University of Chicago Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

January 20, 2022
By AdmissionSight

University of Chicago Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

For students who are interested in applying to some of the most competitive and prestigious undergraduate programs in the United States, making sure that you ace your college application is a big part of the process and that involves knowing the University of Chicago’s Mistakes to Avoid at all costs.

After all, each and every year high school students apply to schools like the University of Chicago by the thousands. So, if you are wondering about any University of Chicago application mistakes that you should make sure to avoid when you start crafting your college application, then you have come to the right place.

At AdmissionSight, we work with high school students from all over the world to help them get into Ivy League schools like Harvard and Princeton, or other top ten undergraduate programs across the United States like the University of Chicago, Stanford, MIT, and more.

Aerial view of the University of Chicago.

For that reason, we know just how crucial the application itself can be when it becomes time for college admissions officers at prestigious schools to make decisions about which students will end up getting in, in which students will sadly see their applications rejected.

So, if you are a freshman who is just getting started in their own high school journey or an entering Senior High School student who has already started preparing their documents for their college applications, you have come to the right place to learn more about how to avoid making a mistake on your University of Chicago application.

University of Chicago admissions basics

Before we get started on breaking down the University of Chicago application mistakes that you’ll want to avoid, we thought that it would be very helpful to first dive into some of the basic facts regarding the University of Chicago and the high school students that end up getting into this school every application cycle.

For starters, let’s dive into some of the courses that high school students should make sure to show up on their high school course list to prove to the admissions officers at the university that they challenge themselves throughout high school and put a strong emphasis on learning and exploring their academic interests.

While the University of Chicago does not have a list of required courses that a high school student has to take in order to be eligible to get in, there is no doubt that admissions officers at this school, and similarly prestigious and competitive schools, look for this kind of basic 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)

On top of this basic breakdown, high school students should also make a major point to enroll in as many advanced courses – such as AP or IB – as possible throughout their high school years. The reason why enrolling in such courses can prove to be so beneficial to high school students looking to get into top universities is twofold:

  • First, AP and IB courses come with weighted GPAs, which gives students the opportunity to drastically improve their overall grade point average in high school.
  • Secondly, AP and IB courses are structured in a way that is similar to that of an introductory undergraduate course. Moreover, the difficulty level of the subject matter, as well as the competitive nature of many AP and IB courses, do a good job of replicating the college classroom experience. For that reason, if a high school student is able to succeed and earn an impressive grade in an AP or IB course, admissions officers at schools like the University of Chicago can feel quite confident that such a student would also succeed if accepted into that school.

As a general tip, high school students who are interested in enrolling in AP and IB courses in high school should do so as early as possible. Typically, these kinds of courses become available to students during their sophomore years of high school.

A male student sitting on the windowsill in library and reading book.

The reason for this is because it then gives students the chance to not be overloaded with highly difficult courses, improving the chances that they score great grades in every class that they are enrolled in. On top of that, students should make it a priority to enroll in advanced courses that deal with subjects that they are either naturally adept at or particularly interested in.

When it comes to the average grade point average of high school students that get into the University of Chicago, that number he’s actually amongst the highest average GPAs that AdmissionSight has identified. Currently, the average GPA for high school students that ultimately are accepted to the University of Chicago is a highly impressive 4.48. That is quite a bit higher than the average GPAs for accepted students at schools like Harvard, Yale, Stanford and even MIT.

From that alone, you can get a pretty good idea of just how difficult it is to get into this school.

The final thing that we want to go over in this quick breakdown of UChicago admissions fact is the acceptance rate at the University of Chicago. Of course, acceptance rates at schools change from year to year.

However, knowing the current acceptance rate can prepare you for what is likely to come in the following years, as these acceptance rates typically only change by a few decimal points at most from one year to the next.

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.

University of Chicago Application mistakes to avoid

Now that you know the very basic facts regarding the University of Chicago admissions situation and University of Chicago application mistakes, let’s get started on breaking down the application mistakes that any high school student interested in getting into the University of Chicago should avoid at all costs.

Let’s get started!

Overthinking the entire process

One of the most damaging things that a person can do when they are applying to top undergraduate programs is to overthink the entire process. While it is of course very important for students to keep things realistic in terms of the schools that they are applying to, they must also remember to trust the process that led them to this moment.

Taking a look at your grades, extracurriculars, standardized test scores and more should give you a very good basic understanding of what kind of schools you can expect to get into when you do ultimately start to apply.

A man in his room overthinking while looking up.

Whether working with your high school counselor or deciding to work with an admissions consultant like AdmissionSight, you should be able to make a fantastic list of target schools that you have a chance of getting into.

Breaking down your list into three portions of reach/dream schools, realistic schools, and safety schools is wide; you should also make sure to commit the most time and energy into the applications to the schools that you can really see yourself going to. Overthinking this process and second-guessing yourself will only make the process more stressful and more difficult.

Instead of overthinking this important process, students should simply trust the facts that they have garnered and trust their guts in terms of what school they think they would be happiest at.

Overlooking the specific instructions related to the application

Though the application process at the vast majority of schools is fairly similar from one school to another, it is important to keep in mind that there are some specific differences as well. Whether you are planning on applying to three to four schools or five to eight schools, you need to make sure that you are not overlooking these specific instructions.

Sadly, some high school students who lack the necessary guidance during this process make the improper assumption that every application they fill out is going to be exactly the same. While this may be the case for schools that require only the Coalition Application or Common Application, it is also really important to keep in mind which schools ask for supplemental information and documents as part of their completed application.

For that reason, the very first thing that any high school student should do when filling out the applications to the schools that they want to get into is read through the instructions in their entirety.

Make sure that if you have any questions about what is expected of you, you speak with someone with knowledge and experience in this matter.

Again, that can be either your high school counselor, your admissions consultant, students who you know who are already at the schools that you plan on targeting, or even a peer, teacher, or parent that can help clarify the instructions as they are presented.

Making your application too long

This is an important thing to keep in mind not only for the college application process but really for any application that you will fill out throughout your life.

Making your application too long will not only make it harder for the admissions officers to review the important information that is within your application, but it will also signify that you may lack the maturity to really identify and pare down what you think is most important about yourself.

Woman's hands typing on a laptop.

Before you make a point to list each and every extracurricular activity that you took part in during high school or mention every single competition or award you received during her four years in high school, take the time to truly identify the ones that are most important and that make you look the best.

This may mean leaving out lesser accomplishments, or it may simply mean accentuating the accomplishments that you believe align most with the school you are applying to or the academic program that you are hoping to get accepted into.

For example, if you want to attend the University of Chicago as an engineering student, focusing primarily on the aspects of your application that are related to the field of engineering will give you the best chance of getting in.

Not applying via Early Decision

Remember when we broke down the fact that the acceptance rate at the University of Chicago for the 2021 application cycle was just 6.3 percent? Well, that was the overall acceptance rate at the school. However, as we mentioned, it is important to remember that the University of Chicago offers a binding Early Decision application option as well.

What does this mean? Essentially, it means that students who know that the University of Chicago is their number one choice of schools that they want to attend above all other schools that they plan on applying to, can send their application in early, improve their chances of getting in from a statistical standpoint, and offer a clear sign to the admissions officers at the school that the University of Chicago is their number one choice all in one simple action. That action is applied via Early Decision.

While UChicago does not actually publish the acceptance rates for Early Decision students, similarly selective schools – such as the Ivy League schools – do. Typically, the acceptance rates for students that apply via Early Decision improve anywhere by 1.5x to 2X compared to the school’s overall acceptance rate. From that information, we can assume that the acceptance rate for students that apply via Early Decision hovers somewhere around 9.0 percent and 12.0 percent!

Remember, because UChicago’s Early Decision application option is binding, it means that if you do end up getting in, you will be expected to withdraw your applications to other schools and enroll at the University of Chicago.

So, it is really important to make sure that UChicago is your top option if you plan on going down this route. If you know that it is, you can seriously boost your chances of getting in by applying via Early Decision.

Submitting your application essays without doing major proofreading and edits

One major mistake on your University of Chicago application could be sending in your completed application without proofreading, editing, and improving your personal essays. Believe it or not, the essay portion of the college application process in the United States has gained increasing importance and value over recent years.

That is especially true in the current state of things, as many schools have decided to adopt a standardized test-optional policy. Now that students no longer have to include either an ACT or SAT score as part of their application, admissions officers are putting an increased value on the personal essay section along with all of the other remaining required sections of the application.

Two pens sitting at the top of papers being proofread.

Taking the time necessary to come up with the very best answers and topics for your personal essays is one very important part of the process. Doing the work after you have written your first draft of your essays is perhaps even more important.

Go through all of your essays with a fine-tooth comb to identify any grammar or spelling errors or simply other aspects of your answers that you could improve. Doing so with a peer or parent or with your admissions consultant could prove highly beneficial when it comes to making sure that you are submitting the very best representation of yourself in these essays.

Finally, you will want to make sure after you have written your essays that you once again look at the essay questions and prompts themselves and make sure that you have effectively and comprehensively answered every question that has been provided to you,

Get more Stanford admission advice.

As you now know, there are a lot of different mistakes that high school students could make when filling out their applications to college. At AdmissionSIght, we make it our number one priority to make sure that all of the students that we work with not only avoid these mistakes but also send in fantastically crafted applications.

That’s just one of the reasons why we boast an impressive 75 percent acceptance rate to schools like Stanford, Ivy League schools, and other top ten schools in the country. If you’re interested in how we help our students succeed, contact us today for a free consultation.



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