The College's Next Steps?

<p>From early information, the college has done the "easy" part of the process - the school began playing the "big numbers" admissions game, became more rankings-conscious, and rose about as high as it can in the rankings. The accept rate is virtually in line with most of its peers (a little improvement here may be possible), and all external signs point to continued success for the U of C.</p>

<p>Now, comes the "hard" part - the decade-or-longer push to improve student life on campus and to create the amenities and resources that Chicago's peers have boasted for decades. Where are some areas where the school needs to improve? Here are some of my thoughts:</p>

<p>Extracurricular Activities</p>

<p>This is where Chicago really trails its peers. For example, while smaller schools (such as Dartmouth) have, say, daily newspapers, Chicago still lags here. The Maroon only comes out twice a week, which is pretty poor for a school of Chicago's size.</p>

<p>Also, I'm still not sure what the "signature" extra-curricular activities on campus are. Other schools have some "signature" groups (Yale has the Whiffenpoofs, Harvard's glee club and hasty pudding club are quite prominent, etc.).</p>

<p>Chicago has a wide array of student clubs and activities (university theater was quite popular when I attended), off-off campus was a fun comedy troupe, etc., but I've found the general vibe at Chicago to be quite understated for this. A few clubs (like mock trial and model un) are known for being intense but, for the most part, I'm not sure what clubs at Chicago (outside of the academic ones like quiz bowl), really have that "signature" feel. </p>

<p>The academic clubs tend to be great, but I'd love to see some of the other clubs at Chicago really take off to that next level - where they really gain some acclaim and notoriety.</p>

<p>Student Advising and Pre-Professional Advising</p>

<p>Again, Chicago has less tradition in being a feeder for traditional power professions (med, biz, etc.) than its peers. Consequently, there are still some question marks about how heavily chicago undergrads are recruited, how well they do in placement at top professional schools, etc. The advising needs to be strong, and there needs to be more transparency about this. Chicago's numbers should certainly mirror its immediate peers when it comes to placement, and UChicago should care more about these sorts of metrics. </p>

<p> Sports Matter </p>

<p>When I was at U of C, sure playing a sport was nice, but most big high schools gained a lot more press for their sports. No one cared if a team was winning or losing, and being an athlete was a nice little extra curricular. </p>

<p>Chicago's teams need to be held more accountable, and coaches need to know that constant losing won't be tolerated. Results matter, and the coaches need to develop a culture of winning that should percolate through the teams and community. Chicago has the resources and size of many D1 schools, so there is no reason it can't approach dominance on the D3 scene. </p>

<p>Increased College Programming</p>

<p>The school has gotten better about this, and needs to continue. Axelrod's new politics center is a great start, but other centers and institutes need to emerge - from endeavors in science to business, law, arts, and more. The school needs to bring more speakers to campus, and also have college-specific speakers - not just speakers who give a talk at the International House. </p>

<p>Any other ideas?</p>

<p>In the 20th century, Chicago was known for espousing a life of the mind, and in being a "teacher of teachers." </p>

<p>Rather than just be an incubator for academics, in the 21st century, I hope Chicago begins to prepare doers - as well as thinkers - to go out into the world. The former niche has been served, and an "excellence, across all pursuits" mantra should be adopted.</p>

<p>How is it doing on various aspect of "internationalization"?</p>

<ol>
<li><p>How is U Chicago WRT international students? I think it's lagging behind. Time to dispatch recruiters to China (I say this only in half jest). U Chicago is VERY well known internationally among professional/academic class and get consistently VERY high ranking on this merit on various international ranking scales. However, I don't think it's on the same ball park when it comes to the general pool of international students looking to come to USA to get the top brand elite education.</p></li>
<li><p>I think study abroad program of U Chicago is somewhat not very glamorous. Very limited choice for the kind school U Chicago is, at least that was the impression when my S was thinking about it for a while (he decided not to do it - for a different reason).</p></li>
</ol>

<p>I think the key is to emerge as a "full service" academic institution, not just for the life of mind zealots. I am all FOR this life of the mind mantra (that's why I let my son to be a full pay at U Chicago when he had a full ride option somewhere else), but it should be the general culture of the school that guides the campus life and gives it its distinction, NOT the filter that will "weed out" students who do not fit into this narrow mode. I think U Chicago is also branching out of it: so I am not saying that they are not moving in this direction - I am just encouraging them. Most the things Cue7 said fall into this category. </p>

<p>Should I say, U Chicago should be more "secularized"? (if you know what I mean - wink: getting out of the academic cloister to the rest of the wider world, this is what I mean).</p>

<p>By the way, in terms of getting out of the academic cloister, I cannot think of a better example than what Axlerod is planning to do. I hope there are more of that kind. U Chicago can really step up to the regional center of political discourse with direct access to the political power elites. Can U Chicago attract some amazing speakers to the graduation? Will Obama do it for his hometown school? (OK. Chicago is not where he grew up, but by now, his "hometown" for all practical purposes... I WOULD LOVE TO SEE Obama giving a commencement speech for the class of 2013 - my son'e year).</p>

<p>Just a note on hyeonjlee's comment on China -- Dean Boyer, Allen Sanderson (Econ. prof) and a few others are actually in China right now. Not so much as recruiters, but just spreading awareness of the school.</p>

<p>Hyeonjlee - I actually think Chicago does a pretty good job with international students - about 10% of each class is international.</p>

<p>Some other thoughts:</p>

<ul>
<li><p>More diversity efforts - Chicago's not bad on this front, but it can certainly do better.</p></li>
<li><p>Increased outreach with the city of chicago (maybe by opening a center downtown?). Chicago needs increased visibility in the city of chicago.</p></li>
<li><p>Much stronger emphasis on "campus-wide" traditions. Right now, the current campus traditions - like scav hunt - tend to be too divisive. Some people love it, some people hate it. Contrast this to events like Spring Fling at Penn, or Slope Day at Cornell. UChicago should work hard to create campus traditions that everyone would enjoy. An idea I had would be to have an "all-class" day (maybe in May or June?) where the school brings in a brand-name comedian, followed by a dinner or something like that. I'm pretty sure most students would come to a free outdoor speech by Stephen Colbert or John Stewart. Chicago needs at least a few events like this - something that unifies a great bulk of the student body.</p></li>
</ul>

<p>
[quote]
I actually think Chicago does a pretty good job with international students - about 10% of each class is international.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Absolutely, unequivocally false. As an international student, I have to say UChicago is doing an awful job with international students. All of the international students are exceptionally wealthy. Economic diversity is almost non-existent. UChicago does not even treat Canadians and Mexicans in the same pool as U.S. Citizens (something that Cornell, Penn, and Columbia do). UChicago needs to increase its financial aid for international students... above $0.</p>

<p>DivineComedy</p>

<p>Interesting - I always thought this was the case at most schools, as financial aid doesn't apply to international students. So, schools tend to like international students who can pay the full bill.</p>

<p>I'd be surprised if the international student body at Cornell, Columbia, etc. was that different than the one at Chicago. From what I know, only wealthy internationals seem to have access. </p>

<p>Again, I don't know much about this and I could be wrong, but I think most internationals at these schools tend to be quite wealthy. </p>

<p>When I said Chicago does a good job with internationals, I more meant that in terms of % of student body, Chicago mirrors its peers.</p>

<p>Cue7-</p>

<p>I appreciate the candid thoughts in this thread. I don't know your background, but as a recent alum who is still connected to the school and current students from alumni volunteering, let me share my (possible rose-colored) thoughts:</p>

<p>First thing-campus traditions- Blues N' Ribs, Fall Formal, Mardi Gras, International Food Day, Folk Festival, Kuvia, MAB concerts, Summer Breeze, some big big frat parties would all be considered campus-wide events. I think it's more our culture not to hyper-celebrate with booze, but it's not like these events aren't popular.</p>

<p>Second- students ARE taking advantage of career services, whether these services and placement results are comparable with other schools I don't know. I do know a lot of recent alumni doing fairly high-profile work, and I do know that CAPS is seeing inputs of increased student awareness and increased outputs of job offers. Check out: caps</a> – The Chicago Maroon</p>

<p>Third-Sports- here's where I feel that D3 ethos is and should be different from D1. If we're competitive in D3 (which we are, usually), we're competitive in D3. It's exciting, but it's not and will never be Big Ten. We're not going to get airtime on major networks. Instead, we graduate student-athletes who go on to win the Pulitzer Prize and do graduate work in biochemistry. </p>

<p>Fourth- Extracurriculars- as the College has become more selective, it has had an opportunity to slice students who are less desirable extracurricularly and yield students who are more desirable extracurricularly. I don't know that they have chosen to go down this path (I assume they have, to some extent.) If nothing else, the Logan Arts Center isn't going to stay empty and the College needs students to be interested in following all these new initiatives.</p>

<p>I think there's a broader conversation here: how can the University of Chicago be the best University of Chicago it can be? I agree that it should look to other schools for best practices, but to walk in another institutions shadows is beneath what the school has to offer. And certainly it can't be all things to all people, and it can't be good at everything.</p>

<p>From my perspective (my university affiliation goes back to 2001), I think the most promising changes I've seen have been in the way some subtle tweaks to marketing and self-image have helped out a ton. This is not a makeover of UofC; rather, it's a new pair of glasses and an updo. In other words, I think the University has been able to take the introverted nerd image and make it fun, accessible, and cool, in an endearing way. I look at the UChicago Admissions Tumblr and the "Overheard at UChicago" facebook group and I see this sensibility in action.</p>

<p>As far as what I would want to change-</p>

<p>-- too many cars allowed on the edge of the quads. I'd close off Ellis and University to all traffic and expand the greenspace if I could. I'd also put dorms RIGHT on the quads instead of near them.</p>

<p>-- Luxury retail in Hyde Park, but it looks like AKIRA is taking care of that one.</p>

<p>-- An opportunity to never have the following conversation again, ever, with native Chicagoans:
Native Chicagoan: "You went to UofC? You mean the one on the South Side?"
Me: "Yes."
Native Chicagoan: "You mean you lived on the South Side?"
Me: "And I stayed there for three years after I graduated."
<em>Native Chicagoan looks at me in awe.</em> "But there's crime on the South Side."
Me: "There's also crime on the North Side, the West Side, the Northwest Side, the Loop, and even in the suburbs. The scariest thing I ever saw was a sixteen year-old kid driving his Dad's BMW coupe."</p>

<p>
[quote]
Absolutely, unequivocally false. As an international student, I have to say UChicago is doing an awful job with international students. All of the international students are exceptionally wealthy. Economic diversity is almost non-existent. UChicago does not even treat Canadians and Mexicans in the same pool as U.S. Citizens

[/quote]

From <a href="https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/apply/applicants/firstyear/%5B/url%5D"&gt;https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/apply/applicants/firstyear/&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>The University of Chicago's consideration of applications for admission is need blind for citizens of the U.S. and Canada as well as U.S. permanent residents. Canadian citizens should follow the directions for appying for international aid found on the International Aid website. Your application for need-based financial aid will have no bearing on your application for admission to the College.</p>

<p>The University of Chicago will meet a student's demonstrated need throughout their four years in the College.</p>

<p>^ </p>

<p>Divine Comedy was talking about international students in campus. UChicago gave only 63 undergraduate internationals financial aid (from US News and World Report) which roughly translates to only 15-16 international students per year. This is very low when you compare with number of internationals receiving aid at Dartmouth, Cornell and Brown.</p>

<p>Even though I have no statistical evidence to back this up but I suspect UChicago's yield for international students is lower compared to its peers. Many international students who do get into UChicago with aid also get into places like HYPMS and chose to go into those schools.</p>