Ranking: The World’s Most Popular Colleges & Universities

Amidst Enrollment Decline, Colleges are Trying Guaranteed Admission

In an effort to make college more accessible, some colleges are implementing a new approach: guaranteed admission.

It’s a new policy that has already made its way to Sonoma State University, where high school students who have completed the requisite coursework and have a minimum 2.5 high school GPA are guaranteed acceptance, CNBC reports.

“We really wanted to provide a more visible pathway,” says Ed Mills, vice president for strategic enrollment at Sonoma State, a member of the California State University system.

Since the school started accepting applications this month for the fall 2024 term, Sonoma State has already seen a 5% increase in its applicant pool.


Sonoma State isn’t the only college trying this new approach out.

Virginia Commonwealth University recently introduced a similar guaranteed admission program, which guarantees a seat for first-year applicants who have a GPA of 3.5 or above and rank in the top 10% of their high school graduating class.

Last year, the State University of New York automatically accepted 125,000 graduating high school seniors in an attempt to help spark interest in college.

“Everybody wins in this scenario,” says Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief and author of “The Best 389 Colleges. Even if acceptance is not guaranteed, “there are so many schools that have reasonable admission standards and many of them are among the best schools in the country.”


The rollout of guaranteed admission policies comes as fewer students are going to college.

Nationwide, undergraduate college enrollment dropped 8% from 2019 to 2022, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse. That’s the steepest drop in college enrollment since 2018.

High cost is one of the biggest barriers for college enrollment. In the 2022-23 school year, the average cost of tuition and fees, along with room and board, at a four-year private college was $53,430. At public colleges, the cost was $23,250.

“There’s a broad-based drop in belief or trust in higher education as an institution,” Cole Clark, a managing director within Deloitte’s higher education practice and co-author of a recent trends report, says. “It’s as much of a threat as the demographic cliff.”

Sources: CNBC, Sonoma State University

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.