I know this looks long but it's really the same as tgir's; I just added fun pictures!
I'm going to preface what I say with this: A lot of what I love about Chicago is specific to me. So although I'm going to sound like an obnoxious troll with rose-colored glasses on, it's mostly just because it's the perfect fit for me. I can certainly see how it might not be the school for some people, but as for me, I couldn't be more thrilled about going.
So my thoughts on the visit:
What's there to say? It's incredible. I've lived in small southern towns my whole life, and I can't wait to get out and live in a real city. The shopping is fantastic (1), the food is great, and it's so beautiful and clean. I stayed downtown and just had a ball. The [obvious] negative is the weather, but I was fine while there, so at least March isn't terrible. The last day I didn't even wear a coat, just a sweatshirt. Get back to me next winter and I'm sure I'll be less pleasant.
--ImageRemoved--The Law School:
The law school building itself is gorgeous. I loved all the windows, especially in the lounge, and the classrooms were very nice. The library is incredible and takes up several different floors, and there's an area for pretty much anything you need to do there: study, read, print Lexis/Westlaw stuff, read magazines (2), sleep, etc. I really liked how everything was set up, and the facilities themselves were a big plus. I really liked the small, intimate feel of the place (my UG department alone sprawls over three separate buildings), and I could just so clearly see myself being at home there.
This is probably the area I'll know least about from experience, as I only saw the one class + listened to Lior (3). That being said, if other professors are as incredible as Levmore, I can't wait for classes to start. He was entertaining, brilliant, and I especially enjoyed his interaction with the class. It wasn't a one-sided lecture, but I also wouldn't consider it mean-spirited cold-calling. He would ask for questions and opinions, and though he was sarcastic and teased the students, it was all in good fun and he definitely wasn't trying to embarrass anyone. He certainly wanted to make sure the class understood everything about the cases, and it was clear he truly enjoys teaching. Several students assured me that this was the norm, and I heard a lot of compliments for the various professors. After the class, we listened to several people speak, and Lior was great, of course. It's clear he loves the school, and I especially appreciate that he continually wants to make it better, whether that be through hiring the best professors, enhancing the PI program, etc. Finally, I think it's awesome that the school gives profs a budget to be used solely for taking students out to lunch. You ask, the prof pays!
So this is also a small sample, but I did try to talk to different students, and the ones I met were great
. They all seemed to love Chicago, but none of them tried to obnoxiously shove UChi down my throat. It was definitely more of a "show not tell" experience. They didn't have to say
that their classmates were friendly, because I saw students all day striking up random conversations in the lounge, stopping to discuss classes in the hallway, or asking me if I needed help finding something when I looked lost. The students were definitely there to work hard, but I think they really enjoy each other's company at the same time. I especially liked that during lunch we got paired up one-on-one with students, and the 3L I talked to was great. She was sweet and outgoing, not socially awkward at all (4), and hilarious. We sat in the lounge for lunch, and were quickly joined by one of her friends (a transfer), and spent a while just chatting. They were both really witty, and I really enjoyed talking to them. She then took me around the school, told me about what coat to buy, and talked about her [awesome] post graduation offer and answered all my questions. This is probably the most subjective part, and I think a lot of it is gut feeling, but I just really liked everyone I talked to and could see myself "fitting in" really easily. I'm also excited about being around smart, motivated people for three years, as that's not entirely the case at my UG.
This wasn't going to be a section, but I feel compelled to mention how awesome they all were. The admissions staff was so great, helped me with my travel reimbursement woes, and were especially friendly when I stopped by the school the day after the Day in the Life. Beyond the admissions office, though, I got the sense that everyone is in it for the students. A 1L I talked to had a family emergency before finals, and the Dean of Students immediately rescheduled all his/her exams, and the Dean himself checked in to make sure he/she was all right. (5) The 3L I talked to mixed up her exam times freshman year, and the Dean of Students was able to get them rescheduled so she wasn't penalized. The administrators talked about how they're continually coming up with activities or new traditions (breakfast for dinner where the profs serve the students!), and the students reinforced that this was definitely the case. Karla even offered to help me plan out a budget because I was worried about rent. It just seems like they're there for the students, and that since the school is so small, they can really do a lot even individually.
Going in, I was expecting HP to be a wasteland filled only with crime and despair, based on TLS opinion. I don't know if I'm just crazy or if something was in the water, but I actually really liked it! It was nice and quiet, the campus is gorgeous, it's easy to get around, and is a great university setting, while still being SO close to the city. I took the Metra from downtown and it couldn't have been easier. Other students took the bus and that was easy as well. I think I like that it's a nice place for school, without being in the hubbub of downtown Chi. I also visited a few apartments, and preferred Regents. Close to the Regents/Algonquin area, there's a Borders, Starbucks, restaurants, produce shop, etc. and while it's obviously not a booming metropolis, it is definitely serviceable. I can see how the area might be a negative for someone wanting to be in the middle of city life, but it was great for my preferences.
So that's my novel! I'm glad to answer any questions or explain stuff. I really, really
enjoyed the visit. I'm obviously biased, so take this post with a grain of salt, but Chi is definitely the perfect fit for me, and I wish it was September already!
(1) I read somewhere that Chi has more square feet of retail space per person than any other city in the U.S. Awesome!
(2) My tour guide buddy informed me that they have both The Economist
(3) PM me for creepiness. I, uh, may have snapped a picture for Ghost.
(4) I was a little nervous that I would only meet a bunch of super-nerds.
(5) Trying to be as vague as possible so as not to share personal info.