Am I Good Enough for University of Chicago

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Signage of the University of Chicago name at the entrance of the school.

Am I Good Enough for University of Chicago

Though many of the top high school students in the world look to either the East Coast or West Coast of the United States when they are applying to the top schools in the United States, one of the most prestigious and selective schools in the world calls the city of Chicago home.

Of course, we are referring to the incredible University of Chicago, and if you are interested in applying to this top-tier school, you are likely asking yourself, “Am I good enough for University of Chicago?”

At AdmissionSight, we make it our number one priority every single year to help some of the most dedicated and accomplished high school students get into the schools of their dreams. Those schools often include Harvard University, Stanford University and the University of Chicago.

Aerial view of the University of Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park.

When it comes to beating the chances of getting into University of Chicago – and similarly selective schools – no student can truly guarantee that they will get in. No matter how fantastic your GPA is, how high your standardized test scores are, and how impressive your accomplishments in high school were, you will always be competing with students who are just as, if not more, impressive on paper.

So, what can you do to prove that you belong? It turns out there are quite a lot of things actually. Both throughout your high school years and during the application process itself, any high school student can make certain decisions and take certain steps to make sure that the answer to the question, “Am I good enough for University of Chicago?” turns out to be a resounding “Yes!”

Let’s start breaking down everything that you should be considering together so that you can prepare for the day that you send in your application to UChicago.

University of Chicago’s admissions requirements

When it comes to getting into the kind of school that only really accepts the very best students that the world has to offer, the conversation is always going to begin with your academics.

While fantastic grades and an impressive and challenging high school curriculum is never going to be the sole thing that gets a student into a school like UChicago, lackluster grades and a high school course load that is devoid of challenging and advanced courses can certainly be enough to keep a high school student out.

A female student looking back while standing on stairs in school.

In many ways, a student’s GPA in high school can be seen as something of a prerequisite to get into any top 10 schools. So what are the grades that students that are interested in getting into the University of Chicago should aim for and what kinds of classes should those students be taking throughout high school? We are glad you asked.

While the average GPA of accepted students is going to change slightly from year to year, looking at the recent past is a great indicator that you can use when preparing for the future. Based on the number related to the University of Chicago, the average GPA of students that get in is – truly – one of the highest that we have seen.

The average GPA for students that do get into the school is an incredibly high 4.48! That puts the average GPA at this school higher than Yale, Harvard, and even MIT. From that fact alone, you should be able to glean that the University of Chicago is truly only accepting the best of the best.

For some students whose dream school is U of C, their safety schools may honestly be some of the most prestigious in the world. It’s a little hard to wrap your head around that fact, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

But back to that average GPA. One really important thing that you should take away from that number is that the vast majority of students that are getting into UChicago are going to be students that are loading up their high school course load with honors, AP, and IB courses.

How do we know that? It is those advanced classes that allow students to earn GPAs better than the traditional straight-A GPA of 4.0. That’s because honors, AP, and IB courses are graded on a weighted 5.0 scale.

Moreover, while the University of Chicago does not have a list of required courses that students have to take in order to be able to apply, the school itself sets out a very clear recommendation of the kinds of classes that they look for on a high school student’s transcript.

The school makes it clear that it wants students to “seek out courses that will enrich and challenge you, rather than worry about how they will look to a college application reader.” The courses that UChicago recommends for students that are interested in getting in are as follows:

  • 4 years of English
  • 3–4 years of math (through pre-calculus recommended)
  • 3–4 years of laboratory sciences
  • 3 or more years of social sciences
  • Foreign language study (2–3 years recommended)

Before we move on to other aspects of the University of Chicago expectations and requirements, there is one final thing that is important to mention about the necessity to take advanced courses during high school. While it might just seem like a way for schools to separate students and put them into tiers, there is actually a very pragmatic way to look at it.

Essentially, schools like the University of Chicago offer only the most rigorous and demanding courses that require students to have clear strategies when it comes to learning, retaining information, excelling in coursework, and succeeding when taking midterms and final exams.

One of the very best ways for admissions officers to determine whether or not a student has obtained those skills in high school is to look at how they performed in advanced courses like honors, AP and IB.

The last thing an admissions officer at University of Chicago wants to do is accept a student that does not have the skills that he or she needs in order to succeed once they arrive on campus. While there is no way to 100-percent guarantee that a student will be able to achieve their goals while in college, looking back and seeing what they did in high school is one of the best indications that admissions officers have at their disposal.

So, when asking yourself, “Am I good enough for University of Chicago?” think about the kinds of classes that you are taking or did take during your years in high school. If you took lots of different advanced courses that covered subjects that you were passionate about and interested in and managed to score high grades in those courses, then chances are good that you are well on your way to a positive result.

University of Chicago’s acceptance rate

The final thing that we can mention before we move onto other important facts and tips regarding applying and getting into U of Chicago is the school’s acceptance rate. Just like with average GPA, it is important to recognize that these acceptance rates vary year to year. It is also important to know that, historically, the top schools all have acceptance rates that have been on a downward trajectory for much of the last decade. These days, it’s pretty rare to find a school in the top 25 that has an acceptance rate much higher than 10 percent.

That fact absolutely applies to the University of Chicago.

In the 2021 application cycle, the school reported that a total of 37,986 students applied to the school. Of those, just 2,408 were ultimately accepted for an acceptance rate of 6.3 percent. That puts the school on par with many of the schools within the Ivy League!

It is important to mention here that this school does offer a binding Early Decision admission option. This means that if a student knows that the University of Chicago is their clear number one choice, they can express that and send in their application early to boost their chances of admission.

While U of Chicago is one of the few schools that do not actually report their Early Decision acceptance rate, we can deduce that it is quite a bit higher than that 6.3 percent acceptance rate.

In fact, even some of the most selective schools have early admissions acceptance rates that more than double their regular admissions acceptance rates. Certainly something to keep in mind if U of C is your dream school.

What we know about the University of Chicago’s “ideal” student

One big way that high school students can get a good idea of their chances of getting into University of Chicago is to learn about the specific kinds of things that they look for in the students that they accept. To help with that, we have done some digging into learning the basics about what the school considers an “ideal” student.

So let’s get into it.

Essentially, UChicago is looking for students that are both academically well-rounded and offer an interesting and unique perspective on the work. The best way to prove that first part is obvious, in fact we’ve spent the majority of this piece breaking down what students will want to accomplish from an academic standpoint to boost the chances of getting into University of Chicago.

In regard to the second part, the best way that students can prove their interests, experiences and perspective is to invest heavily in extracurricular activities that they are passionate about throughout their high school years. To be clear, there are no kinds of extracurriculars that schools like UChicago are going to value more than the other. The prime thing to prioritize when choosing your extracurriculars is that they are teams, groups, or interests that you see yourself sticking with for the long haul.

Admissions officers at schools like UChicago want to see that you remained committed, expanded your passions and made an impact. Achieving roles of leadership in these groups that you are a part of will also make it clear to the admissions officers that you are the kind of person that has leadership qualities and has a positive impact on those around you.

Furthermore, admissions officers the school evaluate all applicants in three distinct categories:

  • Academics
  • Extracurriculars
  • Intellectual fit

The applicants with the highest academic ratings are going to have the following credentials:

  • They’re in the top 5 percent of their high school class
  • They took a challenging course load with many AP courses
  • Their SAT/ACT and SAT II scores are in the 99th percentile

An applicant that has an academic rating of 3 out of 6 would have the following credentials:

  • They’re in the top 15 percent of their high school class
  • They took a fair amount of challenging courses and took AP courses in key content areas
  • They scored approximately a 700 on each section of the SAT or a 30 overall score on the ACT

In terms of their extracurriculars, here are the percentages of the kinds of activities and groups that students that ended up getting into UChicago took part in during high school. Remember, these are not mutually exclusive and many applicants who ended up getting in certainly took part in several of the following:

  • 81 percent were involved in community services
  • 53 percent were involved in varsity athletics
  • 44 percent were involved in music
  • 31 percent were involved in student government
  • 26 percent were involved in their school’s paper
  • 17 percent were involved in theater
  • 12 percent were involved in religious organizations

As you can see, there is a wide array of different kinds of activities that students that ended up getting into UChicago took part in. While these should not be considered the only types of extracurriculars to target, this should certainly offer a bit of a roadmap that you can follow to narrow down your options.

How to improve your chances of getting into University of Chicago

Now that you know a lot more about the kinds of students that tend to get into UChicago, you may be curious about what kinds of tips there are that students should keep in mind as they prepare to apply.

Though the acceptance rate is certainly low, there are some really impactful things that any student can do to give their application the boost it may need to take a student from an iffy applicant to a truly fantastic one. Here are the primary tips to keep in mind.

Apply via Early Decision

We already touched on this briefly, but it is so potentially impactful that we thought we would spend a little more time on the option to apply via Early Decision to University of Chicago. True, the school does not report the acceptance rate for students that do apply via Early Decision, but by looking at the differences in acceptance rates at comparable schools, we can ascertain what U of C’s acceptance rate most likely is.

Look at the graph below to get a good idea of the differences in acceptance rate for students that apply to the eight Ivies via regular admissions versus early admissions.

Those differences should show how impactful this choice can be. Just make sure that you will be more than happy to attend UChicago if you do end up getting in because Early Decision is binding at UChicago!

Earn wonderful letters of recommendation

To apply to UChicago, students have to send in two letters of recommendation from two different teachers at their high school. To ensure that these letters are as positive and impactful as they truly can be, you should make a priority to form strong and positive relationships with the faculty at your school.

In their letters, they should be able to accurately describe why you’d make a great addition to the community on campus. Make sure to ask them well ahead of time so that they can have the time and energy that they need to write as great a letter as you deserve!

Craft unique personal essays

Finally, students will need to fill out the essay offered to you in either the Common Application or Coalition Application as well as the two University of Chicago supplemental essays. These essays can play a major role in helping a student push their application over the top, so make sure to write from the heart, and prove that your experience and point of view is unique.

A man writing on his notebook with a laptop in front of him.

To be clear, this does not mean that you have to explain why and how your experience in life is unique. In fact, the simple truth for many students is that their life experience is not that unique. Instead, find a way to answer the questions provided that prove your unique point of view. Sometimes, the best essay a student can write is one that takes a look at the mundane in an extraordinary way. Keep that in mind when you begin crafting, editing and improving your essays before you send them in.

Will you get into the University of Chicago?

At AdmissionSight, we make it our top goal to help the students that we work with get into the top schools. It’s why we are so proud of the fact that 75 percent of the students that we work with get into either Ivy League schools or other top-10 schools around the U.S., like UChicago. If you are interested in learning about how we can help you achieve your college admissions goals, contact us today to set up a free consultation.

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