By AARON GETTINGER
In a watershed, historic development, the University of Chicago (U. of C.) announced today the UChicago Empower Initiative, which makes standardized testing like the SAT or ACT exams optional, not required, for undergraduate admissions. The program will go into place for applicants to the class of 2023.
The U. of C. is the first premier research institution in the United States to make such a move. Furthermore, a number of other financial aid and programmatic resources for low-income, rural, and first-generation undergraduate students were announced as part of the Initiative.
Applicants to the College will additionally be able to self-submit transcripts, in a move to eliminate fees, and include a two-minute video introduction with applications. The University again pledged full tuition aid for students from households earning less than $125,000 annually alongside $20,000 scholarships every four years and guaranteed paid summer internships for first-generation college students.
“Today, many under-resourced and underrepresented students, families and school advisers perceive top-ranked colleges as inaccessible if students do not have the means to help them stand out in the application process,” said Vice President and Dean of Admissions James G. Nondorf, in a statement. “The UChicago Empower Initiative levels the playing field, allowing first-generation and low-income students to use technology and other resources to present themselves as well as any other college applicant.”
The Initiative also includes expanded funding for veterans and the children of veterans, police officers and firefighters while covering all education costs for eligible participants in the federal Department of Veteran Affairs’ Yellow Ribbon program. Also announced was a partnership with the New York City-based Posse Foundation’s Veterans Program to build an undergraduate veterans cohort—applicants will apply to be a part of a 10-person veteran “posse” at the U. of C., given free tuition and unique programming.
Furthermore, the U. of C. announced new programming for low-income and first-generation students, including new technology that will connect them with alumni mentors, two new UChicago Women’s Board-sponsored programs, Allison Davis Jr. Education Summit and the UChicago Summer Scholars Program, for black students and further partnerships and experimental learning opportunities to be announced in 2019.
“The UChicago Empower Initiative continues the University and College’s unwavering commitment to access and inclusion. Throughout the past century, UChicago has considered a broad diversity of cultural perspectives and academic merit without regard to socio-economic class to be fundamental,” said John W. Boyer, dean of the College. “We are delighted to now also provide an admissions process that makes UChicago even more accessible by enabling students to present their best, most authentic selves.”