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Colleging in Chicago: University of Chicago

- Justine

UChicago

And now (drumroll) the part where I talk about the college part of colleging! I visited two schools in the Chicago area, University of Chicago and Northwestern University. These schools both came up on collegeboard when I was browsing through colleges I might like, and the February break seemed like a perfect time to go out and tour them. There are several other schools in the area, and for more ambitious collegers, I encourage you to also check out The University of Illinois at Chicago, DePaul University, and Loyola University (the latter two are Catholic schools). My mom and I wanted time to digest each school, so we saw U. Chicago on one day and Northwestern the next.

University of Chicago’s website gives great instructions on how to take the train or bus to Hyde Park, where the campus is located. We took the Metra Electric commuter train and got there pretty quickly, about fifteen minutes with a ten minute walk to the campus from there. The architecture of the buildings is a mixture of English Gothic (think gargoyles and spires) and modern. Add lots of trees and snow drifts and you’ve got a gorgeous campus.

In Rosenwald Hall, visitors got hot chocolate and a whole slew of pamphlets about majors, minors, undergraduate programs, studying abroad, student publications, and so on. I picked up everything that was of any interest to me at all, and read it on the train back to Chicago. I would advise picking up as many pamphlets and papers that appeal to you as possible. That way, you’ll have all the information available to you back at home, and you can refer back at it when you apply.

We were then led to another building for an information session. The woman who spoke at mine was quite enthusiastic about the university and not only provided us with information about the school’s programs and how to apply, but with tons of anecdotes and personal opinions that really helped me understand the character and personality of the school. I ended up taking lots of notes, so I would definitely bring a notebook and some pens! Don’t just take notes about the statistics– quickly jot down what appealed to YOU personally. For example, the margins of my notes were filled with “has its own building with UChicago teachers in Paris –> : ) ” and “small, discussion-based classes = yes yes yes!” Finally, ask lots of questions, because the person giving the info sessions is most likely an admissions officer and will know practically everything.

Next we broke into smaller groups to tour with students. On the tour, you get an even better sense of the school’s character, because the student you’re touring with is in the middle of experiencing it. We saw all the main academic buildings, the student center, and two huge libraries (one of which my tour guide went to to socialize, and the other where he went to do “real studying.”).

Now I have a very, very important piece of advice: wear warm shoes. I wore converses, and the rubber tips got very cold very fast. The tour is 90% outside, and I had to hop up and down during most of it to keep my feet from becoming ice cubes. So just remember that Chicago is quite cold until April hits.

After the tour, we asked about lunch options and they gave us vouchers for a free lunch at one of the dining halls! The food was actually delicious. I had a slice of pizza, a turkey burger and fries, a salad, and topped that all off with a delectable cone of walnut ice cream (guess who’s going to gain a gajillion pounds when they go to college?). They had loads of vegetarian and vegan options, and all of dining hall staff were pleasant. Finally, we stopped at the well-stocked book store and spent a half hour browsing.

Did I saw this would be my final installment? Whoops! Turns out I loved U. Chicago and couldn’t stop writing about it. Stay tuned for the REAL final installment on Northwestern and don’t forget to visit www.smartcollegevisit.com for college trip tips!

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