Do you know a really smart, really motivated Chicago high school student? One who might even be called a brainiac? If so, make sure he or she knows about the UChicago Promise, designed to help Chicago residents get into highly selective colleges.
Here’s how it works. First, the university is running an Admissions Academy, to help students research and apply to colleges. The free sessions include essay writing and financial aid.
Second, if a Chicago resident who also attends a Chicago high school (public or private) is admitted to the U of C, he or she will not have any loans in his or her financial aid package. The university will even waive the $75 admission fee for Chicago residents. (My kid, a Chicago resident who attends a Catholic high school in the suburbs, is out of luck. And really, that’s how it should be.)
This was motivated by concerns over educational equity and also by the realization that many city high school students are capable of getting into highly selective colleges but don’t apply. The idea is to give students more information about how to apply and what to expect so that they aim high and do well once they land.
As a Chicagoan, and a U of C alumna, I think this is great, and more colleges should do something similar as a way to contribute to their local communities. One of the major access issues is that people don’t know how to research and apply to college, nor do they understand financial aid packages. Because the Chicago Public Schools have a high poverty rate, most students would be getting full financial aid with few or no loans wherever they attended (for-profit colleges possibly excepted). That’s not laid out for people to see, though, so they believe they can’t afford it.
And, high schools don’t have the guidance resources that the U of C’s admissions office has. This is a great way to supplement what happens at the high schools and to give more kids access to a fabulous education.
So please, if you know a kid who could benefit from this program, forward this post. There is a process to applying to college, and the kids who need a good education the most often don’t understand how it works.