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University of Chicago
In a Nutshell
For the first Midwestern school on our list, the U.S. Universities tour has selected the University of Chicago. Situated just south of Chicago in the Hyde Park neighborhood, the University of Chicago is a private university with a focus on research in many fields. The University of Chicago offers fifty majors and twenty-nine minors to its undergraduate students that number about 5,134. This university has a majority of students in its graduate and graduate professional programs, with over 10,000 students in the programs. The graduate programs available include Biology, Humanities, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, and there are schools for Divinity, Business, Law, Medicine, Public Policy, and Social Service Administration. The University of Chicago follows a quarter system that runs from September to June.
The University of Chicago got its start in around 1890 by a Baptist society, though the school itself is secular, and was funded by John D. Rockefeller. The first classes started in 1892, and the school quickly expanded, adding a business school and law school over a few years.
The University of Chicago is considered to have a very high level of research activity, with twelve research institutes and 123 research centers on campus. Many important discoveries and innovations have occurred at the University of Chicago, like the isolation of plutonium and breakthroughs in various departments, like economics and sociology. There are many opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience as research assistants, which are often paid positions.
Eight current faculty members at the University of Chicago are Nobel Laureates, and over its history, a total of 85 Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with this school, making it the most of any university in the world. The student to faculty ratio at the University of Chicago is six to one, and about 90 percent of classes are taught by professors, not teaching assistants.
The five largest majors at the University of Chicago are Economics, Biology, Political Science, Mathematics, and English. The University of Chicago Press is largest university press in the country, publishing a variety of books as well as a widely used style guide.
Bang For Your Buck
Tuition costs for the 2011-2012 school year were about $42,000, with an additional $12,000 for room and board for students living on campus, and optional university health insurance fees add almost $3,000 annually. Several aid options are available, and the University of Chicago takes into account as much as possible about each student’s need in order to calculate what each will pay. The University will work to meet the rest of the need with institutional grant funds, including need-based scholarships for lower income students. The University of Chicago also provides merit-based scholarships to some of the top students at the school.
The University of Chicago, as well as the city next to it, have a fairly diverse population in every way. The Midwest is the best represented region among students at the University of Chicago, followed by the Mid-Atlantic, and the West. About 9 percent of students come from outside the United States.
Freshmen are required to live on campus in one of the thirty-five houses of about seventy students each, and about 60 percent of students continue to live on campus after their freshman year. There are also fourteen fraternities and six sororities, but only about one in ten students takes part in the Greek system at the University of Chicago. For graduate students, the university offers campus apartments.
There are over 350 recognized student organizations for a wide variety of interests, which include cultural, religious, and academic groups. The Doc Films group is a student film society and one of the best known student organizations, which shows nightly movies. Various events take place around campus, including a school-wide scavenger hunt every May, the Festival of the Arts, and a summer concert and carnival called Summer Breeze.
The University of Chicago has nineteen varsity teams, and plays in the NCAA Division III level. A variety of club and intramural sports are available to students.
Location, location, location!
The University of Chicago is located about seven miles south of Chicago’s city center, in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Right next to campus is Lake Michigan, which provides additional recreational activities and beautiful scenery. Around the campus is the scenic botanic garden, and English Gothic architecture, styled after Oxford University. Part of the campus includes parks that were created for the 1893 World Columbian Exposition.
Chicago offers a vibrant culture with lively nightlife, diverse cuisines, and many opportunities for work and internships. A Chicago Studies program is offered at the University of Chicago to give students a better idea of the city’s history and what it has to offer today.
Why the University of Chicago Made Our List
The University of Chicago sits at the top of many lists of top universities in the United States for its strong research focus and variety of programs. As a school with many graduate and professional schools, the University of Chicago can provide undergraduates with resources that can help guide them towards continuing their education. This can also provide undergraduates with opportunities to gain experience as research assistants in a variety of fields that are not strictly limited to the sciences.
This school has a good balance of strong academics and a fun social scene with plenty events to choose from, and is willing to help meet its students’ financial needs. Its location right next to Chicago adds excitement and opportunity to the college experience, making the University of Chicago an excellent choice for a top university in the Midwest.