Total Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,552
Institutional Type: Private
Curricular Flexibility: Less Flexible
Academic Rating: 5
1. Kraft Heinz
3. Boston Consulting Group
4. AQR Capital Management
5. Kaufmanm Hall & Associates
2. The Blackstone Group
3. Jane Street
2. Goldman Sachs
3. JP Morgan
2. New York City
3. San Francisco
4. Washington, DC
College Scorecard (Early Career): $68,100
EOP (Early Career): $61,700
PayScale (Mid-Career): $114,200
Once a bastion of uncompromising intellectuals lovingly referred to as “the place where fun comes to die,” the University of Chicago has undergone a transformational rebranding over the past decade. Still a destination point for an army of 6,500 brilliant young people, it now boasts an acceptance rate in the same league with Ivies like Brown and Yale (40 percent were accepted as recently as 2005) and, while still as academically rigorous as any institution in the country, it has worked to expand its previously unidimensional appeal.
There are fifty-one majors at the University of Chicago, but more than 50 percent of degrees conferred are in four concentrations: economics, biology, mathematics, and political science. Economics alone is the selection of roughly one-quarter of the undergraduate population, in large part because the university does not, for reasons of philosophy and tradition, offer a traditional business major.
The University of Chicago runs on a quarter system that equates to four ten-week sessions in which students take three or four classes at a time. Given the legendarily heavy workload at the school, the truncated terms can lead to a good deal of stress and an excessive number of all-night study sessions. All undergraduates must plow through the school’s common core curriculum that requires an introduction to the tools of inquiry in every discipline: math and science (6 combined courses), humanities (6 courses), and social science (3 courses). Many elect to take nothing but core courses for their entire freshman year.
A 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio means that classrooms remain fairly intimate, and face-time with the renowned faculty is a reality. More than three-quarters of UChicago undergraduate sections have an enrollment of nineteen or fewer students. Undergraduate research opportunities are ubiquitous as 80 percent of students end up working in a research capacity alongside a faculty member. A solid 48 percent of undergrads study abroad at one of the sixty-six programs offered in thirty-two cities around the world.
No matter your area of concentration, a degree from UChicago will carry a great deal of weight in the eyes of employers and graduate/professional schools alike. All of the areas previously mentioned as the most popular majors have particularly sterling reputations with a global reach. On that topic, if you name a prestigious postgraduate award or fellowship, chances are the University of Chicago is one of the most frequent producers. In the last five years students have captured 118 Fulbright Scholarships, thirteen Goldwater Scholarships, five Marshall Scholarships, and four Rhodes Scholarships. Perhaps most astoundingly, between faculty and alumni the UChicago boasts ninety affiliated Nobel Prizes (eight are currently on faculty) over the school’s illustrious history.
With its campus based in the Hyde Park neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, students have access to a vibrant metropolis within walking distance of their dorms. Countless museums, restaurants, bookshops, parks, and theaters are never more than a stone’s throw away. Given UChicago’s reputation as a haven for hardcore intellectuals, it may come as a surprise that there are nineteen official Greek organizations on campus with a participation rate of 20percent. Athletes, nicknamed the Maroons, participate in NCAA Division III. There are twenty varsity teams that are evenly split between the genders; no athletic scholarships are offered, and athletics, in general, capture a limited degree of student attention. Yet, a hard-to-comprehend 70 percent of the student body participates in the school’s extensive intramural and club sports programs. Over 400 undergraduate-run clubs are active, including a number of improve and theater groups (the university is the birthplace of modern improv), community service organizations, and publications. DOC is the nation’s oldest student-run film society and screens films on a daily basis. On-campus housing consists of seven residence halls divided into thirty-nine houses designed to nurture a sense of community. Freshmen are required to participate in the university housing system, but a large percentage of upperclassmen, 45percent of the total student body, reside in off-campus housing.
The university pours ample resources into career services, employing fifty-two full-time consultants who have highly specialized areas of expertise including business careers, law school planning, health-care careers, journalism, STEM, and start-ups. Boasting a student-to-advisor ratio of 126:1, UChicago has one of the absolute best ratios of any institution included in this guide. It also puts its extensive staff to work on behalf of undergraduate students. To help quantify that statement, the staff engaged students in 12,409 one-on-one advising appointments last year. An exceptional 80 percent of freshmen engage with the Career Advancement Office. Through the Metcalf Internship Program, massive numbers of students procure internship positions at top companies around the globe. In a given year, UChicago students secure more than 2,800 internships with more than 850 organizations. Undergraduates participate in excess of 500 employer site visits around the world that are known as Career Treks as well as 200externships. The university forges strong connections with employers who are eager to conduct on-campus interviews with students; it currently has over one hundred full-time recruiting partners, including a laundry list of Fortune 1000companies. Incredibly, 1,360 distinct employers recruited at the school last year. Unmatched in terms of sheer personnel power and deeply committed to personalized, expert student counseling, UChicago Career Advancement Office is a leader in the career services realm.
On commencement day, 93 percent of last year's graduates already had their next step lined up, whether that involved entering the world of employment or continuing their higher education odyssey in graduate school. Business and financial services and STEM are the two sectors that scoop up the most graduates, but public policy and service and consulting also were well represented. The largest employers of grads, by volume, included Facebook, Google, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, McKinsey & Company, Bank of America, Citi, and Accenture. While many graduates go on to lucrative careers, the median income at age thirty-four for a UChicago alum is $62k, significantly less than graduates of many Ivy League institutions. For comparison, the median Penn grad makes $30k more.
University of Chicago grads are highly sought after by elite graduate universities. The top seven destinations for recent graduates were Yale, Columbia, Penn, MIT, Stanford, UCLA, and Johns Hopkins. Top law schools swoon at the sight of applicants from UChicago; 84 percent of applicants to Top 14 institutions gained admittance last year. Twenty-four grads were accepted by NYU, sixteen by UChicago itself, fourteen by Columbia, twelve by Harvard, and eight by Stanford. Med school applicants found similar success with 85 percent earning acceptance, more than double the national average. A fairly substantial 39 percent of graduates remain in the Midwest after finishing their degrees, 31percent migrate to the Northeast, and 15 percent make the journey west.
• “There is a lot of culture. You see a lot of art, exhibits, and people who are into different things that you’ve never
even heard of. It’s really interesting to live in a place where it overflows with that kind of cultural curiosity.”
• “You’re twenty minutes away from the city, which is nice because you feel like you’re in a small neighborhood
with that cozy feel, but at the same time you’re not far from Chicago.”
• “A lot of professors live in Hyde Park, so it’s fun to see your professors walking their dog.”
• “Hyde Park has nice parks and has some nice history.”
• “The food situation is bad. All the chains and stuff are long walks away. After a year of eating dining hall food, I
need something close by.”
• “Being somewhat close to Chicago and also somewhat not. It takes about 45-minutes to get into the city which
can be ridiculously annoying.”
• “It’s easy to stay in Hyde Park and not go into other areas of Chicago. Everything we need is here and if you’re
not conscious of it, it’s easy not to explore.”
• “We do get some security alerts about muggings and stuff like that. For the most part, the things that happen to
students include just getting their phone stolen, but no one gets hurt.”
• “The UChicago name carries weight. In terms of graduate school or job applications, I’m starting to realize how much weight it carries.”
• “Chicago as a city is pretty amazing. A lot of the architecture is stunning. It’s also nice to be involved in a pretty big and popular city that has a lot more people of color.” [About 36% of the population of Chicago is Black.]
• “The Core Curriculum has benefited my education a lot. I feel that if I had gone to another college I wouldn’t have read nearly as many fundamental works as I have. No matter what you’re majoring in, it’s helpful to know what Marx is about. It’s contributed to my growth as a person, not just a student.”
• “The student body and professors are truly some of the most ambitious and passionate people I’ve ever met, whether that be academically, or in extracurricular activities. This ambition is very contagious and makes you do as much and learn as much as you can.”
• “To push yourself. For me, it’s really hard to grapple with the fact that I’m not always going to get all A’s. Any grade I get I work exceptionally hard for so it means more to me even when I get that B+.”
• “If you’re someone who doesn’t like to do work. I don’t know anybody who has not said, “I’m not going out tonight to do work.” It definitely breaks you down before it builds you up.”
• “For somebody who’s pre-med, you’re not going to have a perfect GPA. Accept that you will have a lower GPA than you expect when you graduate when you compare to the national average. Medical schools consider that you go to UChicago. It can be really frustrating to work your butt off and still not the grade that you want. If you care more about the grade than what you learned, don’t come.”
• “It can be sad to see some of the segregation and disparity in some areas of the city.”
• “If you value the traditional social life and the idea of Greek life - how it is at big state schools - it’s not the place for you.”
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