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 or poor standardized test scores, or 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 four-year college.
In this article, I'll give you a list of colleges with the highest acceptance rates, explain why they have such high acceptance rates, and introduce the pros and cons of attending these schools.
Why Do These Colleges Have Such High Acceptance Rates?
Whereas 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 school. Colleges with high acceptance rates are more willing to give these students the opportunity to pursue a four-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, while Evergreen State is a progressive liberal arts college.
List of Colleges With the Highest Acceptance Rates
Most of these colleges are state institutions, but there are private religious colleges on the list as well, such as Jarvis Christian College and Wayland Baptist University. There are also private non-sectarian colleges, such as Wilmington University.
I didn't include two-year colleges or for-profit colleges; however, both often have 100% admission rates. Keep in mind that community colleges (two-year colleges) can be a good option to get a low-cost education and offer the possibility of eventually transferring to a four-year college. In fact, many four-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 that they'll offer admission to all applicants who meet their entrance requirements (usually minimal). This is different from colleges that accepted 100% of applicants last year but do not necessarily always do so; these colleges are at least nominally selective in nature.
You might want to consider attending a community college.
|Boston Architectural College||Boston||MA||Open Admission|
|CUNY College of Staten Island||Staten Island||NY||Open Admission|
|City University of Seattle||Seattle||WA||Open Admission|
|Dixie State University||Saint George||UT||Open Admission|
|Granite State College||Concord||NH||Open Admission|
|Jarvis Christian College||Hawkins||TX||Open Admission|
|Missouri Western State University||St. Joseph||MO||Open Admission|
|New Mexico Highlands University||Las Vegas||NM||Open Admission|
|University of Maine at Augusta||Augusta||ME||Open Admission|
|University of Maryland Global Campus||Adelphi||MD||Open Admission|
|University of Pikeville||Pikeville||KY||Open Admission|
|Utah Valley University||Orem||UT||Open Admission|
|Washburn University||Topeka||KS||Open Admission|
|Wayne State College||Wayne||NE||Open Admission|
|Weber State University||Ogden||UT||Open Admission|
|Wiley College||Marshall||TX||Open Admission|
|Wilmington University||New Castle||DE||Open Admission|
|Mary Baldwin University||Staunton||VA||100%|
|Montana State University Northern||Havre||MT||100%|
|Rochester University||Rochester Hills||MI||100%|
|Sul Ross State University||Alpine||TX||100%|
|Thomas More College of Liberal Arts||Merrimack||NH||100%|
|Union Institute & University||Cincinnati||OH||100%|
|Lewis-Clark State College||Lewiston||ID||99%|
|New England College||Henniker||NH||99%|
|Montana State University Billings||Billings||MT||99%|
|University of Texas at El Paso||El Paso||TX||99%|
|Adams State University||Alamosa||CO||99%|
|La Roche University||Pittsburgh||PA||99%|
|Northeastern State University||Tahlequah||OK||99%|
|University of Maine at Fort Kent||Fort Kent||ME||99%|
|Martin Methodist College||Pulaski||TN||98%|
|Mississippi University for Women||Columbus||MS||98%|
|University of Maine at Machias||Machias||ME||98%|
|Covenant College||Lookout Mountain||GA||98%|
|University of the Virgin Islands||St. Thomas||VI||98%|
|Eastern Oregon University||La Grande||OR||97%|
|Wayland Baptist University||Plainview||TX||97%|
|California University of Pennsylvania||California||PA||97%|
|Purdue University Northwest||Hammond||IN||97%|
|Warner Pacific University||Portland||OR||97%|
|Western Kentucky University||Bowling Green||KY||97%|
|Oregon Institute of Technology||Klamath Falls||OR||97%|
|Evergreen State College||Olympia||WA||97%|
|Brewton-Parker College||Mount Vernon||GA||96%|
|University of Southern Mississippi||Hattiesburg||MS||96%|
|Alabama State University||Montgomery||AL||96%|
|Grambling State University||Grambling||LA||96%|
|Missouri Southern State University||Joplin||MO||96%|
|Universidad Adventista de las Antillas||Mayaguez||PR||96%|
|University of Wyoming||Laramie||WY||95%|
|Brigham Young University–Idaho||Rexburg||ID||95%|
|Palm Beach Atlantic University||West Palm Beach||FL||95%|
|Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico–Arecibo||Arecibo||PR||95%|
|Wright State University||Dayton||OH||95%|
|Kansas State University||Manhattan||KS||95%|
CUNY College of Staten Island (CUNY Academic Commons/Flickr)
How to Use This List of Colleges With the Highest Acceptance Rates
If you're considering colleges with high acceptance rates, you should research the colleges that interest you on this list to determine whether you truly want to apply to and attend them. There are several factors to help you determine whether a college is a good fit for you, including location, support services, and the majors offered.
Look at the school's official website and use guidebooks, college finders, college search websites, and other ranking lists to give you some help in the college selection process. If possible, consult with teachers, counselors, parents, current students, and alumni, too.
2 Potential Cons of Attending High Acceptance Rate 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. Make sure to research specific colleges you're interested in to determine the extent to which these concerns apply to a school you're considering.
#1: High Acceptance Rates = Low Prestige
Oftentimes, colleges are judged based on their acceptance rates; as a result, schools with higher acceptance rates tend to have worse reputations than more selective colleges do. While you can most certainly accomplish your academic and professional goals by studying at any college, it can be slightly more difficult to get certain jobs or get admitted to more selective graduate school programs if you went to a less prestigious college or university.
#2: Less Motivated Students
In addition, some of these colleges might 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.
2 Potential Pros of Attending High Acceptance Rate Schools
Although there are considerable potential drawbacks to attending a less selective college, there are also some possible benefits.
#1: Being a Big Fish in a Small Pond
In his book David and Goliath, author Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the benefits of attending less prestigious universities. By competing against fewer gifted students, you're potentially more likely to excel, especially in the most demanding subjects.
Many students who wish to attend medical school or pursue a STEM degree, for example, opt to go to less selective colleges in the hopes that it'll be easier for them to maintain a high GPA and achieve their academic goals.
Most schools with the highest acceptance rates, especially state schools, are much cheaper than selective private colleges. If you don't get generous financial aid at a selective school, you could graduate with a tremendous amount of debt and place a financial burden on your family.
For example, tuition for the 2020-21 academic year at CUNY Medgar Evers College for an in-state student is just $6,930. Meanwhile, tuition for all students at Columbia, an extremely selective Ivy League school in New York City, is $62,430. Keep in mind, however, that many selective private colleges do a good job of meeting your financial need.
Even many private colleges with high acceptance rates are 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 $49,112 tuition for Rice University, a highly selective private school in Houston, Texas.
In addition, less selective schools are more likely to award merit scholarships to outstanding students. At the most selective schools, merit scholarships are a lot less common, since almost all the students have stellar academic credentials.
If you don't qualify for or receive enough need-based financial aid, you might be able to get a merit scholarship from a college with a high acceptance rate.
You could save money if you attend a school with a high acceptance rate. (401(K) 2012/Flickr)
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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.