If you were someone that had bad grades in high school, you might have despaired of ever going to college. Add to that some bad SAT or ACT test scores and you’re definitely sunk. For some students, academics isn’t a strength but they may still have career goals that are locked behind the realm of a four-year degree.  Fortunately, if this sounds like your situation, then you may be able to benefit from open enrollment.

Sometimes You Just Need a Second Chance

What is Open Enrollment or Open Admissions?

Open enrollment or open admissions reduce the admission criteria to just a high school diploma or GED equivalent.  The rest of the requirements are a lot more streamlined:  a placement test, application forms and fees, proof of high school graduation, and additional English proficiency testing for international students.

Generally speaking, community colleges are open admission since their main goal is to make associate degree level education accessible for all students.  There are a few universities that follow this same philosophy as well, in addition to some veteran-friendly schools that waive strict requirements.

Because of the generous nature of these schools, there may be limited space if there are more applicants than there are seats.

Benefits of Open Enrollment

There are a lot of benefits to entering a program with open enrollment. These schools are typically more affordable than schools with more restrictive admissions policies. Getting into school can be a ruthless and cutthroat activity, but with open enrollment, a lot of that difficulty is taken away.  In a sense, you don’t have to “pay” to compete before you even get to the classroom.  When you don’t have to worry about what schools are going to reject you and what schools will accept you based on your test scores, a lot of the anxiety of university application goes away.

However, because the selection process is much more open, the competition in classes isn’t as stiff either. That can be both a good and a bad thing, depending on where you sit on the need for competition spectrum. Since open enrollment lacks the stringent academic requirements of other programs, your classmates may not be the “brightest” of the batch.

But does that really matter? No. Students in an open enrollment school may find that they actually thrive in an environment where there isn’t the stiff competition between students. A degree earned online from an accredited school is just as good as a degree earned through traditional methods. And really, it’s not how fast you earn the degree, it’s what you get out of it that counts.

Without further ado, here are the top online programs with open enrollment. These schools were ranked based on our own proprietary formulas and statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics.

15 Best Open Enrollment Colleges Online

1. Liberty University 

  • Student to faculty ratio 18:1
  • Percent receiving aid: 97%
  • Average net cost: $26,954
  • Graduation rate: 47%
  • Retention rate: 84%

The top open enrollment college on our list is Liberty University. Liberty University is a private, non-profit Christian University based in Central Virginia. Students come to Liberty for the opportunity to earn a solid Christian foundation as well as an education. As a religious liberal arts school, they are committed to academic excellence and training champions for Christ. Amazingly, tuition costs at Liberty University have not increased in three years, despite rising program costs across other online schools and university campuses. Liberty University offers online associates, bachelors, master, and doctoral degrees in a wide variety of fields and specializations. Liberty even offers a unique dual enrollment program for high school students looking to get ahead in the game.

2. Grand Canyon University 

  • Student to faculty ratio 19:1
  • Percent receiving aid: 99%
  • Average net cost: $20,912
  • Graduation rate:  41%
  • Retention rate: 66%

Grand Canyon University finds its home in Phoenix, Arizona. Located at the heart of the desert state, it has served the local community for almost 70 years. Where it once teetered on the edge of insolvency due to a lack of financial support, GCU has redefined itself and is now a bastion of study with more than 60,000 students enrolled online. In fact, over 47% of the online student population are graduate students, and that percentage continues to grow. GCU offers bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees in eight different fields. This open enrollment college online believes courses should be challenging,  rather than the transfer or financing process. GCU will request your transcripts, evaluate your graduate coursework and determine your anticipated graduation date within 24 hours.

3. Baker College (Flint, Michigan)

  • Student to faculty ratio 7:1
  • Percent receiving aid:  96%
  • Average net cost: $12,983
  • Graduation rate: 13%
  • Retention rate: 45%

Coming in at number three on our list is Baker College, from the great lakes state of Michigan. Baker College believes that you don’t have to put your life on hold to get an education. To that end, the school strives hard to provide a high-quality education that will help you achieve your career goals from day one. Even though Baker College is one of the state’s largest independent, not-for-profit universities, thanks to its amazing student to faculty ratio, students always receive the help they need to succeed. This school offers a wide variety of online associate, bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees. Baker’s online programs are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week so that students don’t need to rearrange their entire lives for an education.

  • Student to faculty ratio 31:1
  • Percent receiving aid: 95%
  • Average net cost: $20,995
  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • Retention rate: 97%

Located in the northwest of the magic city of Miami, Florida National University finds its home in the Hialeah area. Much like the city it belongs to, the student body population of Florida National University is very diverse though primarily Hispanic. Indeed, it’s this focus on the student body that makes the school stand out from its peers. FNU prides itself on understanding the needs of students from immigrant backgrounds in the US or students who have not used English at home or in school. The school welcomes non-native English speakers into its student body and helps them adapt to the larger community. FNU offers more than 25 different associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in a number of different fields.

5. Granite State College

  • Student to faculty ratio  11:1
  • Percent receiving aid: 90%
  • Average net cost: $12,905
  • Graduation rate: 14%
  • Retention rate: 43%

Representing the New England region of the country, Granite State College is a public college in Concord, New Hampshire. Granite State College is a pioneer in distance education. More than 40 years ago, the school embraced the idea that if a student was motivated to pursue a college education, then they should have access to it. Today the pursuit of that goal has been realized in the form of online programs that offer virtual and in-person support to students and working adults. Routinely ranked among the top online degree programs (like this ranking!), GSC is known for providing quality education in areas of study that match the needs of employers. This school offers online associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs as well as teacher certification.

6. Sullivan University

  • Student to faculty ratio 15:1
  • Percent receiving aid: 93%
  • Average net cost: $25,843
  • Graduation rate: 32%
  • Retention rate: 50%

From the bluegrass state most famous for its horse racing (and fried chicken) is Sullivan University. Originally founded as a business college, Sullivan University today is a school that believes in its students, and most importantly it believes that it can help students jump-start their careers. The institution has come a long way from its sleepy associate degree-granting roots and now offers the full range of degrees, from associates to doctorate degrees. Sullivan University firmly believes that education should be available to all those that are seeking it. To that end, financial assistance is available for students of all ages. Combined with the flexibility of online programs, students are able to begin shaping their future career right away at Sullivan.

7. National American University

  • Student to faculty ratio 17:1
  • Percent receiving aid: 67%
  • Average net cost: $15,428
  • Graduation rate: 12%
  • Retention rate: 75%

National American University is a for-profit school located in Rapid City, South Dakota in the shadow of the black hills.  Since 1941, this school has provided quality educations to thousands of recipients all across the country. And when we say all across the country, we mean it. NAU has locations in multiple states including Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. What this means for students is that they can enjoy online programs as well as hybrid formats with ease.  NAU offers more than 60 different online degree programs and a number of scholarships to help students with their tuition costs.

8. Bellevue University

  • Student to faculty ratio 40:1
  • Percent receiving aid: 89%
  • Average net cost: $11,359
  • Graduation rate: 17%
  • Retention rate: 74%

Though it feels like every other state in the country has a Bellevue, Bellevue, Nebraska is the home of this university. Bellevue University is famous for being a top-quality institution of higher education. One of their best-kept secrets? No classes on Fridays. Bellevue’s “Real Mastery” approach helps students master the knowledge and skills employers are looking for. For over 50 years, Bellevue has built a reputation of being able to meet the needs of adult students by implementing flexible class schedules and a variety of career-relevant degree options. With a shift to online and hybrid classes, students are able to continue their education and rest assured that they are getting the most value for their dollar. Online students are able to select from cohort or traditional format programs to fit their lifestyles. Students are also able to access educational support tools 24/7.

9. Salem International University

  • Student to faculty ratio 24:1
  • Percent receiving aid: 95%
  • Average net cost: $19,540
  • Graduation rate: 22%
  • Retention rate: 48%

Finding its home in West Virginia, Salem International University was originally founded by the Seventh-day Baptist Church in 1888. Since then the school has provided degree programs with a strong foundation in the liberal arts. Salem has had 130 years to perfect its craft–a Salem degree is designed to provide the insight, knowledge, and skills to get ahead in the professional world. If you’re someone that has difficulty multitasking, then this school is definitely one for you. Salem University takes pride in its unique one course per month format that allows students to focus on one class at a time, and move forward at an accelerated pace. Salem University offers a wide range of online degrees from the associate to doctorate level in a broad range of disciplines.

Further Reading: Cheapest Accredited Online Colleges

10. National University

  • Student to faculty ratio 19:1
  • Percent receiving aid: 52%
  • Average net cost: $23,232
  • Graduation rate: 42%
  • Retention rate:  57%

National University is a veteran founded, nonprofit school that has 28 locations all across California and Nevada. What sets this school apart from its peers is that National University was founded by veterans for military students from all branches of the armed services–at home, on base, and abroad. NU features one-month classes specifically designed for military students that are offered online, on campus, and at over a dozen military bases. National University has a niche for everyone and offers more than 130 different online degrees from the associate’s to the master’s level.

11. Colorado Technical University (Colorado Springs)

  • Student to faculty ratio  28:1
  • Percent receiving aid: 86%
  • Average net cost: $15,888
  • Graduation rate: 26%
  • Retention rate: 44%

Colorado Technical University in Colorado Springs, Colorado was founded in 1965 to help armed forces veterans transition back into civilian life through education. From that day on, the school has maintained a close tie to the military and a commitment to the men and women serving at home and abroad that has never wavered. Since 2008 CTU has awarded over $8.5 million in scholarships to wounded warriors and their families.  CTU’s online programs rank among the best in the country. Reflecting the interests and needs of veterans of the armed services, CTU offers over 100 different degrees from the associate level to the doctorate level covering fields like criminal justice, criminal justice for veterans, business administration, computer information technology, and engineering.

12. Kaplan University/Purdue University Global

  • Student to faculty ratio 19:1
  • Percent receiving aid: 60%
  • Average net cost: $17,458
  • Graduation rate: 39%
  • Retention rate: 33%

In 2017 Purdue University, one of the biggest universities in the country, acquired Kaplan University, a powerhouse of the adult education industry. This acquisition created a new entity: Purdue University Global. Purdue University Global is designed for adult students who need flexible degree programs. By combining the respected reputation and academic standards of Purdue University with the online assets of Kaplan, PUG is an online school that is impossible to ignore and a great value for students everywhere. In fact, Purdue Global does something that no other university does–a three-week introductory period. Students can try classes for 3 weeks for free so they can experience what classes are like before making a  decision.

13. University of Maryland University College

  • Student to faculty ratio 19:1
  • Percent receiving aid: 56%
  • Average net cost: $15,256
  • Graduation rate: 9%
  • Retention rate: 38%

Which is it? A university or a college? The school that knows that it’s a bit of a mouthful, University of Maryland University College, actually captures what the institution does quite clearly: take courses and programs from all academic departments and offer them outside of the campus and normal class times. For more than 70 years, UMUC has been there to meet the complicated time needs of students. Since its foundation in 1947, it has offered flexible classes to meet the needs of GIs returning from World War II. Today, the school still is a leader in providing higher education to the U.S. military. UMUC offers online and hybrid classes, as well as evening and weekend classes so that students can get the education they need when they want it.

14. Argosy University

  • Student to faculty ratio  16:1
  • Percent receiving aid: 93%
  • Average net cost: $27,440
  • Graduation rate: 5%
  • Retention rate: 36%

Argosy University is located all over the country with campuses from Hawaii to Virginia. An Argosy program is designed to help students receive the knowledge, ethical values, and interpersonal skills required to succeed in the workplace. But those attributes aren’t enough for Argosy graduates. An Argosy graduate is also defined by their social responsibility and how they give back to the various communities to which they belong.  Argosy programs are designed with flexibility in mind. Classes are taken one at a time and typically last 5-7.5 weeks. There’s an app for that –  not every class requires you to be on a computer and can be accessed from a mobile device.

15. Capella University

  • Student to faculty ratio  22:1
  • Percent receiving aid: 100%
  • Average net cost: $15,667
  • Graduation rate: Not Available
  • Retention rate: 50%

Cappella University is a big name in online masters degree programs and it’s easy to see why. They’ve been growing rapidly and have been on the forefront of helping not only students but employers recognize the benefits of graduates with an online degree (hint: there’s no difference between an online and offline degree).  What makes Cappella programs so unique is that you can access course materials on your computer, tablet, or mobile device. Capella has developed a one-of-a-kind tool that allows students to visually track their assignments and percent completion in the course so that students will always know where they stand after each assignment and where they may need additional help.

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