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The University of Chicago’s The Core curriculum brings undergraduates into small, discussion-based classes that emphasize critical thinking, learning for learning’s sake, and the re-examination of fundamental questions across disciplines. Photograph courtesy The University of Chicago
The University of Chicago’s The Core curriculum brings undergraduates into small, discussion-based classes that emphasize critical thinking, learning for learning’s sake, and the re-examination of fundamental questions across disciplines. Photograph courtesy The University of Chicago

The Art of Balance

The University of Chicago equips its students with an academic tool kit to map their way from The Core’s liberal arts and science curriculum to robust career opportunities. 


When Sanjana started her college search, she could not stop talking to her parents about potential majors, research opportunities, clubs and other activities available. But, for her parents, this conversation often took on a slightly different course—they would focus on post-college outcomes and career options. As Sanjana explains, her parents preferred “a rigorous academic environment which also provided career exposure.” Sanjana’s parents, and many others, often look to strike a balance between academic and pre-professional programs. At The University of Chicago, the answer lies in the liberal arts and science curriculum of The Core, and the robust opportunities found through the Career Advancement Office.


The Core curriculum
The University of Chicago’s The Core curriculum brings undergraduates into small, discussion-based classes that emphasize critical thinking, learning for learning’s sake, and the re-examination of fundamental questions across disciplines. The curriculum gives students a common language and an academic tool kit they take into conversations in every class. In a course like Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases, students combine mathematical modeling with scientific analysis to understand the dynamics of diseases. Later in the day, they head to the Self, Culture, and Society class to debate elements of political economy through the lenses of cultural and historical experiences.

Looking back at her time at The Core, now fourth-year economics major Sanjana reflects, “The reading- and writing-based classes through The Core gave me the ability to form nuanced arguments as well as a set of analytical skills, which have broadened my career opportunities. These helped me develop holistically, and become a well-rounded student.” Between classes, Sanjana and her classmates continue the discussions, letting them evolve and deviate from academic topics over meals in the dining hall. This interdisciplinary way of thinking, developed through liberal arts and science curricula, helps students become comfortable across multiple disciplines, sharpens their problem-solving skills, and transforms them into better analyzers and fluid learners.

 

My freshman year in the U.S. has been one of the best teachers for me so far. It transformed me from a shy person to a confident, responsible adult. Within a span of nine months, I learned a lot. By interacting with people in a diverse community, I opened up. I gained a wider outlook of the world. In this new environment, I constantly challenged myself, which made me responsible and less dependent. Additionally, I discovered new interests, which were highly appreciated by my peers and mentors. Most importantly, I learned how to maintain a balance between work and fun.

—Kunal Kaushik is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Hands-on approach
At The University of Chicago, students like Sanjana are not simply liberal arts students. Rather, they take their ideas and apply them through hands-on training, like a summer internship at a consulting firm, research with a molecular engineering professor at Argonne National Laboratory, or a mentorship program hosted by Career Advancement’s UChicago Careers In program, which covers fields like business, education, health, law, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), public policy, journalism, arts and entrepreneurship.

 

Over one summer, Sanjana interned at a bank focusing on global markets. The experience, she feels, was crucial in helping her connect with recruiters and alumni, ultimately leading to her internship and full-time job after her graduation this June. It is the adaptable skill set developed in The Core that makes The University of Chicago a popular destination for employers as well.

 

Academic and career advising
Students are often passionate about a variety of study areas, whether as seemingly disparate as biology and history, or as intertwined as economics and mathematics. Students are provided guidance during their time at the university through academic and career advising. A dedicated academic adviser helps students throughout college to create a schedule that best develops their academic tool kit. Career advisers also help students map out their potential career path. Together, the tool kit and the map help students move from the classrooms to careers.

As John W. Boyer, Dean of the college, says, “The rigor and insight inherent in a UChicago education give our students remarkable resources for their professional success, not least because they study in and engage with the exciting world metropolis of Chicago. Our students are active participants in the classrooms, where they learn the skills of a scholar. And from this, they take the ability to lead, to communicate and to be understood in every profession, around the world.”

 

Daniel Urbina-McCarthy is the senior assistant director of admissions and director of international outreach and strategy in the Office of Admissions at The University of Chicago. 


 

 

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