College Spotlight: University of Chicago


You’ve read the brochures, you’ve taken a tour, you’ve talked to alumni, but still, you want that insider info on your favorite college. Look no further than our new blog series, in which we talk with B2A instructors about their own college experiences! This week we hear from Miranda Fisher, our head college admissions counselor, who completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago.

The following is an interview we conducted with Miranda:

General

How would you describe your undergraduate experience at UChicago in a single word?

I'm really struggling with this one....is there a word that means something like "challenging," but with a more positive connotation?

Why did you choose UChicago?

When I was in junior high, a family friend told me that the U of C was the perfect school for me. I have no idea why she thought that, but it inspired me to look into the college. What I found was a school that valued both individuality and true, deep learning for the sake of learning -- two qualities that are very important to me!

What did you like the most about UChicago?

I love that I got to take classes in many different topics, allowing me to learn deeply about subjects I never would have otherwise considered. But the thing I liked most about my time there was the unique, thoughtful, intellectually driven people I met, some of whom remain among my closest friends today.

What is one thing you didn't know about UChicago before starting there but was pleasantly surprised?

People like to jokingly refer to the U of C as "Where fun goes to die," but there really is a thriving social scene there!

Academics

What do you think makes the UChicago’s classes, professors, and academic resources unique?

Everyone I encountered really takes to heart the idea of "the life of the mind." The emphasis was always on learning, analyzing, expressing opinions -- not so much on preparing for careers.

What was your favorite class and why?

I took a class called “Staging Race: African Americans and Theater in the 20th Century” that I ended up loving. I chose it because I'd had the instructor for another class and found her teaching style really engaging; she had a way of making any material interesting. When coupled with this topic, about which she was passionate, attending this class became a highlight of my week. We got to read and analyze works that are really important and often beautiful, but are frequently ignored in discussions of theater. The class broadened my perspectives and really made me think about a lot of things that I probably wouldn't have otherwise.

What was your hardest class and why?

Honors Calculus in my freshman year was tough. I'd done very well in high school math, running out of courses to take and ending up taking a few analysis classes at the local college. But Honors Calc broke down my self-perceived math talents and made me look at math in a way that was very new to me and very, very challenging. When I'm talking to friends from the U of C and I mention that I took the Honors Calc sequence instead of just taking the credit I'd earned from AP Calc, they always go, "WHY?!?"

What kind of student would you recommend UChicago to?

Anyone who wants to learn, and doesn't mind working hard to do so, but who also has a unique personality.

What is one thing you wish you knew about UChicago's academics when you applied?

I wish I'd known how HARD they were going to be! I came from a high school that was not very academically challenging -- everyone seemed to care more about the hockey team than about academics. Before college, I'd never had to work to get good grades. I really had to scramble to learn how to study!

Student Life

Did you live on campus, and if so, how was dorm life?

I did! I lived in a dorm called Max Palevsky for two years. I liked being so close to campus, but looking back, I wish I'd lived in the Shoreland. The Shoreland was about a 15-minute walk from campus -- the reason my lazy teenage self immediately rejected it -- but it was so cool; it had been built as a hotel in the 1920s, and Al Capone stayed there. It's no longer a dorm, but when it was, what a unique opportunity!

Did you participate in any student groups, and if so, which one(s)?

I was very, very involved with our college radio station, WHPK. I started as a DJ right away during orientation week, and became Rock Format Chief in winter quarter of my second year and never looked back. Nearly all of my best friends and best memories from college come from WHPK. It was my home.

Where was your favorite hangout spot?

Wednesdays were all about $1 shakes and then hanging out in Hutch Commons in the Reynolds Club. Bonus: it was right below the WHPK office...which would be the honest answer to where I spent all of my time!

What was one fun thing to do off campus?

What a wild question -- when you're at the University of Chicago, you've got THE ENTIRE CITY OF CHICAGO at your hands! There's plenty of fun to be found in Hyde Park, but I think it's really important for students to get out and explore the city they're living in. And don't ignore the rest of the south side -- there's plenty of culture to be found in areas like Pilsen and Bridgeport!

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