May 19, 2023: ASU student credits innovative program with transforming his life after illness
James Galica was in third grade when he decided school wasn’t for him. It was 1999 and his older brother, Galica’s self-proclaimed “idol,” had just dropped out of high school.
“I’ve gone from being a kid who looked forward to going to school to an annoyance who couldn’t wait for school to finish every day,” says Galica.
One day, in high school, he didn’t have much of a choice. What began as a case of pneumonia during Galica’s junior year ended with Galica spending a significant portion of his senior year in the hospital. His health problems prompted a change of heart.
“Due to health reasons, I realized I didn’t want to end up like my brother. I wanted a chance to prove myself.”
Balancing health and education
Though he managed to graduate from high school, the next few years would be a whirlwind one for Galica. His health continued to deteriorate and he found that he had to undergo heart surgery twice.
After Galica completed rehab following his second heart surgery in 2020, he applied to Arizona State University. He was devastated to learn that he had been denied admission not only to ASU but to every university and community college he had applied to.
However, ASU offered James an alternative route to college: a place in the Earned Admissions program.
“Earned Admissions” enables a fresh start
The Earned Admissions program at ASU offers prospective students like Galica the opportunity to enroll in first-year ASU college courses online. Students only pay if they pass the course, and course fees are heavily discounted. Students who complete all required Universal Learner courses with a GPA of 2.75 or higher are eligible for admission to ASU. Upon request, credits can also be taken into account at other universities.
This unique program allows prospective students to “test” the college.
For Galica, the transition into higher education work via the Universal Learner Courses was challenging but ultimately proved transformative.
“Not all classes will be easy,” says James. “If it’s hard, that’s fine. Don’t think you’re not destined for college. I promise, the first semester you’ve been away from school for so long—there’s so much, but it gets so much easier.”
In the end, Galica passed the program with flying colours. He attributes his success to the patience of his ASU professors, who were always willing to meet with him and explain a concept again when he got stuck. Most notably, Galica says he was inspired to persevere with the program by the example of his mother, a paralegal whose work ethic always impressed him.
The online classes also helped Galica develop his own work ethic and discipline.
“Yes, the television is there. “Yes, my phone is there,” he says. “But I have to block out those things and do whatever I can to get my job done.”
The online mode was also crucial in allowing Galica to continue his schooling during the pandemic as his health condition prevented him from attending classes in person.
Galica is now a junior at ASU and says he would “never in a million years” be in that position were it not for the Earned Admissions program.
Intentional design for accessibility and opportunity
“The Earned Admissions program was an important bridge in getting people like James into college,” said Maria Anguiano, executive vice president of ASU’s Learning Enterprise — the arm of ASU focused on creating learning opportunities at every stage of life . “James’ story is so important because it shows us that we need to create a variety of options and entry points into higher education – it cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone at the ASU Learning Enterprise is so proud of what they have accomplished.”
The technology-focused, affordable, and accessible nature of the Earned Admissions program embodies the mission of ASU’s Learning Enterprise, which is one of the three core functions of ASU Enterprise, along with Academic Enterprise and Knowledge Enterprise.
Learning Enterprise was born out of the realization that the traditional college experience and admissions process excludes many promising students, such as B. Parents juggling family life, adults over 65 and those like Galica who need an online school option.
By creating flexible, innovative learning opportunities like the Earned Admissions program, Learning Enterprise brings ASU’s extensive research, teaching and technology resources to the broader community.
I pay it forward
After Galica’s acceptance into ASU, he decided to major in history. He credits him with being able to find the right degree program and discussing course selection with his advisory team.
Jeffrey Cohen, ASU Dean of Humanities at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, recognizes Galica as a strong example of the Earned Admissions program.
“Every student deserves to find a path to success,” says Cohen. “No one should be held back by their own past; Everyone should have the chance to learn from what life has given them and be given all the tools they need to succeed. Earned Admissions is a model of what truly inclusive education should look like. We are proud to have James in our humanities community.”
Galica has three years of proof of college and a desire to pursue a career in law. Now he is applying what he has learned in his role as a teaching assistant for the online program Earned Admissions.
“If a student rushes something, his kid may have soccer practice and he’s had to postpone work. The role I take on as a TA is to help everyone improve their time on the course and ultimately their time at ASU,” says Galica.
For those considering the Earned Admissions program, Galica recommends keeping an open mind.
“Don’t let your past define you,” he says. “I wasn’t a very good student in high school. Now I love school. You can redefine yourself.”
Written by Annie Costakis and Samantha Becker