The Ivy Coach Daily

February 24, 2023

University of Chicago Class Size Expansion (2018)

The gothic architecture of the University Of Chicago is featured adjacent to a lawn.
The University of Chicago announced plans to increase the size of its student body in 2018. Over the years since, UChicago has done just that.

Originally Published on November 17, 2018:

In November 2018, the University of Chicago announced plans to expand its undergraduate student body — to 7,000 students. At the time, the school intended for each subsequent UChicago incoming class to total around 1,700 students. So, over the years since 2018, has UChicago met its goals?

With an average of 1,878 students per class in the fall of 2022, the most recent start to the academic year, the answer is a resounding yes! Let’s take a deeper look at UChicago’s undergraduate enrollment patterns.

UChicago’s Enrollment in Historical Context

For historical context, in 1900, 949 undergraduates were enrolled at UChicago. This figure would, over the next 100+ years, increase to 3,847 (1920), dip to 3,512 (1940), fall again to 2,211 (1960), rise to 2,755 (1980), climb to 3,966 (2000), and surge to 7,011 (2020).

In the fall of 2022, UChicago’s undergraduate student enrollment stood at 7,512, eclipsed only by the school’s undergraduate enrollment in the fall of 2021, when 7,559 were pursuing their bachelor’s degrees at the institution.

YearUniversity of Chicago Total Undergraduate Student Enrollment
1900949 Students
19203,847 Students
19304,487 Students
19403,512 Students
19502,815 Students
19602,211 Students
19702,212 Students
19802,755 Students
19903,478 Students
20003,966 Students
20105,134 Students
20186,600 Students
20196,801 Students
20207,011 Students
20217,559 Students
20227,512 Students

Why UChicago Expanded Its Undergraduate Student Body

When UChicago announced plans to expand its undergraduate student body, Dean of the College John Boyer said in an interview with The Chicago Maroon, “’Overtime, the size of the college will end up about the same size as Harvard. The class size for each incoming class will be moving towards 1,700 and that’s where we will plateau for each class to create a population of 7,000 undergraduates.”

UChicago’s dean even went so far as to say, “[UChicago is] looking to build back to the status and size of the college from before WWII. While we are comparing our size to Harvard, this has been a long historical trajectory that started decades ago and is coming to a close as we meet this goal.”

UChicago is a Trailblazer, Shouldn’t Openly Mimic Harvard

And while we at Ivy Coach applaud UChicago’s concerted effort to increase the size of its undergraduate student body, we can’t help but find it odd that this prestigious institution is trying to mimic Harvard so openly.

After all, the University of Chicago is a trailblazer. It is a school that founded the nation’s first department devoted to the study of economics. It is a school that dropped the SAT/ACT requirement months before other elite universities went test-optional because of the pandemic. It is a school that has consistently asked its applicants to answer weird essay prompts over the last several years when so many other elite universities have posed dry, less complicated questions.

UChicago Expanded Its Class Size As Promised from 2018-2022

We applaud UChicago for opening up more seats to prospective students by significantly expanding its average incoming class size over the last few years. The school has well surpassed its stated goal of enrolling 7,000 undergraduates by enrolling 7,559 students in the fall of 2021 and 7,512 students in the fall of 2022.

That said, the university could have announced plans to increase access without so openly trying to mimic its peer institution, Harvard. UChicago is an institution that historically marches to the beat of its own drum. The school’s move to expand its undergraduate student body should have been rooted in this beautiful philosophy.

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