Chicago FAQ

<p>It may be important to distinguish between two kinds of competition. There's competition for grades, honors, etc. I don't get any sense of that at Chicago at all from my kids -- it's absent from their lives. (Both of them care a little about what grades they get, but it's not something they talk about with others, or even with me unless I force them to.) Then there's trying to say something smarter than the person next to you in your Hum class. I get the sense that there's LOTS of that. You could go to a class and think, "Whoa! Shark tank!", but that's different from grade-grubbing, and not at all inconsistent with cooperating a lot on everything (including classwork) outside of class.</p>

<p>So, there's a lot of people trying to sound smarter than everyone else? This definitely wasn't my impression of the school as I know it.</p>

<p>I think it's less about sounding smarter and more about getting an originalish idea/argument to float.</p>

<p>For me, I'm just aware of my peers. It's not unusual for me to come out of class and think, "Dang, that person really did the readings carefully." I by no means feel uncomfortable about my level of learning/doing the readings though.</p>

<p>I hope everyone at U of C is as intelligent and articulate as you are.</p>


<p>I don't know about intelligent and articulate, but most people here are faster readers and better information-absorbers than me, which makes it harder for me to get the macro argument of a text. If class was all about who synthesized the reading the best on first glance, I'd be toast, but I feel like my in-class contributions kick into gear only when I mull over things for a while. </p>

<p>Learning differences ftw!</p>

<p>I'm such a slow reader. Will that be very detrimental to my success in Chicago? I like to slowly mop up everything in my brain before I go on to something new.</p>

<p>Depends exactly how slow. In high school, I had a lot of reading to do, but it was never too much that I couldn't do all of it (most of my friends didn't do it at all), so when college came around, I had to rethink my ways a little bit. Some slips of advice:</p>

<p>1) The "mop-up" method, I find, works particularly well with literature. The important thing is not what's happening; it's the mechanics that make what's happening happening. That's when ye trusty underlining tool comes in super-handy. (Also, maybe just me, but I find reading literature really fun, even if I can't remember plots for the life of me).</p>

<p>2) Don't expect to understanding heavyweights like Marx and Kant on the first time around. Anybody who takes Self for sosc knows that about 150 pages of Durkheim has the rough exchange value of 20 pages of Marx. The readings on the heavyweights are often shorter to account for their density, and you can't expect yourself to get it on the first round. That's what class discussion is for. And office hours. And the essay.</p>

<p>3) In classes like sociology, political science, etc., where the reading assignments are pages and pages, the articles are usually set up in a very clear structure, allowing for easy skimming. Sociologists and political scientists and the like like to summarize their arguments-- a lot-- in different ways, so following along is not super-hard and not every detail is important if you're just looking for what the argument is, not evidence that supports it. I found that my sociology professor often gave better and clearer lectures on the readings than the readings did of explaining themselves.... so I found readings for that class largely, ahem, optional.</p>

<p>I don't know about how other people feel, but the Core sucks for math majors...Period. Wasting my time with all this Foucault and Aristotle, whose ideas seem like non-rigorous, ********, self-indulged ramblings compared to those of Gauss, Euler, Holder, Dirichlet, Galois, etc. Hum. has improved my writing, though.</p>

<p>I might not like exercising, but I feel better when I do it and I lose weight :-)</p>

<p>I'm bumping this thread, with new questions....</p>

<p>So, unalove, you must be **thrilled that Chicago became so competitive this year, rejecting almost 75% of its applicants!*</p>

<p>Actually, I'm pretty close to tears right now (me, who went through this nutty process years ago) and I'm also pretty close to tearing off my U of C sweatshirt. I'm really upset to see so many awesome people post on the U of C boards so often, demonstrate their wit, insight, and interest in becoming my classmate, and then I see them get waitlisted or rejected. I want to stage a one-woman riot at Rosenwald Hall tomorrow morning, but I'm sure that if I were allowed access to the super-secret files, I would find very few people I couldn't find in some way awesome.</p>

<p>I'm happy for the lot of you that have other very awesome schools in your future, welcoming you with open arms. The college admissions process is not over yet, and really, the fun has only got started. You might find yourself at your reach-- or your safety-- and you might love it or hate it for reasons unforeseen. Just promise yourself to keep an open mind and promise yourself to be good to yourself. Don't let college rejection be a blow to your self-esteem. Or you can do a Hemingway, and use the rejection letter as wallpaper, and later on in life, when you're a happy, successful person, you will scoff at the fact that you ever even cared about what some admissions officers thought about you.</p>

<p>*When should I visit?</p>

<p>Not during the spring program, if you can help it. Visit when you can get a real taste of the U of C, not when you're surrounded by hundreds of students who don't even go here and are being wined and dined by admissions.</p>

<p>**Would there happen to be a really cute cafe that serves homemade gelato and deliriously good coffee? *</p>

<p>Check out Istria Cafe-- on 57th street and "the tracks." Basically, orient yourself on the quads so that you are facing the big ugly monstrosity of a library head-on, and turn right. Keep on walking. Keep on walking. You'll also pass 57th street Books, Edwardo's Pizza, the Medici, and other worthwhile establishments. Istria is a few blocks further, across from Powell's and under the tracks. Tell them you're from out-of-town and you got the recommendation from a website-- you might score a free gelato.</p>

<p>*What's the GLBT scene like?</p>

<p>It's solid. I won't pretend there isn't infighting (G's versus T's, T's versus B's, G's versus G's) but that sort of infighting is widespread across the queer community, as definitions of gender and sexuality and common perception of them keep changing. You will find GLBT-focused support (do seek it out!) but, more importantly, you'll get validation from your peers, not because you belong to a certain subset of people but because you are who you are. Check out 5710 South Woodlawn-- it's a house for the GLBTQ community and minority students. </p>

<p>*What's the on-campus experience like for underrepresented minorities?</p>

<p>It's also solid, with room for improvement. You will probably also find a lot of respect and validation coming from your peers because of who you are and how you think, but you may feel part of a small group, particularly if you're coming from a high school that is primarily under-represented minorities. The University just re-opened in Multicultural Student Affairs office on 5710 South Woodlawn, and it's a great building with lounges and spaces for events, speakers, etc.</p>

<li>What are mental health services like?</li>

<p>The people who work at SCRS are really nice, and they're interested not only in counseling (they do short-term counseling and referrals out for long-term) but also support groups and such.</p>

<p>Student</a> Counseling & Resource Service at the University of Chicago</p>

<li>*Is the Ratner Gym/Henry Crown open crazy long hours to accommodate the insomniac fitness enthusiast in me? *</li>

<p>Ratner's open 6am-midnight most nights, and Henry Crown might have slightly shorter hours. </p>

<p>University</a> of Chicago Athletic Facilities Hours of Operation</p>

<li>How do the dining halls work?</li>

<p>Each dining hall has a dorm assigned to it. The breakdown:</p>

<p>Max P, Snell-Hitchcock, Blackstone, Stony Island: Bartlett
Shoreland floors 2-7, Burton-Judson, Breckinridge: Burton-Judson
Shoreland 8-12, Maclean, Pierce: Maclean</p>

<p>Bartlett is a la carte and the "best" dining hall; BJ and Pierce are one swipe all-you-can-eat madness. Your first year, you will be allocated primarily Bartlett dollars or meal points with a little bit of wiggle room for the other dining halls; your second year, you have some variability in your meal plan. Bartlett is the best dining hall if you keep Kosher.</p>

<p>I know it sounds a bit weird to be told to eat at a certain dining hall, but all of the dining halls are centrally located and a walk to one is as easy as a walk to another.</p>

<p>*What's O-Week like?</p>

<p>A lot of fun and a lot of stress, only you'll be stressing about silly things, like placement tests and gym tests. There are three required seminars, a meeting or two with your advisor, but other than that this is your time to have fun, meet people, go to parties, and explore Chicago. Just careful on the party bit-- O-Week is supposed to be a dry week and the upperclassmen O-Leaders may not point you in the direction of parties, but there are many around. If you're concerned about having fun and meeting your crowd, start getting to know the upperclassmen who come back to campus early for the express purpose of getting you drunk.</p>

<p>I should also add that it's very easy to stay dry during O-Week, as parties in the dorms are a BIG no-no during O-Week.</p>

<li>If I splurge on one decorating accessory for my dorm room, what should it be?</li>

<p>A lamp.</p>

<li>Which on-campus coffee shop serves the best coffee?</li>

<p>Div school coffee shop, no question about it.</p>

<p>You can also check out Classics Cafe (second floor classics), Cobb Coffee shop (basement of Cobb), Gargoyle Cafe (basement of Stuart-- that's where you'll see all of the future world leaders and current econ students), C-Shop (Reynolds Club), Hallowed Grounds (second floor Reynolds Club), and, if you're a noob who likes pricey coffee, the Starbucks at the University of Chicago "bookstore" on 58th and Ellis.</p>

Thank you for your posts...they have been a nice diversion during the long wait, which just got longer for my DD (and the rest of us that were rooting for her acceptance).</p>

<p>Thank you for all these posts!
I have to ask specifically how well I could live as a freshman with my current vegan diet and if any special services are offered to LGBTQ students beyond the basic support from the primary center.</p>

<p>And with that inspiration, I'll continue asking myself questions:</p>

<li>I'm on the waitlist. What, in your uninformed opinion, would you do if you were me?</li>

<p>1) Make sure that Chicago REALLY is worth pursuing before you start pursuing them like crazy. If you get into one of our friends and think you might like our friend better than us, it's kind of stinky to go back to your adcom and write a sob story... only to turn us down for another neat school in Evanston or Baltimore or Ithaca or St. Louis. It wouldn't be illegal, it would just be vastly uncool.</p>

<p>2) Speaking of sob stories... hold them. Send an e-mail to your adcom using the "less is more" mantra like whoa. Restate your interest in the school as passionately AND succinctly as possible. Ask if there is anything they might like to see from you to help them make decisions. Don't get discouraged if you don't get the response you're looking for-- this time of year there is enormous rubberbanding... first priority is the admitted students, second priority is seeing those deposits come in from admits, third priority is waitlisters.</p>

<p>3) If you know a U of C student, alum, or professor, see if they can write a letter for you. (Sorry, I don't count). Or see if one of your teachers or guidance counselors can write a "Shame on you, Chicago!" letter. If you come from a hoity-toity school, a letter or a phone call from your GC might have extra pull. It's in Chicago's interest to be diplomatic and play nice with guidance counselors.</p>


<p>The dining halls have good vegan options-- not marvelous, but the salad bar at BJ and Bartlett is consistent win (I've never been to Pierce). Some of the coffee shops (Cobb, Div School, etc.) have good vegetarian/vegan food.</p>

<p>Probably the best thing to do is become bff with the dining hall staff. This is not difficult at all, and even easier if you've taken Spanish and can speak enough of it to sustain a line or two of conversation. A smile and a hello here, a nod there, and a mention of your dietary restrictions, and you'll have the dining hall staff pointing you to food and explaning the colored handles. The staff is technically supposed to label food as vegan, etc.... but sometimes they get a little sloppy. This is why it also helps to know them, as you'll get an answer rather than a shrug.</p>

<p>We have our own fruit/veggie market, Hyde Park Produce, and it is amazing. HPP should be everybody's best friend. Chicagoist:</a> Hyde Park Produce: A South Side Grocery Paradise</p>

<li>Extra LGBTQ support?</li>

<p>Check out: LGTBQ</a> Resources at the University of Chicago as a sort of homepage. There's a mentoring program, Q&A (basically a GSA), and a lot of social events.... a lot. Kathy Forde, who is a primary contact on the website and the LGBTQ-focused college adviser, is a verifiable rockstar.</p>

<p>^^ I'm going to amend my waitlist suggestion.</p>

<p>Send an e-mail to your counselor if you're interested in staying on the waitlist, but don't pull the "Chicago is my first choice and I'll go if I get off of it" card unless you are SURE.</p>

<p>More questions....</p>

<li>Mac or PC?</li>

<p>I'm very happy with my PC (Sony Vaio laptop model SZ330P). It's comparable to the MacBook sizewise and pricewise, but it's about a pound lighter, which means I can sort of drop it in my bag and bring it into the lounge no problem.</p>

<p>MacBooks reign supreme here, and I suggest getting one, unless you clearly prefer another computer. Since a lot of students have MacBooks, you can commiserate if your computer isn't working properly. There's a Mac store on Michigan Ave (Magnificent Mile) if you run into any problems with it.</p>

<li>Cell phone service?</li>

<p>I have Verizon and I'm moderately happy with it. U.S. Cellular owns Chicago (consider the field that the White Sox play in) and there's a store in Hyde Park.</p>

<li>How do you get downtown? How long does it take to get there?</li>

<p>Traveling to the loop will take you about 15 minutes-- you have your choice of the Metra train, the 6 bus, the 10 bus (my favorite bus of all time, because it's designed for tourists as a shuttle between the Museum of Science and Industry and the Water Tower), the 2 and 173 buses (commuter buses), the Red Line, and the Green Line. Depending on where you are going, you will use different routes. The Red line is the primary north/south artery, though, and pretty much everything is accessible from there. Getting to, say, Lakeview (where Wrigley Field is and where a lot of neat restaurants are) takes about 45 minutes.</p>

<li>What are your favorite cheap restuarants?</li>

<p>I have lots. My top three favorite restaurants--ever-- that are pretty reasonable are Lao Sze Chuan in Chinatown, the Athena in Greektown, and The Pasta Bowl in Lincoln Park. There are other gems, total holes in the wall-- Flash Taco in Wicker Park, the Tank off the Argyle stop, etc.</p>

<p>If you want to do dinner in style, Quartino, Bandera, and Grand Lux Cafe are all great, and all in the Loop-ish.</p>

<li>*What are the most common issues and problems that first-years at Chicago run into? *</li>

<p>I've been around the block a bit in terms of working with first years, and here are the most common issues I see in the first few weeks of school.</p>

<p>1) People don't feel like they've found "their group." I have to remind people that the first year of college is, in many ways, like the first year of high school, and you're the new kid all over again. In the first few weeks, students tend to divide themselves according to social habits, because that's what's most convenient-- i.e., people who like to party a lot become friends with people who like to party a lot, people who rather sit in and watch a movie become friends with other people who like to sit in and watch a movie. These initial groups tend to break down a little bit after a month or so, as it takes about that long to realize that you get along well with the kids in your lab section, etc.</p>

<p>Some students also find that Chicago is a lot different socially from their high school. Chicago is going to be different from your high school, exactly in what ways, I can't say. You will find people, though, who like the same things as you like. On any given weekend night in my house, there are people drinking, people playing video games, people downtown, and people watching Enchanted at Doc.</p>

<p>2) People have to weather their first non-A grade, or a prof who seems pretensious/unfuzzy. I would again suggest that people not take their grades as a measure of their self-worth, understand that their prof, even with the non-A grade, probably liked the paper a lot (and explained so in the comments). It's up to students to follow up with the prof.... office hours, rewrites, tutors, etc. Core WILL teach you how to read and it WILL teach you how to write, but you have to be patient with yourself and not demand the utmost.</p>

<p>3) People have roommate/hallmate issues. RA's and RH's can be good at helping solve these issues. Living with other people is lots of fun-- every night at college is a sleepover. Sometimes it's not, like when your hallmate decides that it's appropriate to play electric guitar at 3am.</p>

<p>4) People realize that what they thought was their major isn't working out. A lot of students who initially start out the pre-med track lose heart and don't finish.... this happens at every school. I would say don't force yourself to take classes for a major just because... let yourself explore. You don't have to go to med school. There are only hundreds of thousands of other career opportunities.</p>

<li>What are some popular on-campus jobs?</li>

<p>Check out and read bulletin boards. I have friends who have scored cushy jobs in such places like the Center for Research Libraries (not affiliated with the U of C, but blocks from campus), the Court Theater, the Smart Museum, the Oriental Institute.</p>

<p>The Decision Research Lab at the Graduate School of Business alllllways needs undergraduate peons to help carry out (and do) studies.</p>

<p>Neighborhood Schools Program ( will pay you to work in a school.</p>

<li>What sort of pre-professional programs does Chicago offer?</li>

<p>We have a new program called Chicago Careers in Business, that's a joint venture with the undergrad and the GSB. I don't really get what it's all about, but if business is your thing, this program is designed to help you launch yourself. There's a similar program with the med school. If you are interested in either program, PM me and I'll give you a contact.</p>

<li>What's career advising like?</li>


<p>CAPS offers a lot of neat services, you just have to be proactive about using them. You can get resume-writing help (and how!), go to career fairs, get mock interviews in, use their career database. Poster CesareBorgia has pointed out that CAPS's pull in the ubercompetitive business sector isn't where it could be, but I think that might have more to do with the undergrads themselves rather than career services. My impression is that business requires a combination of academic and natural suaveness, and, according to a Chicago alum who works at Goldman Sachs, Chicago candidates tend to be extremely academically qualified, but not as polished. (This seems to make sense: my i-banker friends have a certain charm to them). As the composition of Chicago undergrads changes over the years, I imagine that more students who want to pursue high-end business careers will be able to. In any way, the Chicago degree is certainly recognized among top firms.</p>

<p>For those of us who aren't interested in high-end business, CAPS is great at suggesting other potential careers.</p>

<li>What do Chicago kids do immediately after graduation?</li>

<p>A lot go on to grad school, grad school of all sorts. (PhD, MPP, JD, MD, you name it). My friends have all really done well in grad school admissions. Some are taking a year off before grad school to travel. One of my friends is doing Teach For America, another is doing Peace Corps, another is going into consulting, another into publishing.</p>

<li>So I got into Chicago, and I'm all excited about it, but I still don't know if it's the <em>right</em> place for me. Any help with this one?</li>

<p>If nothing else, there are two stereotypes about Chicago that are carried out to the extreme. They are:</p>

<p>1) Everybody is a nerd.
2) Nobody likes to have fun.</p>

<p>I think we are a nerdier and less-hard-partying school relative to the Ivies as a whole, but I don't think that's saying much. You'll find a lot of kids here who don't put much thought into the way they are dressed, and a lot of kids with a sort of "If you don't like me, that's not my problem" attitude, which can be annoying, but also refreshing. (I only know one person who carries that attitude out to the extreme, and he's graduating this year). This is a kind of place where people can talk about academics any time, anywhere. That's not to say that they do. But you may find yourself discussing your sosc readings when you're totally sozzled after a game of beer pong.</p>

<p>Social life here is toned-down. As is, I think there are plenty of opportunities for parties, and there would probably be even more if I lived in a more social dorm. There's a big difference between a non-existent social life and a toned-down one... the people looking to party will find them. As my schedule and my workload stands, I could party 3 nights a week if I wanted to, which is what kids at "social" schools brag about doing. I choose not to party 3 nights a week, but the fact that I could and that I have the time says a lot about how social Chicago is or can be, even when it is giving your brain a workout. My impression is not that Chicago kids don't have enough time to socialize, but rather that not all of them want to go and party with every social opportunity they have. </p>

<p>I think these issues have also been addressed sufficiently on this forum.... but I'm willing to expand if there are more specific questions.</p>

<p>That said, I still think Chicago has a "fit" and a "feel" to it. The best way to determine exactly what this feel and fit is is to visit campus for yourself. If you can't, I think you're a good fit if you're willing to work hard in college, like the idea of the Core curriculum, and are willing to make adjustments to your high school routine. If you want to party and socialize a lot, maintain a deep EC commitment, AND do super-well in school, something will have to give. This school's emphasis is, after all, on academics, and it's the academic community that really shines and is central, and it's why people end up coming here.</p>