Colleges with high acceptance rates can be good options for you when you’re selecting schools you want to apply to or attend. If you have low grades, standardized test scores, or you need to add safety schools to your list of colleges, these schools can give you more confidence that you’ll be able to gain admission to a 4-year college.
In this article, I’ll give you the list of colleges with the highest acceptance rates, explain why they have such high acceptance rates, and offer pros and cons of attending these schools.
Why Do These Colleges Have Such High Acceptance Rates?
While the most selective colleges are focused on admitting the best and brightest students, colleges with high acceptance rates tend to be more concerned with providing access to higher education to those who meet minimum requirements. Many students face obstacles that prevent them from excelling in high school, and some students just lack motivation while they're in high school. Colleges with high acceptance rates are more willing to give these students the opportunity to pursue a 4-year college degree.
Also, some of the smaller colleges on the list have a particular focus. Most of the students who are applying are qualified students who are interested in attending that specific type of college. For example, BYU-Idaho is a Mormon school and Evergreen State is a progressive liberal arts state institution.
The List of Colleges With the Highest Acceptance Rates
Most of these colleges are state institutions, but there are private religious colleges on the list like Jarvis Christian College and Wayland Baptist University, and there are private non-sectarian colleges like Wilmington University.
I didn’t include 2-year colleges or for-profit colleges; however, both often have 100% admission rates. Keep in mind that community colleges (2-year colleges) can be a good option to get a low-cost education and have the possibility of transferring to a 4-year college. In fact, many 4-year state colleges will offer guaranteed admission from a community college if you fulfill certain requirements.
Note that some of these colleges are designated "open admission," which means they will offer admission to all applicants who meet their entrance requirements (usually minimal). This is different from colleges who accepted 100% of applicants last year but do not necessarily always do so. These colleges are at least nominally selective in nature.
You may want to consider attending a community college.
|Boston Architectural College||Boston||MA||open admission|
|Wilmington College||Wilmington||OH||open admission|
|Wilmington University||New Castle||DE||open admission|
|Cameron University||Lawton||OK||open admission|
|Western International University||Tempe||AZ||open admission|
|University of the Potomac||Washington||DC||open admission|
|Daytona State College||Daytona Beach||FL||open admission|
|Indian River State College||Fort Pierce||FL||open admission|
|University of Pikeville||Pikeville||KY||open admission|
|University of Maryland-University College||Adelphi||MD||open admission|
|Missouri Western State University||St. Joseph||MO||open admission|
|Bismarck State College||Bismarck||ND||open admission|
|Wayne State College||Wayne||NE||open admission|
|Granite State College||Concord||NH||open admission|
|New Mexico Highlands University||Las Vegas||NM||open admission|
|Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City||Oklahoma City||OK||open admission|
|Jarvis Christian College||Hawkins||TX||open admission|
|Dixie College of Utah||Saint George||UT||open admission|
|Utah Valley University||Orem||UT||open admission|
|Weber State University||Ogden||UT||open admission|
|City University of Seattle||Seattle||WA||open admission|
|University of Maine-Augusta||Augusta||ME||open admission|
|University of Akron||Akron||OH||open admission|
|Wright State University||Dayton||OH||open admission|
|Wiley College||Marshall||TX||open admission|
|Trinity International University||Deerfield||IL||100.00%|
|Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College||St. Mary-of-the-Woods||IN||100.00%|
|Metropolitan State University||St. Paul||MN||100.00%|
|Montana State University - Northern||Havre||MT||100.00%|
|University of Texas-El Paso||El Paso||TX||99.89%|
|Brigham Young University-Idaho||Rexburg||ID||99.62%|
|Montana State University-Billings||Billings||MT||99.47%|
|Edinboro University of Pennsylvania||Edinboro||PA||99.30%|
|Lyndon State College||Lyndonville||VT||99.14%|
|Lewis-Clark State College||Lewiston||ID||99.04%|
|Evergreen State College||Olympia||WA||98.90%|
|Grand View University||Des Moines||IA||98.70%|
|Paul Smith's College||Paul Smith's||NY||98.43%|
|Utah State University||Logan||UT||97.83%|
|Wayland Baptist University||Plainview||TX||97.74%|
|University of Wyoming||Laramie||WY||97.66%|
|Western State Colorado University||Gunnison||CO||97.41%|
|Maine College of Art||Portland||ME||97.33%|
|Martin Luther College||New Ulm||MN||97.32%|
|University of Sioux Falls||Sioux Falls||SD||97.24%|
|East Central University||Ada||OK||97.19%|
|University of St. Francis||Fort Wayne||IN||96.86%|
|Covenant College||Lookout Mountain||GA||96.60%|
|Missouri Southern State University||Joplin||MO||96.00%|
|New England College||Henniker||NH||95.70%|
|Wichita State University||Wichita||KS||95.53%|
|Johnson State College||Johnson||VT||95.46%|
|Mary Baldwin College||Staunton||VA||95.45%|
|Palm Beach Atlantic University||West Palm Beach||FL||95.30%|
|Indiana Wesleyan University||Marion||IN||95.05%|
|Kansas State University||Manhattan||KS||94.93%|
|University of Central Arkansas||Conway||AR||94.46%|
|Bethel University||St. Paul||MN||94.43%|
|Tennessee Technological University||Cookeville||TN||94.41%|
|Colorado Christian University||Lakewood||CO||94.33%|
|Lubbock Christian University||Lubbock||TX||94.32%|
|Governers State University||University Park||IL||94.10%|
|La Roche College||Pittsburgh||PA||93.90%|
|CUNY-College of Staten Island||Staten Island||NY||93.87%|
|Southern Vermont College||Bennington||VT||93.73%|
|Westminster College||New Wilmington||PA||93.66%|
|Mississippi University for Women||Columbus||MS||93.60%|
|Sweet Briar College||Sweet Briar||VA||93.54%|
|Bemidji State University||Bemidji||MN||93.50%|
|Davenport University||Grand Rapids||MI||93.38%|
|Western Kentucky University||Bowling Green||KY||93.32%|
|University of the Incarnate Word||San Antonio||TX||93.21%|
|Colorado State University-Pueblo||Pueblo||CO||92.77%|
|University of Montana||Missoula||MT||92.72%|
|Clarion University of Pennsylvania||Clarion||PA||92.71%|
|College of Coastal Georgia||Brunswick||GA||92.35%|
|South Dakota State University||Brookings||SD||92.01%|
|CUNY-Medgar Evers College||Brooklyn||NY||91.94%|
|University of Kansas||Lawrence||KS||91.42%|
|North Central University||Minneapolis||MN||91.20%|
|University of Houston-Downtown||Houston||TX||91.00%|
|Mansfield University of Pennsylvania||Mansfield||PA||90.70%|
|Bard College at Simon's Rock||Great Barrington||MA||89.39%|
CUNY College of Staten Island (CUNY Academic Commons/Flickr)
How Should You Use This List?
If you’re considering colleges with high acceptance rates, you should research the colleges that interest you on this list to determine if they’re schools you should apply to or attend. There are many factors to help determine if a college is a good fit for you including location, support services, and the majors offered.
Look at the school’s website, and use guidebooks, college finders, search websites, and other ranking lists to help you in the college selection process. If possible, consult with teachers, counselors, parents, current students, and alumni.
Possible Concerns With Attending These Schools
The schools with the highest acceptance rates are not all the same, but I'm going to generalize potential issues with going to a less selective college. You should research specific colleges you're interested in to determine the extent to which these concerns apply to a school you're considering.
Often, schools are judged based on their acceptance rates. Schools with higher acceptance rates tend to have worse reputations than more selective colleges. While you can accomplish your academic and professional goals by studying at any college, it can be more difficult to get certain jobs or admitted to more selective graduate school programs from a less prestigious university.
Also, some of these colleges can have students who are less academically inclined or motivated. In college, you learn from and are often inspired by your peers. More selective schools tend to have a greater percentage of driven students with advanced academic skills.
Possible Benefits of Attending These Schools
Although there are considerable potential drawbacks to attending a less selective college, there are also some possible benefits.
"Being a Big Fish in a Small Pond"
In his book David and Goliath, author Malcolm Gladwell wrote of the benefits of attending less prestigious universities. If you're competing against fewer gifted students, you may be more likely to excel, especially in the most demanding subjects. Many students who wish to attend medical school or pursue a STEM degree opt to go to a less selective college in the hopes that it will be easier to maintain a high GPA and achieve their academic goals.
Most of the schools with the highest acceptance rates, especially the state schools, are much cheaper than selective private colleges. If you don’t get generous financial aid at a selective school, you may graduate with tremendous debt or place a financial burden on your family. For example, the tuition and mandatory fees for the 2016-2017 academic year at Tennessee Tech for an in-state student are $8,551. Just the tuition for Vanderbilt, a selective private college in Nashville, Tennessee, is $43,838. Keep in mind, though, that many of the more selective private colleges do a good job of meeting your financial need.
Even many of the private colleges with high acceptance rates are much more affordable than selective private colleges. The tuition and fees for Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas are $11,720. That's significantly cheaper than the $43,918 tuition and fees for Rice University, a selective private school in Houston, Texas.
Also, less selective schools are more likely to award merit scholarships for outstanding students. At the most selective schools, merit scholarships are less common since almost all of the students have stellar academic credentials. If you don't qualify for or receive enough need-based financial aid, you may be able to get a merit scholarship from a college with a high acceptance rate.
You might save money if you attend a school with a high acceptance rate. (401(K) 2012/Flickr)
Finally, regardless of the acceptance rates of the colleges you're applying to, it's important to know how to apply to college.
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Justin has extensive experience teaching SAT prep and guiding high school students through the college admissions and selection process. He is firmly committed to improving equity in education and helping students to reach their educational goals. Justin received an athletic scholarship for gymnastics at Stanford University and graduated with a BA in American Studies.