College of the University of Chicago

College of the University of Chicago

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The College is the sole undergraduate institution and one of the oldest components of the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

, emerging contemporaneously with the university at large in 1892. Instruction is provided by faculty across all graduate divisions and schools for its 5100 students; however, the college retains a select group of young, proprietary scholars who cater to its core curriculum offerings. Unlike many major American research universities, the college is small in comparison to the universities' graduate divisions in aggregate, with graduate students outnumbering undergraduates at a 2:1 ratio. The college is most notable for its core curriculum
Core Curriculum
The Core Curriculum was originally developed as the main curriculum used by Columbia University's Columbia College. It began in 1919 with "Contemporary Civilization," about the origins of western civilization. It became the framework for many similar educational models throughout the United States...

 pioneered by Robert Maynard Hutchins, which remains the most expansive amongst highly ranked American colleges, as well as its emphasis on preparing students for continued graduate study (sending on the highest percentage within five years to graduate school save the Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins University, commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins, is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States...


Reputation and admissions

For 2011, The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

 has ranked the University of Chicago the fourth best institution of higher learning in the United States, after Harvard, MIT, and Yale, and eighth in the world as a whole. For 2012,U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report is an American news magazine published from Washington, D.C. Along with Time and Newsweek it was for many years a leading news weekly, focusing more than its counterparts on political, economic, health and education stories...

ranks the University of Chicago at fifth in the nation for undergraduate education, tied with The California Institute of Technology, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

  and The University of Pennsylvania. In 2007 Princeton Review named the College as having the "Best Undergraduate Academic Experience" in the United States. For the most recent application cycle the school had the 11th highest SAT score band in the nation (1350–1530). The Princeton Review moreover finds in general that applicants to Chicago also simultaneously apply to Ivy League
Ivy League
The Ivy League is an athletic conference comprising eight private institutions of higher education in the Northeastern United States. The conference name is also commonly used to refer to those eight schools as a group...

 institutions and their associates.

In 2008, Forbes
Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, the Forbes magazine, is published biweekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published biweekly, and Business Week...

magazine ranked the University of Chicago's undergraduate program the 4th best in the country under Harvard
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, Yale
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, and Princeton
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 based on post-graduation achievements and student evaluations. In 2008, Forbes also named the University of Chicago a "billionaire
A billionaire, in countries that use the short scale number naming system, is a person who has a net worth of at least one billion units of a given currency, usually the United States dollar, Euro, or Pound sterling. Forbes magazine updates a complete list of U.S. dollar billionaires around the...

 university," ranking the university as the 7th most successful university in the country for producing billionaire
A billionaire, in countries that use the short scale number naming system, is a person who has a net worth of at least one billion units of a given currency, usually the United States dollar, Euro, or Pound sterling. Forbes magazine updates a complete list of U.S. dollar billionaires around the...


In addition, College Crunch, an online college admissions resource, ranked the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 1st in the country among colleges and universities for its undergraduate college.

Until recently the school used a self-dubbed "uncommon application", and did not accept the more popular, nationalized common application for collegiate admissions that can be sent to multiple institutions. However, in 2009 the Common Application became the college's official application, along with a supplement in the spirit of the Uncommon Application. Its cornerstone is an essay that carries heavy weight in the decision making process according to current Dean of Admissions Jim Nondorf. Prompts for the piece have ranged from the bizarre, “Write an essay somehow inspired by super-huge mustard,” to esoteric quotes by famous individuals such as Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

 Master Shoitsu, posing as a prompt the statement (without any question), "mind that does not stick". Most recently, the essay prompt asked applicants to "Find X." In 2011 season, there was a question that references the Wikipedia game: "What does Play-Doh have to do with Plato?" The school's acceptance rate fell to a record low of 15.8% for the class of 2015 with use of the Common Application, after the school saw a 42% increase in applicants.


The college offers 52 majors (originally called 'concentrations,' but changed in 2004). A primary departmental or committee affiliation is denoted for those whose names differ from that of their field designation. A student is awarded either the A.B.
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 or S.B. degree. The college notably does not offer study in preprofessional areas such as engineering or finance; however, the school contends that students going on to graduate study in these fields often can select work in related areas such as physics or economics in order to receive adequate preparation within the liberal arts tradition. The college recently introduced minors in a select numbers of fields, and also offers several joint bachelors / masters programs to high performing students.

Core curriculum

The University of Chicago requires all undergraduates to fulfill the Common Core
Common core
The Common Core is the University of Chicago's implementation of the Great Books program for its college. These courses cover topics in the humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and sciences. It forms the general education requirements for the college and uses the Socratic method to teach...

, which demands work across all areas of the liberal arts for both A.B.
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 and B.S. concentrators, albeit in a form reduced from the Hutchins era. Currently, 15 courses are required in addition to tested foreign language proficiency (one year of de novo
De novo
In general usage, de novo is a Latin expression meaning "from the beginning," "afresh," "anew," "beginning again." It is used in:* De novo transcriptome assembly, the method of creating a transcriptome without a reference genome...

study being expected as preparation) if no Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate examinations are used for exemption (a reduction of six credits, or two full-time quarters, may be achieved via this method). While the science curriculum has largely followed the intellectual evolution of its respective fields, the requisite humanities and social science sequences now have several variants that encompass non-Western, non-canonical, and critical theory
Critical theory
Critical theory is an examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism...

 texts. This is a departure from the school’s traditional ties to texts of the European tradition such as Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 and Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

. While in totality the core curriculum’s goal is to impart an education that is both timeless and a vehicle for interdisciplinary debate, the increasing number of options to students within its confines produces a wide variety of backgrounds amongst graduates.


The College often publishes literature that emphasizes the “life of the mind,” drawing attention to the school’s serious academic environment. Alternatively, a popular phrase with students is “where fun comes to die,” describing the school's lack of a stereotypical college party culture.

Although Greek life is not predominant among the undergraduate population, there are many active fraternities and sororities
Fraternities and sororities
Fraternities and sororities are fraternal social organizations for undergraduate students. In Latin, the term refers mainly to such organizations at colleges and universities in the United States, although it is also applied to analogous European groups also known as corporations...

 that have established histories with the College, including Alpha Delta Phi
Alpha Delta Phi
Alpha Delta Phi is a Greek-letter social college fraternity and the fourth-oldest continuous Greek-letter fraternity in the United States and Canada. Alpha Delta Phi was founded on October 29, 1832 by Samuel Eells at Hamilton College and includes former U.S. Presidents, Chief Justices of the U.S....

, Alpha Epsilon Pi
Alpha Epsilon Pi
Alpha Epsilon Pi , the Global Jewish college fraternity, has 155 active chapters in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Israel with a membership of over 9,000 undergraduates...

, Alpha Phi Alpha
Alpha Phi Alpha
Alpha Phi Alpha is the first Inter-Collegiate Black Greek Letter fraternity. It was founded on December 4, 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Its founders are known as the "Seven Jewels". Alpha Phi Alpha developed a model that was used by the many Black Greek Letter Organizations ...

, Alpha Phi Omega
Alpha Phi Omega
Alpha Phi Omega is the largest collegiate fraternity in the United States, with chapters at over 350 campuses, an active membership of approximately 17,000 students, and over 350,000 alumni members...

, Delta Kappa Epsilon
Delta Kappa Epsilon
Delta Kappa Epsilon is a fraternity founded at Yale College in 1844 by 15 men of the sophomore class who had not been invited to join the two existing societies...

, Delta Upsilon
Delta Upsilon
Delta Upsilon is the sixth oldest international, all-male, college Greek-letter organization, and is the oldest non-secret fraternity in North America...

, Lambda Phi Epsilon
Lambda Phi Epsilon
Lambda Phi Epsilon is an internationally-recognized fraternity in the United States and Canada. With a total of 53 chapters, it is the largest Asian-interest fraternity in North America...

, Phi Delta Theta
Phi Delta Theta
Phi Delta Theta , also known as Phi Delt, is an international fraternity founded at Miami University in 1848 and headquartered in Oxford, Ohio. Phi Delta Theta, Beta Theta Pi, and Sigma Chi form the Miami Triad. The fraternity has about 169 active chapters and colonies in over 43 U.S...

, Phi Gamma Delta
Phi Gamma Delta
The international fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta is a collegiate social fraternity with 120 chapters and 18 colonies across the United States and Canada. It was founded at Jefferson College, Pennsylvania, in 1848, and its headquarters are located in Lexington, Kentucky, USA...

, Psi Upsilon
Psi Upsilon
Psi Upsilon is the fifth oldest college fraternity in the United States, founded at Union College in 1833. It has chapters at colleges and universities throughout North America. For most of its history, Psi Upsilon, like most social fraternities, limited its membership to men only...

, Sigma Chi
Sigma Chi
Sigma Chi is the largest and one of the oldest college Greek-letter secret and social fraternities in North America with 244 active chapters and more than . Sigma Chi was founded on June 28, 1855 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio when members split from Delta Kappa Epsilon...

, and Sigma Phi Epsilon
Sigma Phi Epsilon
Sigma Phi Epsilon , commonly nicknamed SigEp or SPE, is a social college fraternity for male college students in the United States. It was founded on November 1, 1901, at Richmond College , and its national headquarters remains in Richmond, Virginia. It was founded on three principles: Virtue,...

 fraternities, as well as Alpha Omicron Pi
Alpha Omicron Pi
Alpha Omicron Pi is an international women's fraternity promoting friendship for a lifetime, inspiring academic excellence and lifelong learning, and developing leadership skills through service to the Fraternity and community. ΑΟΠ was founded on January 2, 1897 at Barnard College on the campus...

, Delta Gamma
Delta Gamma
Delta Gamma is one of the oldest and largest women's fraternities in the United States and Canada, with its Executive Offices based in Columbus, Ohio.-History:...

, and Kappa Alpha Theta
Kappa Alpha Theta
Kappa Alpha Theta , also known as Theta, is an international fraternity for women founded on January 27, 1870 at DePauw University, formerly Indiana Asbury...

 sororities. During the school year, one or two of the fraternities will usually throw a house party on the weekend (with the exception of holidays and "finals week").


  • Summer Breeze - The university's annual summer carnival and concert. Past musicians who have performed at Summer Breeze include The Roots
    The Roots
    The Roots is an American hip hop/neo soul band formed in 1987 by Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They are famed for beginning with a jazzy, eclectic approach to hip hop which still includes live instrumentals...

    , Spoon
    Spoon (band)
    Spoon is an American rock band formed in Austin, Texas. The band is composed of Britt Daniel ; Jim Eno ; Rob Pope and Eric Harvey .-History:...

    , Wilco
    Wilco is an American alternative rock band based in Chicago, Illinois. The band was formed in 1994 by the remaining members of alternative country group Uncle Tupelo following singer Jay Farrar's departure. Wilco's lineup has changed frequently, with only singer Jeff Tweedy and bassist John...

    , Eminem
    Marshall Bruce Mathers III , better known by his stage name Eminem or his alter ego Slim Shady, is an American rapper, record producer, songwriter and actor. Eminem's popularity brought his group project, D12, to mainstream recognition...

    , Kanye West
    Kanye West
    Kanye Omari West is an American rapper, singer, and record producer. West first rose to fame as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records, where he eventually achieved recognition for his work on Jay-Z's album The Blueprint, as well as hit singles for musical artists including Alicia Keys, Ludacris, and...

    , Run–D.M.C., Cake
    Cake (band)
    Cake is an American alternative rock band from Sacramento, California. Consisting of singer John McCrea, trumpeter Vince DiFiore, guitarist Xan McCurdy, bassist Gabe Nelson and drummer Paulo Baldi, the band has been noted for McCrea's sarcastic lyrics and deadpan voice, DiFiore's trumpet parts, and...

    , Andrew Bird
    Andrew Bird
    Andrew Bird is an American musician, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist.- Early life and the Bowl of Fire :...

    , They Might Be Giants
    They Might Be Giants
    They Might Be Giants is an American alternative rock band formed in 1982 by John Flansburgh and John Linnell. During TMBG's early years Flansburgh and Linnell were frequently accompanied by a drum machine. In the early 1990s, TMBG became a full band. Currently, the members of TMBG are...

    , Method Man
    Method Man
    Clifford Smith , better known by his stage name Method Man is an American hip hop artist, record producer, actor and member of the hip hop collective Wu-Tang Clan. He took his stage name from the 1979 film The Fearless Young Boxer, also known as Method Man. He is one half of the rap duo Method Man...

    , Moby
    Richard Melville Hall , better known by his stage name Moby, is an American musician, DJ, and photographer. He is known mainly for his sample-based electronic music and his outspoken liberal political views, including his support of veganism and animal rights.Moby gained attention in the early...

    , Fuel
    Fuel (band)
    Fuel is an American rock band formed by guitarist/songwriter Carl Bell and bassist Jeff Abercrombie in 1989. Originally known as Small the Joy, they changed the group's name to Fuel sometime in 1994...

    , Nas
    Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, who performs under the name Nas , formerly Nasty Nas, is an American rapper and actor. He is regarded as one of the most important figures in hip hop and one of the most skilled and influential rappers of all-time...

    , Jurassic 5
    Jurassic 5
    Jurassic 5 was an American alternative hip hop group formed in 1993 from members of two previous groups, Rebels of Rhythm and Unity Committee by rappers Charles Stewart , Dante Givens , Courtenay Henderson , Marc Stuart , and disc jockeys Mark Potsic and Lucas Macfadden...

    , U2
    U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin. Formed in 1976, the group consists of Bono , The Edge , Adam Clayton , and Larry Mullen, Jr. . U2's early sound was rooted in post-punk but eventually grew to incorporate influences from many genres of popular music...

    , Miles Davis
    Miles Davis
    Miles Dewey Davis III was an American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz,...

    , Sonic Youth
    Sonic Youth
    Sonic Youth is an American alternative rock band from New York City, formed in 1981. The current lineup consists of Thurston Moore , Kim Gordon , Lee Ranaldo , Steve Shelley , and Mark Ibold .In their early career, Sonic Youth was associated with the No Wave art and music scene in New York City...

    , Talib Kweli
    Talib Kweli
    Talib Kweli Greene , better known as Talib Kweli, is an American hip-hop artist and poet from Brooklyn, New York. His first name in Arabic means "student" or "seeker" ; his in Swahili means "true"...

    , Violent Femmes
    Violent Femmes
    Violent Femmes were an American alternative rock band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, initially active between 1980 and 1987 and again from 1988 to 2009...

    , OK Go
    OK Go
    OK Go is a rock band originally from Chicago, Illinois, USA, now residing in Los Angeles, California, USA. The band is composed of Damian Kulash , Tim Nordwind , Dan Konopka and Andy Ross , who joined them in 2005, replacing Andy Duncan...

    , Mos Def
    Mos Def
    Dante Terrell Smith is an American actor and Emcee known by the stage names Mos Def and Yasiin Bey. He started his hip hop career in a group called Urban Thermo Dynamics, after which he appeared on albums by Da Bush Babees and De La Soul. With Talib Kweli, he formed the duo Black Star, which...

    , George Clinton
    George Clinton (funk musician)
    George Clinton is an American singer, songwriter, bandleader, and music producer and the principal architect of P-Funk. He was the mastermind of the bands Parliament and Funkadelic during the 1970s and early 1980s, and launched a solo career in 1981. He has been cited as one of the foremost...

    , and recently Santigold and Broken Social Scene
    Broken Social Scene
    Broken Social Scene is a Canadian indie rock band, a musical collective including as few as six and as many as nineteen members, formed in 1999 by Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. Most of its members currently play in various other groups and solo projects, mainly based around the city of Toronto...

  • One-Dollar Shake Day - Milkshakes sell for only one dollar every Wednesday at the Reynolds Club. The Einstein Bros. Bagels
    Einstein Bros. Bagels
    Einstein Bros. Bagels is a bagel and coffee chain in the United States. As of 2010, there were 587 restaurants with the Einstein Bros. name.Einstein Bros. was created by a chain restaurant corporation, Boston Chicken in 1995, as a way to market breakfast foods...

     franchise was allowed to open on campus only after agreeing to adhere to this tradition.
  • Midnight Breakfast - A midnight breakfast
    Midnight breakfast
    Midnight breakfast is a generic term for a communal meal served at some American colleges and universities. Menu items that are generally considered breakfast foods are served in the school's dining hall late at night as a study break before or during final exams, or as a traditional...

     is held during every "finals week" of the academic year, attracting students and faculty members alike.
  • Track Team Streak - Before "finals week" of the winter quarter, the University of Chicago track and cross country team streaks through the Regenstein Library.
  • O-Week - Every year since 1934, the University of Chicago has set time aside before classes begin to provide an introduction to the University for all new students.
  • Lascivious Costume Ball - This event took place during the 1970–1984 period, and was a student-organized replacement of the Washington Promenade, a formal dance held in the winter since 1903, which annually crowned a Miss University of Chicago. Students would pay no fee if they came and uncloaked in the nude, a half-fee for wearing an appropriately lascivious (in the eyes of the students running the ball) costume, and full fee for remaining in "street clothes". The event was held in Ida Noyes Hall. It was formerly called the Sex Anarchy Party. This event was reinstated in November 2008, instituted by the HYPE student organization, though exposed genitalia were no longer allowed.
  • Sleepout - Prior to 1993, undergraduate students would "sleep out" for classes with limited enrollment. The order of registration for classes was on a lottery basis, but in order for a student to keep his or her lottery number and avoid being reassigned to the end of the list, the student was required to physically remain on the campus quadrangle and present himself or herself at roll calls which were randomly and abruptly announced over the next few days. As a result, students would bring sleeping bags and tents and camp out on the quadrangle. Fraternities, sororities and other student groups would provide music and food
    Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals...

    , creating a festival atmosphere. The event terminated in 1993 when registration procedures changed.
  • Kuviasungnerk/Kangeiko - A week-long festival celebrating Chicago in the winter. Often referred to as Kuvia, it entails a variety of events, including ice sculpting, hot chocolate get-togethers, musical performances, faculty fireside discussions, and a rigorous program of early morning exercise (kangeiko, a Japanese tradition of winter training) that culminates in a yoga-influenced "salute to the sun", performed outdoors in freezing temperatures just before the sun rises. Kuviasungnerk/Kangeiko culminates in the Polar Bear Run on the Friday of the week, in which participants run, preferably naked or semi-naked, from one end of the main quad (Harper building) to the gates across from the Regenstein Library.
  • The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate - Annually since 1946, a debate is held, mainly between faculty members, not (but nearly) all of whom are Jewish, about the relative merits of latkes and hamantashn, the Jewish delicacies associated with Hanukkah
    Hanukkah , also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE...

     and Purim
    Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction in the wake of a plot by Haman, a story recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther .Purim is celebrated annually according to the Hebrew calendar on the 14th...

    , respectively. The lectures provide an opportunity for ordinarily serious scholars to crack jokes in a mock-serious tone. The best were collected in a book edited by Ruth Fredman Cernea.
  • Virginio Ferrari's Dialogo and May Day. On May Day, students and residents of Hyde Park assemble near Pick Hall to watch the shadow cast by Virginio Ferrari
    Virginio Ferrari (artist)
    Virginio Ferrari is an Italian sculptor, born in Verona and based in Chicago from the middle of the 1960s. He has had more than 50 solo exhibitions and participated in more than 150 group shows. Ferrari Studios, a site for both Virinio and his son Marco, is at 412 S. Wells, 3rd Floor, Chicago,...

    's sculpture. Student legend holds that the sculpture casts a shadow that resembles a hammer and sickle
    Hammer and sickle
    The hammer and sickle is a part of communist symbolism and its usage indicates an association with Communism, a Communist party, or a Communist state. It features a hammer and a sickle overlapping each other. The two tools are symbols of the industrial proletariat and the peasantry; placing them...

     on the sidewalk at noon on this day. In fact, the shadow produces an accurate sickle and an object in the position of the hammer, but the shape is not an exact copy of the symbol. Ferrari was first commissioned to build the sculpture to beautify what is now the new Economics building.

  • Campus folklore - According to a common superstition among university students, stepping on University Seal (located in the main lobby of the Reynolds Club) as an undergraduate will prevent the student from graduating in four years. Another common superstition about the university is that nearly 50% of its students marry each other; a commonly stated, but unverified fact is that if two students date each other for more than three months, there is an 80% chance that they will marry. Finally, if two students kiss on the bridge over the pond inside the main gates of the campus, it is said they will be destined to wed each other.

Scavenger Hunt

The annual University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt
University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt
The University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt is an annual four-day team-based scavenger hunt held at the University of Chicago, USA, in May.- Overview :...

 is a multi-day event in which large teams compete to obtain all of the notoriously esoteric items on a list. Held every May since 1987, it is considered to be the largest scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunt
A scavenger hunt is a game in which the organizers prepare a list defining specific items, using which the participants — individuals or teams — seek to gather all items on the list — usually without purchasing them — or perform tasks or take photographs of the items, as specified...

 in the world. Established by student Chris Straus, the "Scav Hunt" (as it is known among University students) has become one of the university's most popular traditions and has typically pushed the boundaries of absurdity. Each year, the list includes roughly 300 items, each with an assigned point value; the items vary widely, and often include performances, large-scale construction, technological construction, competition, and travel, as well as the traditional "find this item" listings. Most teams fall well short of completing half of the list and instead compete for total points amassed. The more difficult and time-consuming items earn more points, and teams typically devote more resources into these items.

Student organizations

Notable extracurricular groups include the University of Chicago College Bowl
Quiz bowl is a family of games of questions and answers on all topics of human knowledge that is commonly played by students enrolled in high school or college, although some participants begin in middle or even elementary school...

 Team, which has won 118 tournaments and 15 national championships, leading both categories internationally. The Chicago Debate Society has had a top four team at the American Parliamentary Debate Association's National Championship tournament four out of the past five years. Model United Nations
Model United Nations
Model United Nations is an academic simulation of the United Nations that aims to educate participants about current events, topics in international relations, diplomacy and the United Nations agenda....

 is also strong, winning major university simulations each year. Another notable organization is the Chicago Society, established in 2001. Chicago Society invites world-renowned speakers on a variety of issues and topics to campus. Recent invitees have included Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
Madeleine Albright
Madeleine Korbelová Albright is the first woman to become a United States Secretary of State. She was appointed by U.S. President Bill Clinton on December 5, 1996, and was unanimously confirmed by a U.S. Senate vote of 99–0...

, Steven Levitt
Steven Levitt
Steven David "Steve" Levitt is an American economist known for his work in the field of crime, in particular on the link between legalized abortion and crime rates. Winner of the 2004 John Bates Clark Medal, he is currently the William B...

, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, and Anwar Ibrahim
Anwar Ibrahim
Anwar bin Ibrahim is a Malaysian politician who served as Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister from 1993 to 1998. Early in his career, Anwar was a close ally of Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad but subsequently emerged as the most prominent critic of Mahathir's government.In 1999, he was sentenced...

. Their events have appeared in newspapers around the world.

The university's independent student newspaper
Student newspaper
A student newspaper is a newspaper run by students of a university, high school, middle school, or other school. These papers traditionally cover local and, primarily, school or university news....

 is the Chicago Maroon. Founded in 1892, the same year as the university, the newspaper is published every Tuesday and Friday. Chicago Weekly
Chicago Weekly
The Chicago Weekly is a student-written alternative weekly at the University of Chicago that promotes arts and culture on the South Side of Chicago through coverage and criticism. The paper also follows South Side news stories that are ignored by mainstream media...

is a student-run alternative weekly
Alternative weekly
An alternative newspaper is a type of newspaper, that eschews comprehensive coverage of general news in favor of stylized reporting, opinionated reviews and columns, investigations into edgy topics and magazine-style feature stories highlighting local people and culture. Their news coverage is more...

 covering issues and arts on the South Side of Chicago.

Undergraduates publish a number of periodicals as well, including Sliced Bread, an annual arts and literature publication and the University's largest magazine, The Chicago Shady Dealer, a humor magazine, Vita Excolatur, an erotic magazine, and Euphony, a literary journal.

The University of Chicago's University Theater is one of the oldest student-run theatre organizations in the country, involving as many as 500 members of the university community, producing 30 to 35 shows a year, and selling on the order of 10,000 tickets. It also operates Off-Off Campus
Off-Off Campus
Off-Off Campus is an improvisational and sketch comedy group at the University of Chicago, and the second-oldest collegiate group of its kind in the United States. It was founded in 1986 by The Second City co-founder Bernie Sahlins, who is also an alumnus of the U of C.Off-Off Campus stems from a...

, one of the University's two improv comedy troupes, started in 1986 by Bernard Sahlins
Bernard Sahlins
Bernard "Bernie" Sahlins is an American writer, director and comedian best known as a founder of The Second City improvisational comedy troupe with Paul Sills and Howard Alk in 1959. Sahlins also opened the Second City Theatre in Toronto in 1973....

, one of the founders of The Second City
The Second City
The Second City is a improvisational comedy enterprise which originated in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood.The Second City Theatre opened on December 16, 1959 and has since expanded its presence to several other cities, including Toronto and Los Angeles...


WHPK-FM is a radio station based in Chicago, Illinois. In addition, this frequency is also used by several local high schools in the Chicago metropolitan area.The University of Chicago owns the station's FCC license...

, a student-run and University-owned radio station
Radio station
Radio broadcasting is a one-way wireless transmission over radio waves intended to reach a wide audience. Stations can be linked in radio networks to broadcast a common radio format, either in broadcast syndication or simulcast or both...

, broadcasts out of the Reynolds Club on the university campus. DJ "JP Chill" has had a rap
Rapping refers to "spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics". The art form can be broken down into different components, as in the book How to Rap where it is separated into “content”, “flow” , and “delivery”...

 and hip hop
Hip hop music
Hip hop music, also called hip-hop, rap music or hip-hop music, is a musical genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted...

 show on WHPK since 1986. It was one of the earliest rap shows in the country and the first in Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...


The administration has controversially worked to combat the university's reputation as a place "where fun comes to die", which some claim have discouraged top students from taking the university into serious consideration when researching colleges.

The university also hosts Doc Films
Doc Films
The Documentary Film Group, better known as Doc Films, is a student-operated film society at the University of Chicago, Illinois, United States. It is—according to a 2007 Chicago Tribune article—"the longest-running collegiate film society in the country" and may be the oldest film society of any...

, one of the country's oldest film societies.


The school's Division III, University Athletic Association
University Athletic Association
The University Athletic Association is an American athletic conference that competes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. Member teams are located in Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Ohio, and New York...

NCAA teams are not a major focus on campus today, appearing almost “minimal” in their role on campus to “non-existent” according to students. However, in the early half of the twentieth century the school was power house in Big Ten Conference
Big Ten Conference
The Big Ten Conference is the United States' oldest Division I college athletic conference. Its twelve member institutions are located primarily in the Midwestern United States, stretching from Nebraska in the west to Pennsylvania in the east...

 play, notably in football where the school won numerous national championships. Yet, President Robert Maynard Hutchins suspended sports for several years though during his tenure fearing their digressive nature from academic endeavors, ending the prominence of most athletic programs. Today the many programs aim to cultivate the “student-athlete,” the emphasis being on balance between the two.

House system

The college employs a house system whereby undergraduates living in dormitories are assigned to a block of students of usually no more than 70 which serves as a focal point for university events. Some campus dormitories contain several houses, while other domiciles have only one. Each building is overseen by a resident master, and should there be more than one house, each a resident head. An upper division undergraduate is then selected to serve in addition as a resident assistant for each house. All first years are required to live in housing, however, the availability of affordable, off campus apartments makes them a popular option with a sizable segment of the student body. Moreover, students are free to bid or request switches amid houses both between academic years and during them. As such, the house system is rather fluid, and many students often have more than one affiliation during their time at the college. The current building and attendant houses of the college are:
  • Blackstone Hall
  • Breckinridge Hall
  • Broadview Hall
  • Burton-Judson Courts
    Burton-Judson Courts
    Burton–Judson Courts is a dormitory complex at the University of Chicago. One of the few undergraduate residences located south of the Midway Plaisance, it is a castlelike edifice built in a gothic style similar to that of the University's main quadrangles. Designed by the Philadelphia firm of...

  • Maclean Hall
  • Max Palevsky Residential Commons
  • Pierce Tower
  • Snell-Hitchcock Hall
  • South Campus Residence Hall
  • Stony Island Hall