UNMAZE.ME: Standing Out In Selective Admissions: The Application & Essay

ate summer greetings from your friendly University of Chicago alumni interviewer and college fair rep, Mr. Bill Parker.  I hope your summer has gone well.  As I write this, in most places across the land, school has started.  Here in Lee County, schools are open for business, and most colleges and universities are greeting incoming freshman and starting classes.  Except, maybe, at the U of C, which has long been a laggard in getting cranked up in the fall.  Having, since its founding, based its academic calendar on the quarter system (which it originated), fall classes at Chicago start late.  With high school having started, the number of campus visitors has slowed to a trickle, and most incoming freshmen will not show up until Move-In Day, September 18th.  Fall quarter classes won’t begin until September 26th.  In the intervening week, freshmen go through O-Week (orientation), during which they visit downtown icons like the Art Institute, attend a White Sox game, tentatively explore the University’s Hyde Park neighborhood and, perhaps, take in a little of downtown Chicago, learn about life in an urban setting, sit for mandatory and elective placement tests, receive academic counseling, register for fall classes, and attend the Aims of Education address.  Other selective colleges and universities host similar programs — though without the Aims address.   I’ve heard that the University’s late September start date follows either Oxford, which begins after Michaelmas (pronounced “Mikkle-m’ss”), or the Jewish High Holy Days — take your pick.  Meanwhile, during the month-long interval between the late August conclusion to the summer quarter and Move-In Day, a languid summer torpor descends on campus, almost as though the University were resting to build up strength for the year ahead.

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