Open University offers aspiring students a chance to learn

Wishful students who want to continue their education but are not enrolled in a CSUN program are in luck: California State University, Northridge offers a way to do just that.

Open University is a California State University-wide program that has been administered locally at CSUN by Tseng College for over 10 years.

The program allows aspiring students who are not admitted to CSUN to enroll in up to 24 units, granted there is space available.

At most, 24 units completed through Open University can be applied to a bachelor’s degree. Similarly, up to nine units can be earned towards a master’s.

The program has proven intriguing to CSUN students and members of the community.

“Sounds like a good opportunity. The more available education is, the better,” said junior Jazz Studies student Jason Taylor. “I know a few people who are talking about wanting to go back to school… I could see how this type of thing would be useful if you’re not a student and want to go back to school and continue your education.”

Tseng College targets numerous types of individuals who may be interested in beginning or continuing schooling.

“Open University students can be high school students, college students at other universities, working professionals, or anyone interested in earning college credit or learning something new,” said Jessica Isomoto, program coordinator for Tseng College’s University Access Programs.

While the program is primarily aimed at members of the community, past offerings of the platform have been valuable to another group.

“The Open University program is designed to extend the reach of the university to the greater community,” said Isomoto. “But the students frequently turn out to be our own CSUN alumni who need prerequisites for graduate school, disqualified CSUN students who need to raise their GPAs for readmission and CSUN applicants who are waiting to be admitted.”

Students who enroll in courses through Open University are required to meet course prerequisites and receive approval from instructors beforehand.

Registration for courses begins on the first day of each semester. Open University students are expected to show up at desired classes and request permission numbers from their professors.

Students like Arthur Maturo, have found the program invaluable to their scholastic aspirations.

Maturo, who was three units shy of the 24 required to enter an English Master of Arts program, took part in an Open University course last spring.

The student was especially appreciative of the money he saved by enrolling through the platform.

“[Open University] allowed me to take only three units, and pay for only three units,” said Maturo. “As an MA student, I have no choice but to pay for six units even if my schedule allows for only three. This saved me money, although the cost was slightly more per unit than enrolling in a degree program.”

There is a $340 charge per unit for courses taken through Open University.

“Right now I have to pay over $2400 for three units – though I may take up to six – because my work schedule does not allow me to take the full six units,” said Maturo. “Through Open University, I only paid slightly more than $1300 for three units. In addition, I did not have to apply to a program in order to ‘be accepted.’ I could simply sign up and hunt for classes.”

However, like all courses at CSUN, getting into one can prove to be extremely difficult. For Maturo, this reality took a toll on his overall feelings towards Open University.

“I could only enroll in classes that were not full,” said Maturo. “This limited my possibilities greatly. It is not too terrible in the spring, but in the fall it is an absolute nightmare, since classes tend to fill up so quickly.”

Because Open University students are limited in course picks by the amount of seats left in the class, they are directly competing with enrolled at CSUN.

“I ended up taking a class at Pierce College instead of through Open University, because the class I wanted was full and the professor wasn’t willing to over-enroll his class,” said Maturo.

Maturo was also unfamiliar with the payment policy associated with registering with permission numbers. Consequently, he was dropped from one of his classes mere hours after enrolling.

“Once I had gotten a permission number, I was given two hours to pay in full,” said Maturo. “This was problematic since I mistakenly assumed that I had more time to make payments. I had to ask the professor for another permission number… It was the kind of thing that took me by surprise since some permission numbers have an ‘expiration date’ that might not coincide with my paycheck date.”

However, despite the drawbacks Maturo experienced, he plans on taking another course through Open University in the future while “absolutely” recommending the program to others.

For students like Maturo who are looking for ways to complete or benefit their education, Open University may be just the thing they’re looking for.

Students this term have until Feb. 6 to register for courses through Open University, with registration reopening at the beginning of every semester. For more information, visit http://tsengcollege.csun.edu/programs/openuniversity.