If you’re thinking of returning to school after a break – perhaps a stretch of time in the work force after high school or after taking a few college courses – you may feel some apprehension about being able to get into a good school.
Admissions are indeed very competitive at the most prestigious colleges and universities. But if you are looking for career-oriented learning, there’s a wide variety of online schools you can choose from that have “open admissions policies,” meaning that they accept all students who can fill certain basic qualifications.
An Old Idea That’s Grown
“Open admission” or “open enrollment” have been around for several decades. They were started as a way to give more students – especially those from lower income backgrounds – a better chance to get a higher education. An argument that’s long been made is that competitive admissions may favor students who happen to live in towns that have the best high schools, and therefore get the kind of training that helps them do better on SAT tests. Open admissions can helps equalize opportunity a bit more. Two year community colleges were the strongest proponents of open or “inclusive” admissions in the 1960’s and 70’s. But particularly in the online education field, there are now more four-year schools and graduate programs offering it.
It’s important to understand that “open admission” does not mean a school is allowing anyone who can pay the tuition to attend. To enter a bachelor’s degree program, for example, you can expect to be required to prove that you are fluent in English and that you have completed a high school degree. If you’re not a native English speaker, you may be asked to take the Test of English Language as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or similar test.
GPA Yes, SAT No
If you have taken some college credits already and want to transfer them into your new school, it’s likely that you will only be able to transfer them if you earned a minimum grade in each. (Spend some time looking at your prospective new school’s website though – the minimums vary a good deal not only from one school to another, but even from one program to another within a single school.) It’s not unusual for a school to have a minimum GPA for high school grads wanting admission.
If you are applying for a master’s or doctoral degree program at an open admissions school, you may be asked to submit licensure documents (as in nursing) an essay or goals statement, or to take part in an interview with faculty members. For associate’s and bachelor’s programs, however, you will almost never be asked to submit SAT, ACT, GMAT or GRE test scores.
Some have argued that open admissions have pulled down the standards at some campus-based schools. But given that it takes few additional resources to teach larger classes over the internet, it’s not clear how open admissions would negatively impact an online degree program.
Here are some of the online schools that currently have open admissions policies. You’ll note that it includes a relatively large percentage of for-profit schools. They have tended to be the most aggressive in providing options to adult students seeking career training:
American Sentinal University
Colorado Technical University
American Intercontinental University
Grand Canyon University
University of Phoenix
National American University