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ASU welcomes more than 4K Earned Admission students


Person working on school work in bed
November 16, 2022

Editor’s note: This story is featured in the 2022 year in review.

For Shannon Lauritsen, a 33-year-old hair stylist in Nashville, Tennessee, going to college was a lifelong dream. But for her, like others, the traditional high-school-to-college path was challenging. 

“I struggled to focus and succeed in high school,” Lauritsen says. “I even had a guidance counselor laugh at my desire to apply to college. After high school, I attempted a few semesters in community college, which proved even more challenging for me at the time. It significantly impacted my GPA.”

woman's portrait in kitchen

Shannon Lauritsen

Determined to move forward, Lauritsen went on to learn a trade and opened her own business. But she never gave up on her goal of going to college. In 2020, she applied to Arizona State University but didn’t get admitted due to her academic transcript. However, the university provided her with another path forward. She was directed to ASU’s innovative college pathway Earned Admissions

“Earned Admissions was such a gift,” she says. “It allowed me to prove to myself that I was ready for this challenge, without the pressure that comes with loans and a full-time course load. Now I’m part of the Barrett Honors College, and I am so proud of what ASU has helped me achieve.” 

Lauritsen blazed a new path into an ASU degree program — and she’s now joined by more than 4,000 other Sun Devils on the Earned Admissions pathway.

Creating new pathways into college

For many learners, the traditional pathway to college is broken. 84% of U.S. high school students want to go on to higher education, but only 66% of them go to college. Of those who enroll in college, 40% never finish — leaving many learners with student loans and no degree. A 2022 National Student Clearinghouse Research Center report found that more than 39 million Americans have some college experience but no credentials, leaving them at risk of being left out of the 21st century economy. 

“Traditional higher education in the U.S. creates force fields that keep people out," said Maria Anguiano, executive vice president of ASU Learning Enterprise. "Too many learners fall off the traditional path, with no way to get back onto a college pathway.

"At ASU, we are challenging the status quo and lowering the force fields that keep people from pursuing their learning goals. The 4,000 people that have been admitted into ASU through our Earned Admissions pathway proves that people need more flexibility and options in gaining admission into a research university"

The Earned Admissions pathway is powered by ASU’s Universal Learner Courses (ULCs). These courses are first-year ASU college courses offered online and open to everyone. ULCs enable learners to test the college waters by earning college credit for a fraction of the cost: $25 to register and $400 only if they are satisfied with their grade. Once learners complete their required ULC courses with a 2.75 GPA or higher, Earned Admission gives them the opportunity to gain admission into ASU or transfer their credits to any institution that accepts ASU credits. 

After serving more than 15 years as a high school leader, Kimberly Merritt, vice president of ASU’s Learning Enterprise, knows the shortcomings of the traditional college path firsthand.

“I saw the system fail learners time and time again,” Merritt says. “ASU is creating new pathways to higher education that meet learners where they are in life. With 4,000 success stories and counting, our Earned Admissions program is proving to be a new model with the potential to create enormous opportunities for economic and social mobility.” 

Earning admission, finding success

The Earned Admissions college pathway has provided more than 4,000 students — and growing — with access to the nation’s most innovative degree programs. The early data demonstrates that they are thriving at ASU.

“Our academic community believes that our world-class undergraduate degrees should be available to learners who demonstrate the ability to succeed in university-level coursework,” says Nancy Gonzales, executive vice president and university provost at ASU. “Each person’s educational journey is unique. It depends on personal circumstances and goals that often make it challenging to fit within one prescribed path to a degree.

"Universal Learner Courses are one example of an ASU approach that honors that reality and empowers more learners to make progress toward their goals. We proudly welcome the new students who earned their spot at ASU by succeeding in these ASU courses.”

“Earned Admissions has been a game changer for me,” Lauritsen says. "It’s given me so much confidence and opened up new possibilities for the future. Regardless of the path you take at the end of a Universal Learner Course, you will learn something new and grow in interesting ways.

"My Earned Admission journey was a wonderful experience — I hope more students join me.”

Written by James Knutila, ASU Learning Enterprise.

Top photo from Pexels.

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