As a parent, you obviously concerned with the safety of your children. If your kids are looking at the University of Chicago the safety may not be at the top of their mind. But it is on yours.
So, is the University of Chicago safe? The university campus itself is very safe because the college has its police department. When needed a police officer can escort the student at night time. However, Hyde Park, a neighborhood where the campus is located, is less safe.
The City of Chicago
Did you know that Chicago means “stinky onion”? You probably didn’t, but despite having an unfortunate name, Chicago is the best city I have ever been to. Our hotel wasn’t in the city center, so we didn’t see much of Chicago driving there, but I was in awe when we ascended the stairs from the metro right into the city.
The towering skyscrapers of the Magnificent Mile were the first things we saw. The beautiful Chicago Clock Tower instantly became my favorite building in all of Chicago. This is what made Chicago different from any modern city I’ve been to.
Yes, it has its modern, rectangular, and recently constructed buildings, but it incorporated many different architectural styles as old as gothic.
Food Because Everyone Likes Food
I can easily say there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of little coffee shops and restaurants in Chicago that you won’t find anywhere else. One of two of my favorite places to eat was a health-based fast food restaurant called “roti”.
The food there was so fresh, and I apologize to any vegetarians, but the meat was so good as well (the salmon especially). And the thing about Chicago is that they have a Starbucks every 2 blocks; Everywhere I turned, I saw a Starbucks.
So you can imagine yourself as a UChicago student getting Starbucks in the city with your friends and perhaps walking along the riverwalk or sitting and talking at one of the numerous small parks Chicago offers.
By the way, there is an amazing deep-dish pizza chain called Lou Malnati’s. They are located all over Chicago and serve the best pizza I have ever eaten. The crust is crunchy, but the rest of the bread is chewy and the sauce is the tiniest bit sweet.
It was the most indescribably delicious pizza. I can’t even describe the feeling of pizza in general, but this was especially good. There was also this spinach bread that melted in your mouth. The wait was a bit long (40-45 minutes) for the restaurant we ate at, but I believe it was totally worth it.
Things To Do In Chicago When You Decide To Escape Campus
Of course, there is the iconic Millennium Park where you will never get a good picture because there are 200 people at the bean at the same time as you. My favorite part of Millennium Park was the small, man-made stream.
You can dip your feet in it and not worry about falling too far because it is about 1.5 feet deep and 3.5 feet wide. If you pick the perfect time to go there like we luckily did, you could read your book in the shade on the wooden boardwalk while your feet rest in the water.
There are also tons of aesthetically pleasing flowers in large amounts, so it is the perfect place to have a photoshoot. We even saw 2 groups simultaneously taking their wedding pictures in the garden!
Or if you are a mermaid and prefer the sea much more than the land, the Navy Pier is much like the stream in Millennium Park; It is just Lake Michigan, that’s all.
There are hundreds of boats that I am sure never leave the pier, but the ones that do create disastrous waves that can get your shoes if you are not careful. Chicago at night is even more beautiful than Chicago in the morning.
It doesn’t have huge screens on the side of their buildings. Instead, Chicago has many lights in all colors to light up the city. We took both a walking tour and bus tour of Chicago at night and I can say the city truly comes to life at Night. It’s indescribable.
That is Chicago City in a nutshell and I highly recommend you visit there even if it is only for vacation. It has become my favorite city in the world because of its cleanliness, diversity, and activities. I want to return there every chance I get.
Time For UChicago Because It’s Awesome
Now, you may be thinking that Chicago is also your new favorite city as well, but what about the actual UChicago neighborhood because that is what you’re here for. UChicago students are a part of Chicago city itself.
They don’t go every day, but the tour guides say that they go at least once a week if they can. Houses can go on house trips to Chicago such as the Deep Dish Pizza Crawl; I believe that is self-explanatory by its title.
All students have a UPass which contains unlimited transportation, so I don’t think Chicago students need a car. If you want, you can have one your first year of study, but parking in Chicago is expensive af.
All students also have an Art Pass that allows students to go to any art museums for free or major discount; The Art Institute of Chicago is free for UChicago students.
The Biggest Info session Ever
UChicago is a very beautiful campus (I will say that about pretty much any school), but it was slightly different than most of the universities we have visited so far. Immediately seeing some of the older and bigger buildings, I could sense some sort of difference, but I couldn’t tell what it was until the walking tour.
Many colleges we have visited are gothic architecture, but UChicago had neo-gothic architecture. It is a very slight difference because the two are very alike, but I liked the variation.
We were instructed to walk into a certain older building but then transferred to another building for the info session. This isn’t very important, but the information session room was very draining. It was a ginormous lecture room.
It had a color palette of two shades of grey and beige. Then there were the fluorescent lights that gave the room very weird lighting. It was a very boring room that would have made me go to sleep if I wasn’t super excited about learning about UChicago.
Besides this, the information session was engaging because you could see the passion for UChicago through the speaker: Maya Schedil.
She began by saying UChicago is the place for innovation and discovery. Enrico Fermi held the first self-sustained nuclear chain reaction here at UChicago. This would lead to the creation of nuclear weapons & energy and change physics forever.
Students attempted to create the same nuclear chain reaction in 1999 and were successful. Don’t worry parents, they don’t do that anymore, but it was for the annual Scav.
The Annual Scav Which I Still Don’t Understand
The annual Scav is something that seems simple, but it took a little bit of outside research for me to understand it. I still don’t think I have everything covered. It is a 4-day scavenger hunt where students have to build, find, create, etc.. things from a list of at least 300 items.
For some, there may even be a road trip somewhere within 1000 miles of Chicago. This is a basic overview, but there will be a more specific example in the Walking Tour portion. I think this is a brilliant opportunity at UChicago for you to show your academic capabilities, but also bond with your friends and meet new people in this wacky, but a once in a lifetime way.
Diversity Back Then
UChicago has also been an institution that accepts different people of races & gender since its creation. During the 19-20th century, UChicago was in the lead for housing the most Black students.
Of course, this was a very, very small fraction of all their students, but impressive considering how racist most people were back then and that there were almost no opportunities for Black people.
UChicago Academics Are Intense
The academics at UChicago are split into 3 parts. The first part is the core. The core is a series of classes that all students take that span across 7 subjects in the sciences & humanities.
It is usually taken in your freshman & sophomore year. The purpose behind the core is the fact that UChicago wants to teach students how to think. The core classes are all small, discussion-based seminars.
People are encouraged to think outside the box and argue different perspectives. It is meant to develop strategies for solving problems or generating ideas; These are the skills you will need in your future no matter what your major is.
Since the core does cover 8 broad topics, it is natural that you will not like all of them. UChicago doesn’t have just a couple of similar classes that meet your core requirements. For example, for your humanities requirement, you can take
Philosophical Perspectives that looks at works of people like Aristotle & Locke or you can take a class called Media Aesthetics that looks at how forms of expressions have changed over time.
The second third of your academic side or UChicago is your major. This isn’t anything snazzy or individual to UChicago, but it is a really big decision nonetheless. Like most schools, you don’t declare it until your sophomore year, but if you are set on what you want to pursue, you most definitely can declare in your freshman year.
And don’t worry, some lady at our info session asked if majors ever fill up and Maya said no.
The third and final part of UChicago academics is electives. You can make this a second major or a minor or two minors, whatever pleases you.
You may be freaking because of these core classes one top of your major(s) & minor(s), but you can take a chill pill now. All students get an academic & career advisor before they even come to UChicago.
The People Who Will Shove You In The Right Direction
You meet with your academic advisor before classes start to help you pick classes, especially in the core because there are many classes you can take to meet the requirements. You are required to meet with your career advisor each year.
They basically run your academic schedule for you so you graduate in your 4 years instead of being completely lost and studying for 30 years. They plan out what classes you need to take to complete your major.
They also open you to workshops that go with your field of study & give you access to certain events that you may be interested in. They could even find internships for you, but it wouldn’t be too hard to do that without them.
Your advisor’s only job is to advise you and nothing else. If you have a problem or are just confused, remember, their only job is to help you survive college.
The Exciting Stuff: Research, Internships, & Study Abroad
Let’s start with the more local one of these three outside of UChicago opportunities: Research. UChicago has 160 research institutes all over the country.
I am not going to bother to list all of them, but the few we talked about are Fermi Research (sound familiar?), Argonne National Laboratory, a Marine Lab in Massachusetts, and the School of Molecular Engineering. Dang, I got tired of writing those 4, imagine what 156 more would feel like.
Now all of this can start in your first year of college. Research is very easy to find; All you have to do is ask a professor and they will hook you up with a research position almost immediately.
If they don’t have a position open for you at the moment, then they will refer you to a colleague that does. During the info session, I recalled seeing a very shiny UChicago building in the city center of Chicago.
I thought that this could be a research building and I asked Maya if research occurred on and off-campus and she replied, “yes”.
As for internships, they are all over the place. There are two main internship opportunities at UChicago: Trek & Metcalf Internship. Trek is very limited because they only take about 15-25 students.
It is a 2-day trip that allows students to meet with potential employers in America & Internationally. The Metcalf is basically available to any student that wants it. There are over 2000 internships that are paid for over the summer and the school year.
Lastly, and personally the most exciting is study abroad. There are 60 study abroad programs over 20 countries. The interesting thing is that study abroad can fill in your core classes. There are 3 types of study abroad: Language, Civilization, and a year-long program. T
he language study abroad is where you study a language and interact with the native speakers. Civilization is going to a typically older place to study a civilization that once lived there.
For example, our speaker Maya went to Athens, Greece to study the Ancient Greek Empire. The year-long program is what I believe can cover your core classes. You study a certain subject in a certain place that corresponds with that subject.
The Quarter System Because College Wants You To Take More Tests That Will Kill Your Grade
Like Northwestern, UChicago runs on a quarterly system. This means that the school year is split into 4 parts/quarters: the fall quarter, the winter quarter, the spring quarter, & the summer quarter. The summer quarter is optional for summer classes.
You need to be taking 3-4 classes per quarter to complete your studies in 4 years. But if you do consistently take 4 or more classes every quarter, you can graduate early. This applies if you haven’t changed your major after your sophomore year.
If you did change your major after your sophomore year, then you will most likely need to take more classes for it to be considered a major. In some cases, people have unknowingly taken the classes they need to complete their newly added major in prior quarters, so they could graduate early as well.
What Does My UChicago Application Need?
What is offered at your high school? How rigorous are your courses? I have written this about nearly every school, but it honestly applies to all universities. If you aren’t taking challenging courses in high school, do you think that makes the schools want you?
Will you be able to handle their academics? They are known to be some of the best in the country. This will be your transcript. Make sure you are taking academically challenging classes that you know will show your strengths and show the college you can handle their work.
UChicago is one of those schools that are test-optional. This means you don’t have to submit any standardized test scores. You can submit your SAT or ACT (no preference) if you think that will benefit your UChicago application, but it is not necessary.
If you do decide to submit your test scores, then you do self-report them on the initial application. If you get accepted and decide to go, then they will require your official test scores.
Next UChicago requires 2 letters of recommendation. These letters need to be from core academic teachers who have seen you in the classroom setting. It is fine if these teachers are not from your junior or senior year, but try to not have 2 letters from freshman teachers. I
f you think that a coach or a boss can add some extra information to enhance your strengths, then UChicago does allow a 3rd recommendation from anyone. Maya also said to write thank you letters to those teachers. They are taking their own time to write you these letters, so Maya said a small note would be much appreciated.
Extracurriculars are not just clubs. Yes, you can submit and talk about clubs because those are important, but what else do you do outside of school? Do you have a part-time job? If so, mention it. Do you take care of your siblings after school? If so, mention it. Do you do a sport outside of school? If so, mention it.
Lastly comes the uncommon questions that are individual to UChicago. Many of you may already know that UChicago requires you to answer 2 questions. One is an essay prompt that is required, and the other gives you a list of options.
These are the uncommon questions. Examples are: If you walked through a Costco and saw a foot and a half a jar of mayonnaise, what would you do with it? If a hot dog is a sandwich, and cereal is a soup but is a ______a______? There are two types of people in this world, describe them.
Here is the whole list for the 2019-2020 applicants. These questions do not have a right or wrong answer, UChicago is apparently curious about what you would do with a giant jar of mayonnaise.
Last Part of The Information Session
As an applicant, you are eligible to apply for financial aid no matter your financial circumstances. UChicago requires 3 things: a FAFSA, a prior record of your family’s tax return, and either the UChicago FA worksheet (free) or a CSS file (not free).
UChicago deduces how much your family can pay and then aids with the rest with no loan expectations. In my personal experience, this has been the best school for financial aid.
Walking Tour of UChicago
One thing I thought was interesting when the tour guides introduced themselves was that they shared their name and their pronouns. Most schools just have the students share their major, a funny experience, or their favorite thing about their college. This is something unique about UChicago.
Unlike other schools, we couldn’t pick our tour guides, but I was very happy with who I ended up with: Luke. He was very funny and dramatic. He double majors in computer science & creative writing and participates in theatre (doesn’t major or minor).
Luke said this is one plus about UChicago because you can get involved in the arts without actually majoring or minoring in them. He is very involved in his dorm life because he is on hall council that organizes events for his dorm and became some sort of house leader.
He is also part of intramural bowling which he sucks at and only goes for the free fries. He has also started a new club: knitting. His facial expression did not indicate that he was proud of this.
After introducing himself, he proceeded to say we will seek the shade because he is pale and his skin likes to go pink under sun exposure.
How Has UChicago Come To Exist?
Let’s start with a little bit of UChicago’s history. One of the founders of UChicago was John D. Rockefeller. Yep, you read that right. John D. Rockefeller who is considered to be one of the wealthiest Americans ever.
He also said that UChicago was one of his best investments ever, and it sure is. UChicago ranks #3 in national universities even though it is newer than many of the universities we have visited.
The campus consisted of only a few buildings when the disastrous & deadly Chicago fire occurred. UChicago quite literally rose from the ashes, and because of that, their mascot is a phoenix.
The Library Where No Extrovert Studies
We then passed by Harper Memorial library which Luke said is ranked by Buzzfeed as one of the most beautiful campus libraries in the US. It is a silent study space, so Luke says doesn’t go there often.
Even though he doesn’t study at the library, Harper Memorial Cafe is his favorite student-run cafe on campus because it has really cool vibes. Harper tutors in Stuart Hall are upperclassmen who help underclassmen with core classes, workshops, and essay edits; Luke says they are super useful.
We made our way under an arch that was very pretty and I am sure that is the only reason Luke took us there. He talked about how he has formed a bond with his advisors. Remember the academic & career advisors I talked about in our information session?
Luke likes to gossip about his life with his academic advisor. He and his really good friend have the same advisor so they scheduled their meetings back-to-back, and together, they bored their advisor.
I am joking, but seriously, you will hear more about Luke’s relationships with the faculty at UChicago.
Does UChicago Protect Me?
Being naturally curious and wanting to confirm a very common question, I asked Luke if the blue light system has ever been used. He said he had only heard of one instance of the blue lights being used.
It was when a student saw a fire in a trashcan, freaked out, and pressed the button on the blue light pole. The fire department came, put the fire out, and everyone survived. To this day, they still don’t know who started the fire.
Shuttles also run from 5 pm to 5 am for students to get back to their dorms. All buses are free for students, so I don’t think there are many cases where a student has to walk back to their dorm late at night.
A Note About Safety From Dad
Since the U Chicago did not have on-campus parking for visitors we had to park the car outside the campus. The impression I had from Hyde Park is somewhat mixed. There were very rundown and very new expensive cars in the neighborhood.
In my opinion, the area looked like a typical gentrified place where professionals live in some safe pockets inside the generally troubled district.
However, you would not want to get more than a mile from the campus. On our way back Google in its infinite wisdom proposed a route which supposed to save us 8 minutes. The Google maps, unfortunately, does not care about the safety of the passengers.
We drove thru such rough neighborhoods so I had only 2 thoughts: a) I hope the tires will not get flat because the roads had huge holes, and b) I don’t want to get stuck here with a flat tire. So, if you planning to visit U Chicago I suggest making sure that your route goes thru the highway and don’t let Google maps to change even if you can save an hour.
Back To A College Kid Writing About Random Buildings
Then I saw a beautiful building that displayed UChicago’s neo-gothic architecture: Cobb Hall. It had vines & leaves crawling up its facade. Luke has only heard of one person not having a class in Cobb Hall and coincidentally, it’s him.
He has only been to Cobb Hall for churros (the second time Luke has mentioned food). Most people have had a class in this hall because of their core classes. Luke said these core classes are actual fun and lead to him choosing one of his majors.
You don’t have to take Bio 101 to meet your biology core requirement. Instead, you can take bugs were the professor gets on his hands and knees and pretends to be the bug. Luke took an Intro to Microbiology: Global Infections & Diseases and found it very engaging.
For his humanities requirement, he took a poetry class, ended up liking it and now majors in creative writing.
As we continued walking, we passed a group and Luke told us if we’ve decided we don’t like him in the last 10 minutes, that we are free to switch to that group.
In his first year, Luke thought he would be a strong boy and not visit the health office when he had an infection. He ended up retaining the infection 6 months later and finally decided to visit student health services. He got his medications and has been healthy ever since.
Cummings life center is a more modern building that does not have any of the neo-gothic architecture of UChicago, but it is confirmed to be the best safe house for a zombie apocalypse by the Zombie Readiness Task Force at UChicago.
Luke said if we end up having a zombie apocalypse in the next hour, you will find him in Cummings Life Center with a supply of Kraft’s Mac N Cheese.
The next building was another modern building called Heinz Building. I thought it was a dining hall where every dish is served with Heinz ketchup. But no, it is a laboratory for Geophysical studies and they have a tsunami simulator on the bottom floor.
Certain classes use it to conduct research, but Luke snuck down there in the middle of the night to try it out himself and came back with a free shower.
We continued with our tour and were led to the engineering building for no reason. Luke wanted to go inside because he desperately needs air conditioning, but the building was closed. I was happy because I was getting very toasty in the sun.
Some Spicy Research Going On In UChicago
Here he talked about the research his friends had done. One of his good friends does psychology research in a lab and gets paid for it. I would do that research as well even if I majored in something unrelated to psychology.
His other good friend does cosmology research. She studies the development of the universe and looks at cosmo rays as they bounce off of the International Space Station and tries to find where they come from.
She got flown out to Denver and New Zealand for her research and will get published before graduation. I applaud this girl for accomplishing so much at the young age of 21.
Luke personally wants to go to Barcelona study abroad because he likes their architecture, so he will most likely do the Civilizations part of the study abroad.
Voices in your head went to ICCA’s (big A Capella tournament) and got 3rd, 3rd, and 2nd
The Shinny Building
As we walked to the info session building, we walked by a glass dome which I had assumed was a cafe, but it is actually Mansueto Library. Many of you have probably seen the inside because it is where the headquarters of divergent was filmed.
It has 3 volumes of books located underneath the first floor. If you are lazy, you can type the book you want into a computer and a giant robotic arm goes down and retrieves the book for you.
For the annual Scav, one guy had to create an alien suit for his friend, build an egg around his friend, and roll him into the library. His friend had to break out of there and terrorize students.
Luke has the funniest story about this library that nearly made me pee my pants. His headphones got unplugged while his computer froze and 7/11 by Beyonce came blasting into the library.
Luckily, the room was completely silent so everyone turned and looked at him. With utter horror marked on his face, he ran out and has never looked back since.
Exercise Because Most Of Us Can’t Maintain A Perfect Figure Without Taking Care Of Our Bodies
Luke also loves Zumba and all of his instructors know him because of his perseverance through the difficult class. UChicago fit classes also offer yoga, kickboxing, spin, etc…. This is all located in the Radnor fitness center.
It has 2 floors of courts (basketball, tennis, etc…), dance studios where Luke’s beloved Zumba classes are held, and a yoga studio that I need for my back pain.
Undefeated by Notre Dame in football
Fun fact about Radnor is it holds the first Heisman trophy is located inside from Jay Berwanger. Berwanger originally used it for a doorstop for his frat house, but then the university took it away from him when they realized how important the trophy would become. Wonder what would have happened to it if they didn’t.
Why Does UChicago Even Do This?
Picasso is possible at UChicago. The SMART museum on campus offers 200+ pieces of art for students to put in their dorms or apartments (the art needs to be returned at the end of the year).
The SMART museum has an archway that leads to the small space outside where students set up tents at the beginning of the year. 4 students who lived in an apartment off-campus all waited in line for art and made a gallery in their apartment.
Do we know why they trust college kids with pieces made by Picasso? No, no we don’t.
You Need Sleep & Fun No Matter How Strong & Studious You Are
The last big stop of our tour was the longest, and the most interesting stop. Luke led us into his dorm “courtyard”. He pointed out that the houses are all in one big building, but are separated by the wide, white strips.
Each house has its own residential advisor, residential heads, and residential director. Luke is the leader of his house or has some sort of high position, so he has formed friendships with all these residential people.
He watches bachelorette every Tuesday with his RA. RH’s are couples in their late 20’s-30’s that can have either kids or a dog. He has teatime every Saturday and Disney sing-along every other Friday with his RH’s and 2 daughters.
Luke’s dorm was giving 100 Hamilton tickets away, and his RD knows he is a theatre kid, so he put one ticket aside for Luke just in case he didn’t win the lottery. Because of his close relationship with the RD, he has gotten free tickets for other plays and games as well. I wish they would give free tuition too….
All houses have a kitchen, a lounge, and a table at the dining hall so you don’t feel lonely and can find friends who you have something in common with (you don’t have to sit at the table)
Even if you move off-campus, you still have access to your dorm as an associate. You will have an associates dinner when you dress up in a dress or suit and tie, sit at your house table, and sophomores roast the freshman.
Roommates are also the best. Luke & his friends tried to make donuts but ended up making a pit fire. They called the Chicago police because they ran out, too afraid to do anything.
I know that both of the dangerous incidents mentioned involved a fire, but I promise UChicago has many fire extinguishers across campus… I think.
Pink & Orange dorm buildings called Max P are connected through underground tunnels
Another Essential Of Life: Food (I Think I Already Mentioned That)
Because we passed Baker dining hall, Luke took another opportunity to talk about food. For your first year, you are required to have an unlimited dining plan (which Luke loved).
Each dining hall, there are 3, has its custom station. For example, one of the dining halls has a panini grill and I think another has a pizza oven.
The week before classes start for incoming freshman is called orientation week. All freshmen come and get free food and parents start crying at the quad. Luke was crying too. They walk through Cobb Gate as a class and students and staff cheer you into college and you walk out through the gates with your class 4 years later.
Now let’s play a game: How long has Luke spent at one dining hall in a day before? 3 hours? No. 4 hours? No. 7 hours? No, go higher. 9 hours? Bingo. All dining halls have food, wifi, and outlets, what more could you need?
Why UChicago Of All Places?
This concludes our wonderfully long walking tour. I give special thanks to the sun for keeping me warm the whole time and Luke for keeping me sweat laughing.
Luke said he loves the diversity & acceptance of UChicago students and he thinks that is the most important part about college.UChicago students have something called the UChicago superpower.
The UChicago superpower is where students will talk about what they are passionate about non-stop. One of Luke’s friends went on for 42 minutes about a video game system. He talked about the history, the current status of video games, the future, etc…
If you don’t feel like a school is right for you no matter who says you will like it, DO NOT GO. Go where you feel the happiest.
The Cherry On Top Of My Wonderful Day
If all you got from this article was that you love Chicago city and want to visit there someday, then I will give you some expert food advice. Visit Seoul Tacos. This was my other favorite place in Chicago.
The mix Mexican style foods such as burritos and tacos and use Seoul ingredients. I had the chicken Gogi bowl and I was in heaven for 15 minutes. The rice was so fluffy and the chicken was perfectly marinated. If you go there, I am sure anything you get will be great, and the most important part is, have fun!