Age restriction for admission to U of I may soon be eliminated

An age restriction barring admission of younger students to the University of Illinois may soon become obsolete.

Senate Bill 263, sponsored by State Sen. Michael Frerichs, recently passed unanimously in the Senate and with only a single nay vote in the House. The legislation was sent to Gov. Pat Quinn for approval, but has not yet been signed.

If approved, the bill will require the University to remove the minimum age restriction from its admission policy.

Current guidelines state that applicants must be at least 15 years of age at the time of desired enrollment.

No other four-year public university in Illinois has this restriction.

Frerichs stated in an e-mail that he introduced the legislation after meeting with Kelsey Caetano-Anolles, a young applicant who was initially denied admission to the University.

After graduating high school at an age when most of her peers were just entering as freshmen, Caetano-Anolles applied for admission to the University, where her father is a professor of crop sciences.

She was turned down, not because of her academic performance, but because she was not yet 15.

“After meeting with her, I could tell that she was academically, mentally and socially prepared to enter into college,” Frerichs said in the email.

So Frerichs moved forward with the legislation and, earlier this year, Caetano-Anolles provided testimony to the State Senate’s Higher Education Committee.

“It was unfair that students were blocked by this troublesome legislation discriminating against young students with a lot of potential to pursue studies at their institution of choice here in Illinois,” Caetano-Anolles said. “Age should have never been a factor in the selection process of U of I students, and that is the reason this legislation needed to be eradicated.”

While Caetano-Anolles acknowledged that there have been some concerns about younger students’ maturity levels and their ability to cope with the pressures of college life, she suggested that the University could implement an interview process to evaluate students on those rare occasions.

Now 15-years-old, Caetano-Anolles, is currently enrolled at the University and is pursuing degrees in both political science and psychology. Though the road for her has not been easy, she is optimistic that the new bill will prevent other young prospective University students from facing the same challenges she did.

Mike Lillich, assistant director of the Office for University Relations, said the University is also backing the new legislation.

“We supported the bill because it was an antiquated provision, and it only applied to the U of I,” Lillich said. “Our admission policy is to admit the best qualified applicants.”