If I’m an incoming freshman at UChicago, how easy is it for me to join student groups? My cousin goes to UChicago and I’ve heard about some of the cool business/econ related student groups such as Blue Chips and Ekchart Consulting. My cousin told me that they’re really hard to get into and that there is a competitive admission process. I’m worried that as a freshman who doesn’t really know much about investing or business cases I won’t have a chance!
I completely understand your concern. Official student groups at the University of Chicago are called RSOs (Registered Student Organizations) and there are hundreds of them. You ask, ‘how hard is it to join an RSO?’. Well I’m afraid there is no clear cut answer – it really depends on what RSOs your looking to join. Let me tell you a little more about The Blue Chips (TBC) and Eckhart Consulting (EC).
TBC is one of the most famous RSOs on campus, especially for those interested in a career in finance (which a lot of people at UChicago are). As a result, TBC is relatively difficult for first-years (freshman) to gain admission to. If you are interested in applying, I recommend you start checking out their website (http://tbc.uchicago.edu/). The next step is to start e-mail some of their more senior members. Don’t be spammy! Just introduce yourself very briefly and highlight you are incoming freshman who is eager to learn more about what it takes to get into TBC. In particular, ask if they could recommend any reading. Such e-mails are valuable for two reasons: 1) Networking is really key when it comes to joining student groups, 2) if people do respond to your e-mails, they’ll have some great suggestions for you, with regards to learning about finance. For a great source of introductory material on finance, I recommend you check out the Crimson Hub. There are some great introductory videos about basic finance concepts, such as this one: https://hub.crimsoneducation.org/browse/careers/industry-jargon/jamie-beaton-harvard-graduate-an-introduction-into-basic-finance-concepts/what-is-finance
Okay, now let’s talk a little about EC. So EC is a management consulting RSO, which offers strategy consulting for real-life clients, such as the Chicago Bulls, Uber, and McDonalds. EC is extremely hard to join, as they have fewer members than BlueChips and deal with actual clients. So realistically, you don’t have a great chance of joining EC as a first-year. I recommend that you aim to apply during their Spring application cycle (end of your first-year), as by then you will hopefully have a better understanding of how to do business cases. Again, just as I recommended for TBC, I urge you to check out their website (http://www.ec.uchicago.edu/) and network. E-mail some of their senior members and introduce yourself as a high school student, who would like to know what you can start doing in order to be in a good place to apply during the Spring cycle. Once you’re on campus, try and set up a coffee chat with one of their members – it will go a long way if they know how you are. Again, don’t be spammy when reaching out to EC. Keep it brief and be patient; they might not immediately respond to your e-mails.
I hope that you found some of this helpful! Keep in mind that TBC and EC are some of the more competitive RSOs to join. Many less established RSOs have a less selective process for joining and often are a great option for incoming freshman. I recommend that you check out the RSO fair during Orientation Week – its a great opportunity to find out what RSOs exist, while simultaneously networking with their members. Another great strategy is to speak to upperclassmen in your dorm. Find you what RSO they’re active in or whether they have friends in your target RSOs. The more people you can speak to about the RSOs you want to join, the better!