open enrollment

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open enrollment, a policy of admitting to college all high-school graduates in an effort to provide a higher education for all who desire it. To critics it means an inevitable lowering of standards as a considerable effort must be devoted to development of basic skills. The most ambitious programs of open enrollment in the United States have been undertaken in California and New York City. Under California's system, codified in 1960, high-school graduates in the top eighth of their class may attend a Univ. of California campus. Those in the top third qualify for a state university. All the rest may attend a two-year community college. New York City's plan, begun in 1970, guarantees every high-school graduate, academic or vocational, a place in a city college. In the 1980s and 90s many educational institutions partially reversed such policies and tightened admission requirements.

See D. Lavin, Right Versus Privilege (1981).

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o·pen en·roll·ment • n. 1. the unrestricted enrollment of students at schools, colleges, or universities of their choice. 2. a period during which a health insurance company or HMO is statutorily required to accept applicants without regard to health history. ∎  such a period when employees can change insurance plans offered by their employer, without proof of insurability.