The University of Chicago on June 14 launched the UChicago Empower Initiative, a test-optional admissions process to enhance the accessibility of its undergraduate College for first-generation and low-income students. The first top-ranked college to institute a test-optional policy, along with increased financial aid and programmatic resources, UChicago will enable more students to pursue higher education, regardless of background, geographic location or ability to pay.
A strategic initiative to address key barriers encountered by underserved and underrepresented students, the UChicago Empower Initiative has three areas of focus: the use of technology for greater flexibility in the admissions process, including making submissions of standardized test scores optional; increased financial support, on-campus programming and online resources for first-generation, rural and underrepresented students, with full tuition aid for students whose families earn less than $125,000; and new scholarships and access programs to recognize those who serve our country and local communities. Each aims to empower historically underrepresented communities in the highly selective admissions process by increasing equity and access.
“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 James G. Nondorf, vice president and dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago. “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. We want students to understand the application does not define you—you define the application.”