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Open University program offers classes to community

By Angela Sasaki

Open University is a Fresno State program that gives people in the community the opportunity to take university courses.

Scott Moore, associate dean for the Division of Continuing and Global Education, said more than 1,000 people enroll in the program each year.

There is no application process, Moore said. Members of the community are permitted to sign up for classes if there is room after admitted students have enrolled in their classes.

“What we are doing here is opening up space for people that aren’t students to take classes that aren’t counting toward a degree,” Moore said. “Anybody in the community that wants to take a class can do so based on the space that’s available.”

Though the program is for members of the community, Moore said that some international students might be able to participate, depending on their visa restrictions.

“There’s an office on campus that will look at each individual student’s eligibility based on their immigration status and what their goals are,” Moore said. “They’ll authorize them to take classes or not, depending on what the government has allowed them to do.”

Since there is no application process, a student interested in taking classes through the program deals with teachers directly, Moore said.

“They would attend the very first day of class and get a permission number to enroll, and then we would assist them in completing that registration and payment process.”

Open University students pay for classes by the unit, Moore said.

“The state of California does not subsidize Open University. The students pay the full cost of their education at $295 a unit, plus any additional course fees,” he explained.

Moore said that people in the program join for various reasons, but that the majority of them are former students looking to be readmitted.

“They’ll retake classes they failed or classes they need in order to raise their GPA, and then they can reapply to the university if they’ve improved their academic record sufficiently,” Moore said.

Frank Fincalero, 19, is taking courses through Open University this semester.

“I was originally a student here, but I did badly my first semester, so I decided to do Open University instead of going to City College,” he said.

Fincalero wants to pursue a career as a pharmacist and said the program is a good option for him because it will help raise his GPA and give him a better chance of being readmitted.

His goal is to reapply to the university by spring or winter of 2014.

Fincalero said he likes that he doesn’t have to start over at a community college.

“It’s the same professors, and I’m not going to go through Fresno City or go through the process of transferring my units from there to here,” he said.

Nicola Di Cicco, 26, is also taking classes through Open University this semester.

Di Cicco said he originally attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business economics, but is trying to get into Fresno State to further his degree.

“I’m trying to become a doctor now,” Di Cicco said. “So I need some upper-division science classes, which is where Fresno State comes in.”

Open University is a good access point for non-matriculated students, Moore said.

“It benefits people in the community who are interested in completing some sort of higher education goal, whether it’s just a refresher of topics, learning for the sake of learning or if it’s a disqualified student trying to gain readmission.”