U of Utah Shifts Admission Policy To Better Address Older Students

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The University of Utah is revising its admissions policy for some older students in the wake of a civil-rights complaint filed by a learning-disabled applicant who was denied admission because he read and wrote at only a fourth-grade level.

A temporary policy, adopted last month while a permanent one is being drafted, spells out in detail the academic benchmarks that those older than 25 who have never been to college must meet for admission. But officials stressed there is plenty of flexibility to admit even those who look bad on paper, as long as they demonstrate they can succeed.

The policy revision affects only applicants who graduated from high school seven or more years before admission and have never been enrolled at a regionally accredited college, a narrow definition that covers fewer than 100 applicants each fall. But the overhaul illustrates how tricky it is for selective universities to assess applicants who haven’t been inside a classroom in several years.

“We want to make sure we take life experiences, military service, work experience, those types of things, into consideration,” said Mary Parker, the U.’s vice president for enrollment management. “This incident has afforded us the opportunity to look at these individuals more holistically.”

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