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By all accounts, the University of Chicago is a unique place. My late grandfather, a Bachelors and Masters degree recipient from the University used to say, “for the right student, Chicago is the only place, but it can destroy the wrong student.” When I originally applied for college, I knew that I was not the right student for Chicago. Despite the familial encouragement to apply, I chose to focus my applications on what I perceived to be “better rounded” institutions.
It turned out that my choice was not the right one.
“Well-rounded” is a facet of the individual, not the institution, and I was disappointed in many of the aspects of Northwestern that were supposed to make up for the strong, but not necessarily elite, intellectual community. I left Northwestern after two years to pursue several small business opportunities, where I learned a great deal. I continue to be involved in exciting new technological pursuits, but I do not want these pursuits to be my only focus.
It’s funny how life often comes full circle. Now, four years after my original applications for college, I am back to evaluating how well different institutions will meet my needs and desires. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to reevaluate the decisions of my past with 20/20 hindsight. I realize now some of the missteps I have made in my academic pursuits, and my application to Chicago is my attempt to build on those experiences and take my academic pursuits to a new level.
I feel that Chicago is the single most scholarship-focused university in the world. Chicago’s focus on scholarship for its own sake is the single biggest draw for me. I realized the hard way that university is not, as many would have us believe, job training. I truly believe in the University’s unadulterated focus on learning. I do not need university experience to acquire meaningful and well-compensated employment; I need to attend university to immerse myself in a purely academic setting, unaffected by the search for profit. I want a community that offers invaluable resources, and a student body composed of people who are excited about my intellectual questions, no matter how obscure or wild. I want a place where the first question asked of a new idea is not, “How are you going to make any money off of that?”
After all these years, and the many directions in which life has taken me, I have finally realized that the only place for me to pursue my education is the University of Chicago. The University meets or exceeds my needs in every way I have identified. I am excited about the possibility of making this storied institution and its bizarre but wonderful community a part of my future. Perhaps it is my destiny, or perhaps it is dumb luck, but the University is in Chicago, minutes from my home, and I am finally ready for it.
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