The student news site of Naperville North High School

The North Star

The student news site of Naperville North High School

The North Star

The student news site of Naperville North High School

The North Star

College Confusion: What is going on with new nicknames for universities?

Photo by Bridg

On an innocent walk past the College and Career Center, I hear the buzz of students around me. Excited for the upcoming college visits, they blurt out to their friends which school’s informational meeting they’ll be attending. 

And then someone mentions a university that I’m certain does not exist.


My head whips around, my eyes squint in confusion and I get a vaguely nauseous churning in my stomach. As a junior in high school, my consumption of college-related media is at an all time high, and I’ve never heard of this cryptic college. What school could this mysterious “UMich” be?

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But then the puzzle pieces start to click and my mouth drops open in shock.

Someone has just referred to the University of Michigan Ann Arbor as “UMich.” The world must have stopped spinning on its axis. 

In my house, the University of Michigan has only ever been referred to as “Michigan.” The very idea that someone has configured a new name for this school is absolutely beyond me. Curious, I ask around, polling my classmates to see what they think of this sudden change. 

Apparently, “UMich” is a thing. And apparently, I’m the weird one.

The more I think about these new titles, the more I see them. My family and I have always called the University of Chicago “U of C.” Yet, both my peers and the University’s web page beg to differ: “Life at UChicago,” “UChicago Medicine,” “Scholarship at UChicago.”

I was under the impression that everyone referred to the University of Illinois as “U of I,” no matter the school location. Now I primarily hear “UIUC” when discussing the Urbana Champaign campus.

Needless to say, I have some questions. Who pioneered these names? When did this renaming happen? Why has society moved on from old nicknames, meeting whoever uses them with skepticism and a perplexed look? How am I crazy for referring to a school differently? And why does it seem like everyone is skimming over this new wave of abbreviations when it’s something that can change the fabric of young students’ lives (or at least, my own)?

Sure, this might be a slight overreaction, and sure, there’s some evidence that objects to these newfangled names; the University of Michigan’s website lists links for “Michigan News” and “Michigan Almanac.” While I take comfort in this, I’m driven insane by options on the same web page like “U-M Health Response,” and worst of all, the university’s very website domain: “”

And so, with this irrefutable proof of novel nicknames, I’ve succumbed to the masses and their affectionate abbreviations for our higher education institutions. Yet part of me still lives in confusion. After all, universities are one of the most quickly evolving aspects of education. The past three years have insanely altered schools’ acceptance rates, requirements and regulations, making me used to and infatuated by the exhilarating turbulence we call college. Yet the last thing I would think could change about a school was its very own title.

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About the Contributor
Bridget Ogan, Staff Writer
Bridget Ogan is a junior at Naperville North and is thrilled to be a first-year member of The North Star. She is beyond excited to be investigating the worlds of print and broadcast journalism. When she's not in the newsroom, Bridget is involved in Huskie Crew, Theatre, Junior Board and more.   

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