What is University of Chicago Known For? Is University of Chicago a Good School?

Established in 1890, the University of Chicago is a private research institution with a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,989 students as of the fall of 2020. 

Since the school was founded, the University of Chicago has maintained its unique, interdisciplinary approach to undergraduate education, emphasizing the importance of the intersections between traditionally distinct areas of study.

The university boasts of having a singular focus on the intellectual process of inquiry, especially concerning the understanding, analysis, and lessening of the most pressing real-world issues affecting modern people.

Located in Hyde Park, the school’s 217-acre urban campus offers students close proximity to all that downtown Chicago has to offer. 

The university has a six-quarter residency requirement, meaning that students are required to live in on-campus housing for about the first three years of study.

Aside from the benefits associated with living in a bustling city atmosphere, the University of Chicago’s campus also features beautiful plant life and architecture. In fact, the school’s campus is a designated botanic garden.

Modeled after the iconic, English-Gothic style of architecture seen at the University of Oxford in England, the University of Chicago’s core campus features intricate ironwork, carved stone chimeras or grotesques, towering spires, and many other breathtaking, distinguished structures. 

In the following article, we will discuss what has earned the University of Chicago its high esteem and strong reputation, including its most well-known academic programs, its most prominent clubs and athletic programs, and much more. 

What Majors & Academics Are University of Chicago Known For?

University of Chicago
Michael Barera, University of Chicago (Joe and Rika Mansueto Library), CC BY-SA 4.0

In recent years, the most popular undergraduate major among UChicago students who have declared one was economics, with 24.04% — equal to 895 students — choosing this area of study. 

Even further, the economics major was chosen by more students than biological science and math  — the second and third most popular majors, respectively — combined. 10.37%, or 386 students, declared a biology major, with the math major being almost just as popular at 10.34%, or 385 declared major students.

As a complement to the school’s generalized Core Curriculum, the University of Chicago offers more than 50 different majors and about 40 minors, not to mention a vast number of specialized and pre-professional programs. 

Beyond its many programs of study, the University of Chicago is quite well-known for being one of the best institutions for undergraduate research in the United States. In addition, the reach of the school’s research efforts is international

With additional campuses located in Delhi, Hong Kong, Paris, London, and Beijing, UChicago has established itself as an intellectual powerhouse in many corners of the globe. 

The college’s many centers and other facilities serve as a meeting place for leading experts in just about every area of scholarly inquiry. 

UChicago students, faculty, and alumni often make news for their innovative research in every field, from space science to cancer prevention, social justice advocacy and fashion to international politics, and more.

Is University of Chicago a Good School?

The University of Chicago is consistently ranked within the top 10 colleges in the United States. 

According to the 2022 edition of the US News and World Report’s annual college rankings list, the University of Chicago is currently tied for sixth place among all universities in the United States. 

In addition, the college has also been ranked the single best university for veterans in the country. 

The median high school GPA of admitted first-year students at the school is a 4.2 on a 4.0 scale, meaning that the average successful applicant earns nearly straight As in all classes. With an acceptance rate of only 7%, the University of Chicago’s admissions process is highly selective. 

These statistics suggest that the University of Chicago only admits the crème de la crème. 

Through years of study at UChicago, students have ample opportunities to conduct research and gain a comprehensive education in the major, minor, and specialization of their choice. 

The school’s Core Curriculum emphasizes the importance of free speech and expression in order to inspire students to examine, understand, and solve the world’s most pressing academic, social, and political issues.

With an impressive 94 Nobel Prize laureates among the school’s alumni, the University of Chicago’s approach to undergraduate education, as well as its rigorous research and academic program offerings, are clearly of stellar quality. 

University of Chicago Traditions

Since the University of Chicago was founded in 1890, it has come to establish a number of unique traditions. 

One of these is the Scavenger Hunt, the largest scavenger hunt in the world. Since the tradition began in 1987, the University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt — or ScavHunt — has been a fixture of the school’s culture, taking place over the course of four days in May of each year. 

Beyond the standard list of clues or items to obtain, the four-day Scavenger Hunt includes a variety of events, like the Scav Olympics, a road trip, and a blood drive. 

Blood donations from the ScavHunt Drive are donated to the University of Chicago Medical Center.

A longstanding superstition that persists on the University of Chicago’s campus involves the golden seal featured on the Reynolds Club floor. 

The seal depicts a phoenix, intended to reference the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the city’s subsequent rebirth from its ashes. 

According to this tradition, any student who steps on the seal will be doomed to not graduate in four years.  

The seal is not the only school tradition that involves the Reynolds Club. Each Wednesday, the Club also hosts Dollar Shake Days, offering students an opportunity to grab a milkshake as a middle-of-the-week treat.

Prominent Clubs & Extracurricular Activities at University of Chicago

University of Chicago
Ndshankar, University of Chicago main quadrangles, CC BY-SA 4.0

At the University of Chicago, students have the option to become a part of any of the more than 400 recognized student organizations — or RSOs — the school has to offer. UChicago’s many extracurricular activities include club sports, performance groups, Greek life, and many more. 

One of the college’s most prominent RSOs is Rhythmic Bodies in Motion, commonly referred to by the acronym RBIM. 

The largest student dance organization on campus, RBIM holds showcase performances in various dance styles, such as tango, jazz, tap, and hip-hop.

Each year, auditions for the annual spring showcase are held during the fall. For students who are interested in getting involved in this club beyond the annual showcase, RBIM also has a subgroup of students who perform at miscellaneous campus events throughout the year.

UChicago’s Greek life programs are growing, with over 20 different sororities and fraternities currently on campus. While most of the school’s fraternities have off-campus houses, none of the four sororities have their own houses.

Popular among the university’s football players, one of the most prominent UChicago fraternities is Phi Gamma Delta, also known as FIJI. 

What Sports Are University of Chicago Known For?

The University of Chicago is home to 20 varsity sports teams, known as the Maroons. Many of the school’s intercollegiate teams compete in the University Athletic Association conference of the NCAA’s Division III.

In baseball and football, the Chicago Maroons are members of the Midwest Conference. 

The University of Chicago’s most well-known athletic teams includes both the men’s and women’s tennis teams.

As of the 2021-22 academic year, the men’s tennis team is ranked #1 among all colleges in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Division III. The women’s tennis team is currently ranked second in their division but has claimed the #1 spot in the past.

Other prominent athletic programs at the University of Chicago include the men’s and women’s cross country teams, which regularly appear in the top 10 in the rankings. 

In 2022, the women’s cross country team came in 6th place in the NCAA championships. The same year, the men’s team came in 11th place. 

Why University of Chicago?

For students who prefer a smaller, more intimate classroom environment, the University of Chicago is a great choice. 

It boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of just 5:1, meaning that students at this school can enjoy all the benefits of a more intimate, tight-knit classroom environment, as well as numerous opportunities to receive one-on-one support from professors and other faculty.

University of Chicago’s first-year retention rate — a widely acknowledged indicator of how satisfied students are at a school — is one of the best in the country, at an impressive 99%. In other words, nearly every single freshman at UChicago returns for the second year of study. 

For students who are considering enrolling in graduate school after completing a bachelor’s degree, the University of Chicago is an especially great choice. 

In the most recent admission cycle, the acceptance rate for UChicago graduates at the top 20 law schools was 97%. 

The medical school acceptance rate, on the other hand, was 85%. This data shows that students are more than prepared for their next step after earning a degree from UChicago, regardless of what career path they choose.

In short, students choose the University of Chicago for the high-quality education the school is known to offer.