How to Get Into UChicago: Admissions Stats + Tips

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What’s Covered:

 

The University of Chicago is a private university of 6,499 undergraduates located in Hyde Park, Chicago. The school is especially well known for its programs in economics, mathematics, and social sciences. UChicago attracts intellectually gifted and unique students that have a deep passion for the subjects they have chosen to study. In this post, we’ll discuss how to be admitted to UChicago, what you can do to make your application stand out, and how you can improve your chances of acceptance.

 

How Hard Is It to Get Into The University of Chicago?

 

It is extremely difficult to be accepted to UChicago. In 2021, 37,986 students applied to UChicago and 2,408 were admitted for an acceptance rate of 6.3%. The University does not release data on admissions for Early Action and Early Decision applicants.

 

Your chances of acceptance may be higher or lower than 6.3%. To understand your personal chances of being accepted to UChicago, we recommend using our free admissions calculator. This tool can determine your chances of admittance based on your GPA, test scores, and extracurriculars. We’ll even give you tips on how you can improve your profile! 

 

Average Academic Profile of Accepted University of Chicago Students

 

The following info is based on UChicago’s Class of 2024 profile page.

 

GPA

 

UChicago doesn’t report its average GPA, but as it is a very selective school, you’ll need to get all A’s (or almost all A’s) in the most advanced classes offered at your high school.

 

SAT/ACT

 

The middle 50% of ACT scores were 34-35. The middle 50% of SAT scores were 1510-1560. However, the university admitted students with wider score ranges of 20-36 and 1020-1600.

 

Class Rank

 

99% of admitted students were in the top 10% of their high school classes.

 

What is the University of Chicago Looking for?

 

It is clear that nearly all students at UChicago have stellar GPAs and test scores. When admissions officers evaluate students, they look for factors besides academic performance, and seek to understand how and why their applicants are intellectually motivated. Admissions officers at UChicago look at your entire profile, including GPA, test scores, extracurricular activities/work experience, class rank, recommendations, and essays when making an admissions decision. All these factors are important and taken into consideration. Below is a list of especially important factors admissions officers take into consideration when choosing students. 

 

How the University of Chicago Evaluates Applications

 

1. Writing Skills

 

Unlike some other schools, UChicago evaluates applicants based on their writing skills, even if they are applying as a STEM major. One way this is done is through UChicago’s quirky prompts, which encourages students to think creatively and outside of the box. These prompts allow admissions officers to determine whether you are intellectually motivated and how your unique background contributes to UChicago’s environment.

 

2. Extracurricular Involvement

 

According to the class of 2024 admissions statistics, many admitted students participated in extracurricular activities at their high school. Although UChicago stresses that no single activity, GPA or test score will guarantee admission, it is clear that extracurriculars are important in admissions decisions. The full chart of extracurricular activities for Class of 2024 is below: 

 

Activity

Percentage of Students Involved

Community Service

81%

Editorial (newspaper, magazine, etc.)

22%

Religious Organization

15%

Student Government

38%

Theater

22%

Varsity Athletics

65%

Music

51%

 

3. Academic Curiosity

 

UChicago describes its students as searching for a “fearless pursuit of truth” at a rigorous institution. Students at UChicago have a love for learning and academics. One student from UChicago picked the university “because it had the most challenging and diverse academic program.” Another was drawn to its “theoretical approach to learning” and “niche” majors and classes. It is clear that students at UChicago enjoy learning for learning’s sake. Emphasizing this in your supplemental essays and through your extracurricular involvement will be helpful.

 

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into the University of Chicago

 

1. Achieve at least a 4.0 GPA while taking the most challenging classes available

 

The average UChicago GPA is likely very high, as 99% of all students were in the top 10% of their graduating class. To get the highest GPA possible, you should be taking the hardest classes at your school for the GPA weight (AP and IB classes) and getting strong grades. To learn more, we have a whole post about how many AP classes you need for top schools.

 

How exactly do admissions officers determine whether your transcript is competitive, given how different school standards are? Admissions officers use something called the Academic Index (AI), which is a score composed of your GPA, course rigor, and SAT/ACT scores. Selective schools may filter out students if their AI is lower than their desired thresholds. If your AI clears a school’s standards, you should at least get your application read.

 

If your GPA is lower than average, and you’re a freshman or sophomore, check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, it will be harder to increase your GPA, so the easiest way to increase your Academic Index score is to get a higher ACT or SAT score.

 

2. Aim for a 1570 SAT and 35 ACT 

 

The middle 50% of students admitted to UChicago had an ACT score of 34-35 and SAT of 1510-1560. You should aim to get scores slightly higher in the 75th percentile, which would be a 1570 SAT and 35 ACT (near-perfect scores!), but anything in the 50% range is pretty good.

 

Although UChicago is test-optional and has been for years, we recommend taking the ACT or SAT if you can do so safely. Schools are still admitting students with test scores at higher rates. If your score is above the 25th percentile, we recommend that you submit your scores. You can get recommendations on whether or not you should apply test-optional using our free Chancing Engine

 

Since UChicago superscores, you should also consider taking the SAT or ACT 2-3 times to get your highest scores possible in all sections.

 

To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine resources:

 

 

3. Cultivate at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”)

 

Extracurricular activities can be broken down into 4 tiers depending on how involved you are with them. For example, being a nationally-ranked soccer player would be considered a Tier 1 activity. Additionally, winning prestigious national awards like the Intel Award would also be considered Tier 1. 

 

Tier 2 activities encompass holding major leadership positions or winning a state-level title. For example, being president of Model UN or making all-state orchestra would be Tier 2 activities.

 

Tier 3 and Tier 4 activities are more participatory extracurriculars. Tier 3 activities would be minor leadership positions in high school clubs. Tier 4 activities include participating in high school clubs without holding a leadership position, or general volunteerism.

 

Do you want to get involved in more extracurriculars, but don’t know where to start? Here’s a list of the best extracurriculars for college.

 

Your application will be seen as more competitive for Top 20 schools if you participate in more Tier 1 and Tier 2 activities, or if you have one or two highly developed interests. This is called a “spike,” and signals your dedication and interest in a certain area or field . Remember, admissions officers want to accept diverse, passionate students, so having exceptional achievements in one or two areas is a great way to differentiate yourself from other applicants.

 

4. Write Engaging and Creative Essays

 

UChicago is known for its creative and whimsical supplemental essay prompts. For example, some previous year’s prompts asked “what’s so odd about odd numbers?” and “You’re on a voyage in the thirteenth century, sailing across the tempestuous seas. What if, suddenly, you fell off the edge of the Earth?” These essay prompts certainly look different than nearly every other school, but allow admissions to judge applicants based on creativity, writing skills, and how well they can articulate their ideas in a short essay. You should spend an ample amount of time brainstorming ideas and preparing your essay. We have a guide to the UChicago essays to help you out!

 

Don’t forget to also spend time on your Common App essay. We’ve compiled resources on how you can write a great Common App essay to give you a head start.

 

5. Apply Early Action/Early Decision

 

Applying Early Action or Early Decision can be helpful as it shows your commitment to UChicago. UChicago offers Early Action 1, as well as Early Decision 1, Early Decision 2, and Regular Decision. Although UChicago does not release statistics on early application outcomes, applying early decision can increase your chances of acceptance. However, it is important to remember that Early Decision is a binding agreement between you and a university, and you must attend if you are admitted. Early Decision applications are due early in November, and it is important that you are completely ready to apply by the application deadline. Additionally, you will be unable to compare financial aid packages between various schools if you apply and are accepted Early Decision, so don’t apply Early Decision if you aren’t comfortable paying the price shown on their net price calculator.

 

UChicago also offers a non-binding, non-restrictive Early Action deadline. You can still apply early to other universities under this option, and you are not required to attend UChicago if you are accepted to other universities. This can be a great option for someone who is very interested in UChicago, but wants to keep their options open. 

 

How to Apply to the University of Chicago

 

Deadlines

 

Application Timeline

Deadline

Early Action 1

November 1, 2021

Early Decision 1

November 1, 2021

Early Decision 2

January 4, 2021

Regular Decision

January 4, 2021

 

Application Requirements

 

  • Students can apply using the Common Application or the Coalition Application, and must submit all required information. 
    • The application includes extracurricular activities, demographic information, and a personal statement
    • Through either application, students must submit the UChicago Supplemental Essays
  • The application fee is $75 but may be eligible to be waived through the Automatic Fee Waiver
  • School counselors should send the student’s transcript as well as the Secondary School Report
  • UChicago requires 2 letters of recommendation from teachers who have taught an academic subject. 
  • School counselors should submit the student’s mid-year report.
  • SAT and ACT scores are optional.

 

Learn more about the University of Chicago 

 

Want to learn more about UChicago? Check out the other resources we offer to learn more about the university. 

 

University of Chicago Student Panel

How to Write the University of Chicago Essays 2021-2022

UChicago Essay Example: Breakdown + Analysis

UChicago Essays: How Real Students Approached Them

 

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Short Bio
Juliette is a senior at Cornell University studying Industrial & Labor Relations. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, running, drinking coffee, and exploring different hiking trails in Ithaca.

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