
- · A few developed relationships with female classmates that are like minded and which may produce future marriages; we would not be surprised to see these young men eventually standing as groomsman in at least a half dozen of their fraternity brothers’ weddings.
Intellectually, this is a group that literally soaked up the University of Chicago’s spirit of Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman, and the Federalist Society’s legal influence. They consume a daily diet of modern-day intellectual podcasts—Ben Shapiro and Dinesh Dsouza being mainstays. They are deeply into the crypto community following the Winklevoss twins, Michael Saylor, and Raoul Pal regularly and they are substantial participants in the “Reddit Trading” community. This groups studies, reads, and debates with intensity. They don’t often find students with different views willing to engage in robust economic and political debate; when they have I have observed how they politely engage in discourse.
All of these young men have dear friends on teams at peer schools like MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and Columbia. It is noteworthy that they all report that their friends have not found “as robust a lane” of likeminded intellectuals at peer schools; many of them say their friends all wish they could have been part of this group at University of Chicago.
I have also been highly impressed by the teamwork this group exhibited; they essentially have a 180 degree opposite of a cutthroat culture. When some members experienced challenges that life deals they sacrificed time and effort to support their fraternity brothers. On the job front, when the most coveted positions required extensive networking, preparation, and due diligence to procure and prepare for an interview this group decided to share their materials so as to help one another.
I suspect that if J.D. Vance had chosen University of Chicago, and became a member of this house, we may never have been enlightened by this author’s Hillbilly Elegy masterpiece.
This collection of young men expanded their intellects by challenging each with the “iron sharpens iron” approach to improvement.
As the University of Chicago makes a concerted effort to build upon recruiting success with students from Texas and students with past military experience it is clear to me that this lane will continue to grow and evolve. For sure—this lane is not for everyone. But the fact that it may not even exist at some of the peer schools leads me to believe its availability may become yet another special attribute which the University of Chicago can use to compete for the very finest students with multiple options at the peer schools above.