Nov. 23, 2021
CWU Joins Statewide Effort to Simplify College Application Process
Central Washington University is trying to make the college application process easier and more accessible for prospective students by participating in a new statewide admissions program.
The Guaranteed Admissions Pilot (GAP), introduced earlier this month by the Washington State Council of Presidents, gives high school students who meet certain criteria a direct pathway to higher education at CWU and four other public institutions in the state.
At CWU, graduating high school seniors who earn at least a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average and complete the College Academic Distribution Requirements (CADRs) are guaranteed a place for the next academic year. Students still must complete the application process, but GAP provides incentive for those who may not realize they have access to a college education.
CWU has had a guaranteed admissions program in place for many years, but GAP creates a more unified statewide approach for data sharing. Under the GAP program, partner high schools agree to share with CWU a list of seniors who have earned — or are on track to earn — at least a 3.0 GPA. The university then contacts students and their families to inform them they are eligible for guaranteed admissions.
“One of our primary goals at Central is to remove any potential barriers for young people to pursue higher education,” CWU President Jim Wohlpart said. “GAP streamlines the application process for students, and it gives us new opportunities to engage with them so they will have confidence to take the next step in their education.”
CWU already has partnered with 46 schools in 22 school districts during the program’s pilot year, and is working with others that have expressed interest.
One of the most instrumental partnerships thus far has been with Educational Service District 105, which represents eight of the districts aligned with CWU: Ellensburg, Granger, Selah, Wahluke, Wapato, West Valley, Yakima, and Zillah.
ESD 105 Superintendent Kevin Chase believes GAP could be a game-changer for hundreds of underrepresented students in central and eastern Washington.
“In our region, there are still many first-generation college students who are intimidated by the college application process and decide not to apply because they don't think they will be accepted,” he said. “The ability to receive guaranteed admission to our state universities will promote equity by removing barriers for our students and their families and allowing them a streamlined pathway to postsecondary education.”
CWU’s welcoming culture and ongoing focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives also may encourage students from ESD 105 — many of whom come from underrepresented backgrounds — to complete the application and financial aid processes.
Being able to stay close to home is another selling point for students from Yakima and Kittitas counties as they consider whether to pursue a college degree.
“I like that CWU is so close to home because you can get the whole college experience of living on campus, but you can also go home whenever you want,” said Ronny Hurtado, a senior at Eisenhower High School in Yakima.
Hurtado said he had already considered applying to CWU, but having the university’s admissions staff reach out to him directly gave him a sense of belonging.
“I wasn’t sure what I needed to do, but they helped me with everything, from the application to financial aid paperwork,” he said. “They made everything really easy.”
State lawmakers and the Council of Presidents hope GAP will eventually serve hundreds of students like Hurtado every year. As of mid-November, more than 60 school districts had agreed to participate in GAP during the current academic year.
The rollout of the program came in response to the Washington Student Achievement Council’s call for a more equitable approach to the college admissions process.
Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs, David.Leder@cwu.edu, 509-963-1518.