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The Ultimate Guide to Applying to the University of Chicago

What’s Covered:

 

The University of Chicago (UChicago) is recognized as one of the best colleges in the U.S.‚ÄĒit‚Äôs a top producer of Nobel Prize winners and calls one of the nation‚Äôs largest and most vibrant cities home. UChicago is known for attracting intellectually curious students who are high achievers both inside and outside of the classroom and are often thought of as a bit quirky. Don‚Äôt let UChicago‚Äôs reputation for admitting unconventional students fool you, though; like other highly rated colleges, admissions are extremely selective.

 

Average Stats of Accepted University of Chicago Students

 

Applicants to the University of Chicago generally have sterling academics‚ÄĒthey possess impressive GPAs, graduate near the top of their class, and have scored exceptionally well on standardized tests.¬†

  • Average GPA: 4.33
  • Class rank: 99% graduated in the top 10% of their high school class¬†
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1510-1560/33-35

 

Note: It takes more than great grades and spectacular test scores to secure admission to the University of Chicago, however, they will ensure that an applicant receives serious consideration. Top schools like UChicago use a screening tool known as the Academic Index‚ÄĒan applicant‚Äôs entire academic performance represented by a single numerical score‚ÄĒto weed out candidates they deem unqualified. Failing to meet the university‚Äôs academic benchmark can result in the denial of an applicant without their application having been thoroughly reviewed.

 

The University of Chicago practices test-optional admissions, which means that applicants are not required to share their SAT or ACT scores. But just because applicants aren‚Äôt required to share their standardized test scores, it doesn‚Äôt mean they shouldn‚Äôt. It‚Äôs generally considered a smart strategy to share scores that fall within the university‚Äôs middle 50% of accepted applicants‚ÄĒthis is particularly true for scores on the high side of the range.¬†¬†

 

University of Chicago Application Process

 

Plan to apply to the University of Chicago? Here’s what you need to know. 

 

Application Overview

 

The University of Chicago accepts two applications: the Apply Coalition Powered by Scoir and the Common Application. Applicants are also prompted to create a UChicago Account. There is a $75 application fee; however, UChicago doesn’t charge an application fee to students applying for need-based financial aid, veterans, and veteran dependents.

 

The University of Chicago has four paths for admission: Early Action (EA), Early Decision 1 (ED 1), Early Decision 2 (ED 2), and Regular Decision (RD).  

 

Application Path 

Application Deadline

Early Action 

November 1 

Early Decision 1 

November 1 

Early Decision 2

January 3

Regular Decision 

January 3

 

Both Early Decision 1 and Early Decision 2 are binding and students accepted through them are committed to attending the university. UChicago doesn’t publish statistics for ED applicants, although these candidates are traditionally accepted at higher rates than those who apply via other admissions paths. 

 

Early Action and Regular Decision are non-binding and accepted applicants have until May 2 to decide whether to attend the university or not. The overall acceptance rate at UChicago is just 6.47%. 

 

Application Components

 

  • Official high school transcript
  • Secondary school report
  • Midyear report¬†
  • Two teacher recommendations¬†
  • SAT/ACT (optional)
  • Writing supplement
  • Video profile (recommended)¬†

 

Supplemental Essays: The University of Chicago requires applicants to compose two supplemental essays as part of their application. One essay is universal and composed by all applicants; for the other essay, the applicant is asked to respond to one of six prompts. UChicago is well-known for its offbeat essay questions and the opportunity they provide applicants to flex their personalities and interests. 

 

  • Required Prompt: How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago.

 

Students are required to choose one of the next six prompts to respond to.  

 

  • Prompt 1: Was it a cat I saw? Yo-no-na-ka, ho-ka-ho-ka na-no-yo (Japanese for ‚Äúthe world is a warm place‚ÄĚ). MoŇľe jutro ta dama da tortu jeŇľom (Polish for ‚Äúmaybe tomorrow that lady will give a cake to the hedgehogs‚ÄĚ). Share a palindrome in any language, and give it a backstory. ‚Äď Inspired by Leah Beach, Class of 2026, Lib Gray SB ‚Äô12, and Agnes Mazur AB ‚Äė09
  • Prompt 2: What advice would a wisdom tooth have? ‚Äď Inspired by Melody Dias, Class of 2025
  • Prompt 3: You are on an expedition to found a colony on Mars, when from a nearby crater, a group of Martians suddenly emerges. They seem eager to communicate, but they‚Äôre the impatient kind and demand you represent the human race in one song, image, memory, proof, or other idea. What do you share with them to show that humanity is worth their time? ‚Äď Inspired by Alexander Hastings, Class of 2023, and Olivia Okun-Dubitsky, Class of 2026
  • Prompt 4: UChicago has been affiliated with over 90 Nobel laureates. But, why should economics, physics, and peace get all the glory? You are tasked with creating a new category for the Nobel Prize. Explain what it would be, why you chose your specific category, and the criteria necessary to achieve this accomplishment. ‚Äď Inspired by Isabel Alvarez, Class of 2026
  • Prompt 5: Genghis Khan with an F1 racecar. George Washington with a SuperSoaker. Emperor Nero with a toaster. Leonardo da Vinci with a Furby. If you could give any historical figure any piece of technology, who and what would it be, and why do you think they‚Äôd work so well together? ‚Äď Inspired by Braden Hajer, Class of 2025
  • Prompt 6: And, as always‚Ķ the classic choose your own adventure option! In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, choose one of our past prompts (or create a question of your own). Be original, creative, thought provoking. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun!

 

The University of Chicago supplemental essays are described as everything from fun to befuddling to peculiar. The uniqueness of UChicago’s supplemental prompts also often makes them tricky for applicants accustomed to composing more straightforward essays. CollegeVine can help you make sense of the university’s sometimes-confusing essay questions. Our article, How to Write the University of Chicago Essays 2022-2023, provides advice for handling the notoriously unusual questions and strategies for how to create attention-grabbing responses. For those who’ve either already started composing or written their essays, our CollegeVine Essay Review provides free essay feedback from other students and paid expert essay evaluation. 

 

Video Profile: UChicago allows students to submit a two-minute video in place of a traditional college interview, which is not part of the university‚Äôs application process. The production quality of the video is not nearly as important as its content‚ÄĒstudents should share their thoughts and perspective on their specific potential to contribute to UChicago. The video profile isn‚Äôt required, but it is ‚Äúrecommended‚ÄĚ and candidates serious about attending the university are strongly encouraged to create and submit one.¬†¬†¬†

 

Supplemental Materials: Students applying to UChicago may submit supplemental materials that highlight a significant talent, passion, or achievement. Supplemental materials cover a host of fields and materials including creative writing projects, performances, research projects, and business plans. 

 

When Will You Hear Back?

 

Students who applied for Early Action and Early Decision 1 will receive notification by mid-December. Those who applied Early Decision 2 will hear back by mid-February, while those who applied for Regular Decision will receive notification by late March.

 

Application Path 

Application Notification 

Early Action

Mid-December

Early Decision 1 

Mid-December

Early Decision 2

Mid-February  

Regular Decision 

Late March 

 

University of Chicago Financial Aid

 

Nearly 60% of University of Chicago students receive financial support and the school is committed to removing any barriers‚ÄĒincluding financial‚ÄĒthat stand in the way of its students‚Äô academic success and realization of their full potential. UChicago students can also expect a strong return on their investment in the school‚ÄĒthe website Payscale ranks the university 211th (out of 1,978 schools) on its list of best-value colleges.¬†¬†

 

Financial Aid Generosity

 

The University of Chicago practices need-blind admissions, meaning the financial situation of an applicant isn‚Äôt considered when making admissions decisions. UChicago meets 100% demonstrated need in the form of grants‚ÄĒwhich do not require repayment‚ÄĒin lieu of loans.¬†

 

The sticker price of UChicago for students living on campus for the 2022-2023 academic year is $85,536. Below is a breakdown of expenses: 

 

Expense 

Cost 

Tuition

$61,179

Student Life Fee

$1,761

Room and Meals 

$18,396

Books 

$1,8000

Personal Expenses 

$2,400

Total

$85,536

 

There are two other expenses to note at UChicago. The first is an estimated $1,320 one-time class fee which is assessed to first-year students. The other is health insurance, which the university requires all students to carry. Enrollment in the University Student Health Insurance Plan for 2022-2023 costs $4,800.  

 

On-campus expenses are just one consideration when calculating how much it will actually cost to attend college. Our article What Does it Really Cost to Attend The University of Chicago? provides additional insight into other expenses to expect while attending school in the nation’s third-largest city.

 

How to Apply for Financial Aid

 

University of Chicago applicants applying for financial aid are required to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the UChicago Financial Aid Worksheet. Below is the timeline for financial aid applications. 

 

Application Path 

Application Deadline

Early Action

November 15

Early Decision 1 

November 15

Early Decision 2

January 15

Regular Decision 

February 15

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?

 

The University of Chicago has earned a reputation for its selective admissions‚ÄĒa position reinforced by its slim 6.47% acceptance rate. That said, the odds of gaining admission to a sought-after school like UChicago vary from applicant to applicant. CollegeVine‚Äôs free Chancing Engine can add clarity to your chances of acceptance at UChicago and hundreds of other colleges across the country. Our chancing engine uses a number of factors‚ÄĒlike GPA, test scores, and extracurricular activities‚ÄĒto estimate your odds of admission and provide valuable insight into your college profile.¬†

 

Learn more about the University of Chicago, including its diversity, the majors offered, and how long your application should take.


Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.