Student Spotlight: Rebekah @ University of Chicago
What’s on your playlist?
Anything by The 1975, The Vaccines, or Vampire Weekend. Broadway show tunes and huge orchestral symphonies if I’m studying.
What’s a book that inspired you?
Hope in Hell: Inside the World of Doctors Without Borders
Morning person or night owl?
Night owl 100%.
Favorite way to take study break?
Watching an episode of Orange is the New Black on Netflix or taking a walk with friends.
Favorite late night snack?
Goldfish, Sour Skittles, Cheetos Puffs, espresso shots, or Red Bull.
My favorite app is Instagram and my favorite gadget is my trusty old iPod classic.
I really love my…
Favorite travel destination?
How did you decide what school you were going to go to?
I chose my school based on an overnight visit, its academic reputation, and the amount of financial aid I was given. UChicago was not even on my radar when I was applying, but my dad encouraged me to apply because he thought they would give me money since it is a Midwest school. I finished my essays about two days before the deadline and expected nothing of it. When I heard back, I was amazed (since UChicago is one of the top 5 schools in the country) and so excited about the academic reputation of the school (which was sort of for the wrong reasons). In high school, I was very focused on reputation, something I regret. However, since it is such a great school, and they gave me a lot of money in my financial aid package, I decided to visit for a weekend and see what it was like. I immediately fell in love once I got there. The campus was gorgeous, the people were smart, funny, charismatic, and not socially awkward like I expected them to be. The classes were interesting and the professors are all doing research and making huge discoveries outside of the classroom. The location of Chicago is the best place I could imagine myself, and there are amazing things happening on campus every day.
What one piece of advice would you give high school students, or yourself in high school?
The most important thing to remember as a high school junior and senior is first, make sure you are choosing a college for the right reasons, and secondly, don’t worry so much about where you are going to end up. Although college is supposed to be fun, and will undoubtedly be some of the best years of your life, don’t choose a school merely because it looks fun or because your friends are going there. Please, don’t choose a school based on its partying reputation. You can party anywhere; you can’t get a great education everywhere. However, in the end, don’t worry about where you end up. If you stress yourself out, it will make your freshman year unbearable and you can always transfer after your first year if you’re not enjoying your college experience. Most people I know end up loving their colleges because when you spend time somewhere and make friends and form bonds, you’ll end up feeling at home. College is a place to jump start the rest of your life, and unless you’re planning on being the President of the Universe, there is room for interpretation on what is the correct school and where you will get the best experience. The number one school in the country might not be the place for you, and that doesn’t mean you are a failure. Don’t worry about it so much. It will all work out perfectly.
Top 5 things you won’t read in the brochure about the University of Chicago:
UChicago has a reputation for having weird, “quirky” kids and strange events like Scav. Although these people definitely exist, nobody tells you that most of the kids here are very normal and want to have a great college experience just like kids at any other school. The one thing I have noticed is that EVERY kid, frat star and science geek alike, studies incredibly hard and incredibly often. The fact that everyone is working hard is one of my favorite things about the school, because we all have a common interest and common mindset despite our personality differences.
It’s ridiculously cold here. It’s much colder than I expected and there were times during the winter that I honestly wouldn’t leave my dorm for a day because I didn’t feel like putting on a huge jacket, gloves, hat, boots, and a scarf. There is barely any autumn or spring in Chicago. But when Spring Quarter comes it’s amazing how electric the campus becomes, with students emerging from their winter “hibernations.”
UChicago touts its Common Core a lot in brochures and makes it really appealing to students who want an overall educational experience, but they don’t tell you that it will take away from exploring major options and taking courses just because you are interested in them. Although the Core is really cool and I am being forced to take an acting class and a philosophy class, both of which I love and I would never have taken on my own, I really wish there was more freedom to take random classes just based on interest. (Disclaimer: I’m also Pre-Med, which has a LOT of requirements so this problem is probably worse for me than it is for other majors.)
The workload is hard. I know that goes without saying, but I really underestimated how difficult college was going to be. My college classes are 100% harder than my high school classes ever were, and even though I am only taking four classes at a time it is more work than my 10 or 11 classes during high school. UChicago also has a reputation for grading really harshly, and my GPA is nowhere near what I expected it to be coming into school.
There’s a weird bell that plays in the library at 12:30 AM, warning students that the library floors will close at 1 AM (except for the first floor which stays open all night). The bell is kind of frightening if you’re not expecting it, and I’ve had many experiences thinking it was a fire alarm and leaving my seat only to realize it’s just UChicago laughing at me for staying late in the library yet another night.