10 Fun Facts about the University of Chicago

University Life

10 Fun Facts about the University of Chicago

Are you curious about the (in)famously cerebral and lovably quirky University of Chicago? If you're considering the University of Chicago for either an undergraduate or graduate degree, then read on to learn a bit more about the history and legacy of the school "where fun comes to die" (jokingly, of course).

1. The Uncommon School

Notorious for its essay questions (https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/apply/essay/past-essay-questions), the University of Chicago’s application process is actually a great deal easier now than it used to be. The school only started accepting the Common Application in 2008. In fact, it defiantly named its application the “Uncommon Application” before then. Still, the quirky and erudite culture has very much been kept alive – the university’s college admissions blog is cheekily titled the Uncommon Blog. Writing the UChicago application can be fun, rewarding, and maddening, often at the same time. Just be prepared to “find x” or wax eloquent on how you feel about Wednesday.

2. Nobel Prizes Galore

The University of Chicago’s official mascot might be a phoenix, but it may as well be a Nobel laureate. Despite being established relatively recently in 1890 and being a small school for most of its history, UChicago boasts 89 affiliated Nobel Prize winners, more than all but three institutions in the world. The economics and physics departments have been particularly prodigious producers of laureates, but at 89, there are plenty of prizes to go around.

3. Economics Never Sleeps

Economics is a vaunted domain at UChicago. There even exists a school of economic thought – the Chicago school of economics – named after the university. Legendary figures who have walked the hallowed halls of the economics department include Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, and Ronald Coase. The tradition has not stopped: in 2013, professors Eugene Fama and Lars Peter Hansen won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics Sciences. Altogether, UChicago economists have won almost 40% of Nobel Prizes in economics ever awarded!

4. Skynet as Scholar

The Mansueto Library looks like a giant glass egg, and one might mistake it for something other than a library because no bookshelves are discernible. However, this is because everything is stored below ground. At Mansueto, underground robots retrieve your books for you. After selecting your book on a computer, robotic cranes grab the requested item from subterranean stacks and deliver it to you. There is even a sign by the library’s entrance counting the number of days that have passed that the system has not yet gone self-aware.

5. Scavenging for Glory

A beloved tradition is the annual Scavenger Hunt, which holds the world record for being the largest in the world. Each year, a list of about 300 items is compiled. Upon list release, teams scurry off to find, build, or create items to score as many points as they can in four days. Previous items have included a live elephant on campus and an edible cookbook with pages that tasted like their recipes. One year, a team even managed to build a working nuclear reactor.

6. High Standards for Standardized Testing

According to data supplied by the College Board, the University of Chicago ranks second in average SAT scores, at 1515/1600 for the critical reading and math sections. Meanwhile, the average UChicago ACT score is 33.5. Luckily for those put off by standardized testing, this is just one piece of a much larger puzzle.