Arvind Krishnan, ‘17, attends the University of Chicago. Currently, he is contemplating a major in the biological sciences and molecular engineering.
Q: Why did you decide to attend the University of Chicago?
A: I wanted to go to a place where I could engage in several different academic pursuits. Having lectures from world-class professors, reading classics (and) engaging with other students were all part of my decision.
Q: How was the transition from high school to college?
A: The transition was not hard at all. Orientation week was a good crash-course introduction to my new home and school. Every freshman was going through the same phase, living and navigating the campus on their own for pretty much the first time.
Q: Do you like the big-school environment? Which do you like better, a small or big school, and why?
A: The University of Chicago is really a mid-sized school. Not too big and not too small. My incoming class was about 1700 students. Class sizes are not large (most capped at around 20).
First-years (what they call freshmen at University of Chicago) are required to stay on campus and (are) grouped in Houses. My House (Keller House) has around 100 students, and it is a smaller and (more) intimate community for social and academic collaboration within the university itself.
Q: Do you have any roommates?
A: No, I was lucky to get a single. It is handy because I can deal with others when I want and shut the door when I don’t.
Q: How hard is it to get a single room and what is the process like?
A: I was just lucky to get a single. Most freshmen are in doubles. It is a random assignment by University housing based on preferences I filled out in my housing application.
Q: What classes are you taking?
A: As a liberal arts college within a large research institution, the university has a core curriculum that all students must fulfill. So I am currently taking courses that fulfill the core as well as general education requirements for my major.
I am taking a humanities class called Readings in World Literature, a social science class known as Mind, which is an introduction to how the mind works, Honors Calculus (a proof-based class unlike anything that I have ever taken) and chemistry.
Q: How is UChicago different from other universities?
A: For one thing, we are on the quarter system, having three quarters plus summer instead of two semesters. This allows me to take more classes.
What makes UChicago stand out the most from other colleges is probably the intellectual atmosphere and the emphasis on academic inquiry. This can be seen with (the school’s) large focus on theory and its practical aspects.
Q: How is it different from SCDS?
A: Country Day is a lot smaller and (more) intimate; however, that intimate feeling exists at UChicago by making good connections. College demands a reasonably deeper understanding of subject matter.
(Furthermore), I get the benefit of campus life while living in a beautiful city. The city is just a quick bus ride away, with lots of museums, restaurants and the waterfront to explore.
Q: How often do you go into the city?
A: I don’t venture off campus that often, to be honest. I’ve been around the Loop (downtown) a few times and in the nearby neighborhood of Hyde Park. I went to an escape room downtown a couple weeks ago, and that was really fun.
Q: How did Country Day prepare you for college?
A: The best thing I learned at Country Day is work ethic and time management, which are incredibly useful and absolutely necessary skills for college.
Q: Are you participating in any extracurriculars?
A: I am part of Chicago Society, where we host speaker events. We invite people from around the country to give lectures at the university. We did not really have a lot of speakers last quarter, but I am involved in a couple of events during the spring.
I am also fairly active in my House. I am on the council, where we plan and execute activities for the entire House. It (is) a great way for me to know all my roommates.
Q: Which speakers did you have last quarter for Chicago Society?
A: We had one professor from the Booth School of Business, Dr. Eric Zwick, who gave a very interesting talk on income inequality.
Q: Which events are you involved in for the spring quarter?
A: We are having a behavioral economist, George Wu, speak on his field; the Libertarian nominee for governor of California, Zoltan Istvan, (will speak) on his technology- and science-oriented political platform; and I am also trying to invite someone who is working on thorium nuclear energy.
Q: What kind of activities do you guys plan on the House council?
A: We organize intramural sports against other Houses, karaoke, museum trips and more.
Q: How are you handling the winter weather of Chicago?
A: It’s honestly not that bad. Sure, it’s colder than Sacramento, but it does not bother me that much. In fact, I quite enjoy the aesthetic nature of the snow.
Q: Have you made any freshman mistakes?
A: I quickly learned that a rain jacket is more useful than an umbrella since Chicago is known for its unfriendly, windy rains.
Q: Any advice for the class of 2018 regarding college?
A: Applying and going to your dream school is just the beginning. Remember to work hard once you’re in college.
Secondly, if getting up for school every morning is a struggle for you in high school, college is not the time to decide that you will change and start doing your homework in the morning after going to the gym.
Lastly, remember to call your parents on Facetime or Skype.