The College that Admits Everyone

Barry Lenson

Take your seats, class. We’re going to get a little philosophical today. We’re going to think about this question . . .

“What would happen if you started a college that accepted everybody who applied?”

It’s a tricky question, isn’t it? And it leads to some tricky answers, like these . . .

  • “If everybody got in, why would anybody want to go there?”  Think about this answer. It makes no sense – even from a grammatical point of view.
  • “No good! I want to go to a college that has some exclusivity.” Well, this is another way of saying that you feel special if you go to a college that rejected a lot of other people. And you’re not really that kind of person, are you?
  • “Wouldn’t a lot of people start college who have no hope of graduating?” Think about this answer too.  At lots of colleges today, 30 or 40 percent of the people who were accepted never graduate.  Looks like those colleges also admit lots of people who will not go the distance.  So why not let everybody in, on a “sink or swim” basis?

So maybe it’s not so dumb to contemplate the idea of a college where everybody is allowed to start, and then they have to prove themselves afterwards.

It’s not really a radical idea. It’s exactly what people do when they join the military, the workforce, or hockey teams.

In fact, such an institution does exist where 100 percent of the people who sign up are allowed to take online college courses.  Their success stories show that what makes a school good is the quality of instruction, not its ability to keep people out.

So what if you started a college and everybody came? Maybe it would be the best thing that ever happened to American education.

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