The COVID-19 pandemic caused financial and practical hardships that resulted in some students getting academically disqualified after being unable to fully focus on their studies. The virtual standstill from the pandemic also caused many adult professionals to re-think or fine-tune their career priorities.

Whether this unprecedented time brought difficulty, or clarity or both, CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) Open University is a solution for non-students who wish to sample a new career field or take courses just for the joy of learning. Open University also provides an opportunity for the academically disqualified former student to work their way back into student status at CSUCI.

“As long as there is room in the classroom, Open University is a way for any member of the public to take any CSUCI course,” said Director of Academic Advising, Ernesto Guerrero, Ed.D.

For those who want to be reinstated as students after being academically disqualified, Open University can help.

“Students who are academically disqualified have to improve their CSUCI grade-point average (GPA) in order to petition to be reinstated,” Guerrero said. “With Open University, they can repeat previous courses to improve their GPA or take additional courses to demonstrate that they have overcome the issues that led to their disqualification in the first place.”

Class of 2017 Performing Arts/Music alumni Christopher Ringor was able to pull himself out of academic disqualification status through Open University and discover a field of study that better suited his goals.

“After I transferred from Ventura College to CSUCI in Fall of 2011, I struggled a lot for the first three semesters while taking Business classes until I was put into academic disqualification,” Ringor said. “After I successfully passed my classes through Open University, I got myself out of academic disqualification in Fall of 2014 and changed my major from Business to Performing Arts. I never gave up my goals.” 

Other stories of academically disqualified students who worked their way back to reinstatement with Open University are posted on

“The classes seemed a lot harder than at community college and there was a distraction…with my mother being ill, having to take care of her and my siblings, since I’m the eldest,” read one story. “I didn’t put a lot of effort in to school, having to still have an income for the family, work, and take care of them. It’s been different because I am older now and going through that stress made me learn how to deal with it.”

Others, like Class of 2017 Psychology alumnus Megan Mulvihill, enrolled in Open University after she spent the time in quarantine nailing down a specific career goal, which involved graduate school.

“I can honestly say I don’t think I would have applied to graduate school if it weren’t for the pandemic,” Mulvihill said. “My company sent everybody home early on and what I found was that removing all that extra stimulation in my life slowed things down in my head and I was able to really focus.”

Semester after semester, Mulvihill drove her 2002 Saturn sedan with the wheezing air conditioner from her Simi Valley home to class in Camarillo. But when she graduated, she still wasn’t entirely clear on what path her career should take.

Mulvihill discovered what she loved when she landed a job as a research assistant at a psychological testing service. She wanted to pursue this field of study in graduate school—but there was a problem.

“When I graduated from CSUCI my GPA was not great,” she said. “A lot of competitive grad schools won’t even look at an applicant with less than a 3.0 GPA. What I needed was the research experience to show I could do it.”

With the help of a former CSUCI faculty member who encouraged her to take independent research classes with Open University, Mulvihill was accepted to her top choice: the University of Kansas.

Mulvihill, who at first had trouble pinpointing a specific career goal, is currently in Lawrence, Kansas preparing for the fall semester when she will begin pursuing a Ph.D. with a very clear focus: Educational Psychology with a specialization in Research Evaluation, Measurement and Statistics.

“Open University is a great way for adults to get into a graduate school, take a course to help them in their career, and get back on track towards their degree,” said Daniel Banyai, Director of Enrollment Management for Extended University, which encompasses the Open University program.

Banyai and Guerrero also wanted to stress that members of the public who have never attended CSUCI are also welcome to take any class offered as long as there is room, so they can check out a field of study that has always intrigued them.

“For example, you can take the same classes a Biology major might take, or a History major might take,” Guerrero said. “Open University is an opportunity to do that.”

One of the formerly academically disqualified students who was reinstated after getting back on track with Open University wanted to encourage others.

“Just keep going, keep working on it,” the now reinstated student wrote. “Even if it takes you a long time, as it has for me, the goal is there and as long as the goal is there, there’s a pathway to go ahead and accomplish it. So, keep going, don’t give up, just find another route towards that goal.”

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