The Uncomon Blog

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We're trying something a little new at the Uncommon Blog, interviews with people on campus involved in the kind of things prospective students might be interested in.

A cappella at the University of Chicago is a world unto itself. A crazy, collaborative and very, very loud world.

Interestingly enough, the University often seems to be divided into two groups: those who are actively involved in singing a cappella and those who obligingly listen to their friends belt out pop classics in the library and dutifully smile at the ridiculous concert promotional materials plastering campus from weeks five to nine of every quarter.

When I was growing up, I always knew that I wanted to become a doctor. Now that I’m a college student, I’m one step closer to realizing that goal through UChicago’s pre-med program. The pre-med program at Chicago is different from other schools. UChicago students are not “pre-med” majors--”pre-med” just describes the set of math and science classes that students need to take to apply to medical school.

“Oh you’re from Brooklyn? Cool! Why would you ever leave New York?” I have gotten this question in many different iterations over the course of my four years at the University of Chicago. ‘Honestly,’ I tell them, ‘I was looking for a warmer climate.’
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If you’ve heard one example of the University of Chicago’s anything-goes atmosphere or offbeat student body, it was probably our world famous (and world’s largest) Scavenger Hunt, an annual tradition since 1987.

So, how do you feel about Wednesdays?

I’m betting that’s not a question you get asked frequently. It is, however, a past application essay question for the University of Chicago—one of many we’ve amassed in the years we’ve asked “uncommon” questions. Much like your feelings on Wednesdays, we bet you aren’t also often asked about your Ph, your thoughts on odd numbers, or why you’re here and not somewhere else. And, hint: that’s kind of why we’re asking you.

It was December, nearing the end of our first quarter at UChicago, when two of my best friends and I decided to go downtown on a Friday evening. I have to admit, though, I was taken aback when I realized one of my friends—a native of southern California—had never experienced one particular aspect of winter before we were standing on the Metra platform, waiting for the train to take us to the Loop.

When I first came to UChicago, “human rights” was an abstract concept that had been floating around in my mind for several years. I had heard the term mentioned once or twice in high school while discussing slavery or war crimes, but it had never been addressed as a stand-alone concept. This unsatisfying vagueness is part of what initially drew me to the Human Rights program at UChicago. The program provides a critical exploration of historical, theoretical, and comparative perspectives on human rights.

I left London as I entered it, in the hushed morning dark of a chilly Friday, the daily bustle just starting to build as I moved through the awakening streets. There was less wonderment this time. This city, once unknown, was now, if not completely, at least somewhat familiar. I learned London piecemeal, borough-by-borough, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, streets once disparate slowly beginning to weave together.

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