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2008 Spotlight

Community College

Section 1. Institutional Characteristics

Admission Criteria

Unlike most 4-year colleges and universities, the great majority of community colleges (95 percent in 2005–06) have an “open admissions” policy, which means that students neither need to compete for admission at a set time of the year nor demonstrate a level of academic proficiency to enroll (see table 1). Instead, anyone can apply (and be admitted) year round. However, admission does not mean students can freely take any courses for academic credit. In many community college systems, admitted students are not eligible to take courses for academic credit in particular subjects until they demonstrate certain levels of proficiency in those subjects or have completed remedial courses in the subjects.11 Moreover, at times community colleges cap enrollments in courses or reduce course offerings in some subject areas (Evelyn 2003).

In the 2005–06 academic year, only 4 percent of community colleges reported having one or more requirements for admission. The most commonly reported admission requirement for community colleges in 2005–06 was a high school record (required by 4.2 percent of community colleges), followed by the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) (required by 3.9 percent), college admission test scores, such as the SAT or ACT (required by 2.4 percent), and high school grades (required by 2.2 percent).


11 In many community colleges, students need to pass college placement tests in particular subject areas to take academic courses in those subject areas (College for Adults 2006). (back to text)

Figures and Tables

Table 1: Percentage of degree–granting institutions with first–year undergraduates using various selection criteria for admission, by control and type of institution: 2005–06

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education