How to Get into University of Chicago with Average Grades

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

University of Chicago campus

How to Get into University of Chicago with Average Grades

For high school students who are looking to get into the most competitive undergraduate programs in the world, it is often perceived that it is impossible to do without an incredible high school grade point average. Learn “how to get into the University of Chicago with average grades?”.

While that is true for the most part, it does not mean that getting into top schools like the University of Chicago, such as the University of Chicago, with relatively average grades is not impossible.

And if you are wondering how to get into the University of Chicago with average grades, then you have absolutely come to the right place!

At AdmissionSight, we make it our top priority to help the high school students that we work with every application cycle to help them overcome any weaknesses in their application profile and shine lights on all of the strengths in order to improve these students’ chances of getting into the school of their dreams.

The UChicago signage

When it comes to the University of Chicago, specifically, though it is not in the Ivy League, UChicago is an incredibly competitive and prestigious school and is often considered amongst the hardest Ivy League to get into.

So, if you have an interest in applying to the University of Chicago but are worried about what your high school grade point average currently is, or is projected to be by the time you apply to UChicago,

So, if you are curious about what the expectations that the admissions committee has for applicants at the University of Chicago, how this school compares to the easiest ivy league to get into or hardest ivy league to get into, or simply how to get into the University of Chicago with average grades, then you have absolutely come to the right place!

Let’s break down all the answers to these questions and more together.

Let’s get started!

University of Chicago admission requirements

In the United States, there are different perceived tiers of private and public universities and colleges that students can apply to from all over the world. For schools like the University of Chicago, which is absolutely within the top 10 of the most prestigious schools in the United States, it is typical that only the most impressive and accomplished students are able to get accepted.

This means so much more than simply getting great grades in high school. And while great grades alone are typically not enough on their own for students who want to get into top schools, low grades can absolutely be enough to keep a student out of such schools.

Aerial view of UChicago at day time.

In fact, for a lot of students, a great grade point average is often something of a requirement in order to get into UChicago. That is especially true considering the incredibly high average grade point average that high school students earned before going on to get accepted by the University of Chicago. In fact, it’s one of the highest average GPAs 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.

Not only that, but students who end up getting into UChicago are also enrolling in advanced courses such as AP and IB courses. How do we know this? The 4.48 average GPA actually gives us all of the information that we need.

The reason for this is because an average 4.48 average GPA indicates that students are taking advanced courses that are graded on a weighted scale out of 5.0 instead of the typical scale out of 4.0. The fact that the average GPA is a 4.48 makes it clear that students are not just taking many of these advanced courses, but are also doing incredibly well within them.

Why is taking advanced courses so important for high school students that are interested in applying to competitive courses? The main reason is because of the difficulty of these high school courses. Basically, schools like the University of Chicago are known for only offering the most challenging and competitive academic environments.

Often, classes are taught by some of the most impactful voices in their respective fields to students who hope to go on to incredible things in the areas of study that they are interested in. For that reason, these schools 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.

Basically, a student who is able to do well in advanced courses will put themselves in a better position to get into a top school because they will prove to the admissions committees at those schools that they can succeed in challenging courses!

So, the admissions officers at UChicago will absolutely look for advanced courses being on your high school curriculum. Beyond that, those admissions officers will also want to see the following courses on an applicant’s high school course list:

  • 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)

Remember, even if you do take these kinds of courses and advanced courses to boot, you will have a fairly difficult time getting into UChicago if you have average grades. Despite that, this is all very important information for any student who is interested in getting into UChicago to know!

Beyond the average GPA of 4.48 that students that get accepted into UChicago earn, it is also important that students that are interested in getting into this school know what the average standardized test scores are at this school as well!

For the SAT, the average score for students that get into UChicago is between a 1510 and a 1560 out of the perfect score of 1600.

For the ACT, the average score for students that get into UChicago is between a 33 and a 35 out of the perfect score of 36.

Those are incredibly high scores! And now that know these key numbers, the average GPA, average SAT and average ACT scores, here are some other admissions expectations that the committee at UChicago upholds:

Admissions officers a UChicago 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

University of Chicago’s acceptance rate

When it comes to the University of Chicago, a student with “average” grades may still be a student that is at the very top of their class in high school. As you now know, the average GPA for students that do get into this school is an incredibly high 4.48! Even from just knowing that on its own, you probably can ascertain that the acceptance rate, which is the number of students that get into a school versus the number of students that apply in total in a given year, is incredibly low.

Regenstein Library in UChicago

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!

In fact, if you are interested in how UChicago compares to the easiest Ivy League to get into or the hardest Ivy League to get into, take a look at the acceptance rates from all eight schools below:

As you can see, UChicago’s acceptance rate is within range of all of the acceptance rates at the Ivy League. All of these schools have acceptance rates below 10.0 percent and all of these schools are fantastic options for students.

If you are worried that you may have average grades amongst students interested in applying to these types of schools and want to know more about getting into UChicago with average grades, let’s wrap this up by discussing some ways that any student can improve their chances of getting into the schools of their dreams.

How to improve your chances of getting into the University of Chicago

If you are a student interested in gaining admission to the University of Chicago, then you have to know that having average grades is not going to help your case. Without doubt, the vast majority of students who do end up getting accepted by UChicago or Ivy League schools have incredible grades!

Students in a study group

But that does not mean that having an average GPA by the standards of these schools means that your application will automatically be placed at the bottom of the list. There are absolutely certain things that an applying student can do to improve their chances of being able to say, “I got into the University of Chicago with bad grades.”

Discuss your academic challenges in your personal statement or essays

Some students who are applying to top schools may feel the urge to swipe their average high school GPA under the rug and simply hope that the admissions committee at UChicago overlooks it as a result. That will, however, never be the case. It is always important to be realistic and know that admissions officers will always look at your GPA. In fact, it is likely to be the first thing that they look at.

For that reason, it is important that you face the issue head on and actually acknowledge your grades. This strategy will be especially useful if your overall GPA suffered because of a specific semester or year in which you struggled and if that struggling was somewhat due to an unexpected life event. If your family was going through a tough time, if you moved schools, or if you responded poorly to the changes brought on by COVID-19.

Taking responsibility and being aware of the hardships you faced and admitting that you could have responded better to them as a young person and student will show an amazing amount of humility and maturity and could very likely impress the admissions officers looking over your application.

Crush the standardized test

While the University of Chicago does have a standardized test optional policy, there is no doubt that thousands of students each year still send in either an SAT or ACT score as part of their application to the University of Chicago. The reason for this is because a great score only improves a student’s chances of getting in as it gives admissions officers even more proof that a student is an academic fit at the incredibly competitive school.

For students who do not have the most impressive grade point averages, sending in a top SAT or ACT score should be considered an absolute necessity if they want to get into the school. Years ago, it was believed that a great standardized test score could completely override a high school grade point average, as an SAT or ACT score that was in the 99th percentile was seen as more objective proof of a student’s academic intelligence.

Though that is no longer the case, there is no doubt that a great score will help prove to admissions officers that you have what it takes to succeed at UChicago even if your high school grade point average has a few decimal points missing.

Get great letters of recommendation from your teachers

The application at UChicago requires every student to send in two separate letters of recommendation from two different faculty members at their high school. These letters allow the teachers to talk about what kind student and person the applicant is. Teachers are encouraged to write about how the student succeeded in the classroom, how they overcame obstacles, and how they helped lead and encourage within the classroom.

a person taking a math test

If a student is looking to get into a top school with an average GPA, these letters of recommendation should also help by discussing and explaining the academic struggles. Moreover, the teacher can help by explaining why they are confident a student will succeed in undergrad despite the less-than-impressive high school GPA.

Apply via early admissions

At UChicago, students have the option to apply via Early Action, Early Decision I and Early Decision II. All of these options have different application deadlines and reply dates. When it comes to students who want to give themselves the best chance possible of getting into UChicago thanks to their application status should utilize Early Decision I.

This is a binding agreement that means students know that if they end up getting in after applying this way, they must rescind any other applications to other schools and enroll at UChicago.

Typically, students who apply to top schools in this way enjoy a much more favorable acceptance rate compared to the school’s overall acceptance rate, and it is believed that approximately 80 percent of students accepted to UChicago are students that apply via Early Decision.

We can help you improve your chances of getting into the University of Chicago

No one said it would be easy, but if you are determined to get into UChicago despite an average high school GPA, it is certainly possible. AdmissionSIght can help. Contact us today to set up a free consultation so we break down what we will do for you to improve your chances of getting into this fantastic institution.




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