UChicago vs. Wash U help!

I’ve been accepted both places as of now, and the only real competitor to the two will be Barnard if I get in. I want to study linguistics and minor in Korean, as well as be active in acapella and maybe theater. I also am looking for good community service opportunities! As far as vibe, I love the quirkiness of UChicago (though I heard it may not really exist), but I love the relaxed less-stressful vibe of WashU. The house system of UChicago is also really interesting to me as well as the core, but WashU’s housing and food is unrivaled. Money is not an issue by the way. I’m going to go back and visit both in April, but right now I’m really torn :confused:

Note that WashU’s optional “Text and Tradition” sequence will cover some of the same “history of ideas” territory as Chicago’s mandatory core.

Housing and food, IMO, are not good reasons to pick one school over another. Yes, 4 years may seem like a long time to you know, but trust me, when you’re 30 (and definitely when you’re 40) you’ll barely be able to recall how good/bad the food was in college (and in any case, Chicago is a great city for food; no one says you have to eat from a cafeteria all 4 years). Meanwhile, your education and friendships formed likely will still be paying dividends.

Remember, you’re going for an education, not summer camp.

I dunno, I disagree with @PurpleTitan. Sure, you’re selecting a college and not a summer camp. But if you are comparing two equally good universities and trying to make a decision when they’re already close in the running, I think making a decision on things like food, housing, and weather are perfectly acceptable. I feel like if you get to that point, you have already decided that their academics and extracurricular offerings are pretty similar and now you are singling out experience things that will change your experience of college. After all, you will be living there for four years.

Also, I am nearly 30 and I definitely remember the quality of the food (meh) and the residence halls (not great) at my alma mater, lol.

But with that said, OP, I think that this is really going to be a personal decision. People here will give you all kinds of Reasons why you should do this or that, but their reasons are going to be based on their own personal evaluation compared against their own personality. For example, I would select Wash U over UChicago personally. But that’s because I would prefer the relaxed/laid-back, slightly preppy vibe of Wash U over the competitive, nerdy-quirky vibe of Chicago. (I also don’t like the city of Chicago, and I don’t like the cold - St. Louis has slightly milder weather). Other people might prefer Chicago, or argue that it has better name recognition, or have had a personally negative experience with WUSTL and so may prefer UChicago. shrug

I think you will have a better idea after you revisit them in April.

@juillet‌ I agree with you. My issue comes from just how similar the schools are academically. I like Chicago and have a lot of familiy there so it makes it even harder lol . Hopefully visiting back to back will help!

Definitely visit first. Right now, what you’re saying about food and dorms (and even vibe) is based off of hearsay.

Also, similarity is in the eye of the beholder. I would say to not go off of USNews rankings, though, which are gameable.

@PurpleTitan‌ i visited Wash U in January and UChicago last may. Yeah I know rankings are pretty sketch (both if my parents work at universities). I’ve been reading college prowler a lot and I’m gonna meet with some profs at UChicago

I believe there is a big a cappella festival or competition held a U Chicago every year - I sing a cappella so it caught my ear! We didn’t visit Wash U but loved U Chicago’s tour - the only one that stressed the love of learning - really resonated with us.

Additionally, if you are female you can sing with the 7 time international winner Melodeers chorus - located in the suburbs of Chicago - we have people commuting 5 hours each way to rehearse with us on a weekly basis.

@singermom4‌ that sounds awesome! I love choir in high school!

Just to let you know the a capella regionals or semiquarters (not exactly sure what it’s called) are held at WashU each year- UChicago is one of the schools that sends competitors each year. Both schools have pretty strong a capella cultures (I don’t know the Chicago numbers but WashU has about 13 or 14 groups, including a Disney only one).

This event was at UChicago recently https://www.freshtix.com/events/icca-midwest-qf-chicago-2015 and I recall the guide mentioning something about it being international - which is also the description for the above event but I don’t know in what way it is international other than the audience. Anyways - love that a cappella is thriving in so many universities.

Congrats on 2 great acceptances. Hopefully, you’ll add Barnard to that list as well. You’ll get a top-notch education at either and your visits in April will probably help you decide. For my kids, I’d pick WashU over the overly serious, more stressed out vibe at UChicago.

I taught math at Wash. U. for many years. The students are very bright, but the administration wants “retention” and “no problems”. Here is a summary of what happened when I taught differential equations at a level similar to MIT.

The chair of the math dep’t told me that he wanted me to make the class the normal “cookbook” course, telling me to teach students only the steps to work problems like those that will be on the test. He said to do this so that he wouldn’t have “problems”.

An Engineering Assoc. Dean (and Dean of Student Academic Integrity) was concerned about students doing poorly on an exam. I wrote him that almost all of the ones who had done poorly had cheated on the homework. He wrote back: don’t “discourage” them, “retention” is important.

Though the Math Chair kept refusing to show me the “complaints” he was “dealing with”, I finally managed to get a copy of them. Here is what I saw.

An Engineering student tutor “complained” that he “…cannot do…most [MIT} problems …and [he] received an A [in the standard “cookbook” version of the course]…”

An outraged father wrote the Deans that his “understanding” was that the average on a test was 47, and that I didn’t even curve! It was actually 67 – several points lower than the other three tests, and about 40% of the class made A’s, no one below a C. The Deans responded to the parent by asking for his son to report on whether I had “improved”. The student’s “report” made it clear that he did not even recognize that homework problems were on the test – some word for word!

The Chair of the Math Department told me that Math had just “wrested” a course from Engineering, and they weren’t going to let Engineering “wrest” this course from Math. Clearly, there was a competition to see who could meet the “wants” of a few students to the detriment of all students. The course was worth a lot to the winner’s budget. (A Dean had told a previous Chair that he wanted “no complaints”, even if that meant a reduction in standards. That is apparently how the winner is determined.)

I give this example because I was there, not because Wash. U. is the only school behaving this way. There are schools that are ok, though, but you have to beware of those that aren’t.

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