Is the Application Process for an Online Degree Different than a Traditional Degree?

When you apply to college you are taking the opportunity to convince a school that they should admit you to their next class of students. Though you might think there are some differences between applying to a traditional college and an online program, most schools still have the same requirements in place. The more information you share, the better your chance of getting an acceptance letter. You also need to pay attention to deadlines when applying for early admissions or regular decision.

Application Requirements

Colleges use applications as a way to weed out students who cannot follow directions and those the schools think would not be an asset. Most schools today look for students who completed or will complete a college preparatory curriculum. This type of curriculum includes courses designed to help you succeed at the college level like behavioral sciences classes and life sciences courses with a lab component. Schools also look for students with high grade point averages and average or higher standardized test scores. You will usually need to provide the college with a high school transcript that includes your GPA and class ranking.

Applying Online

Both online and traditional colleges now have an online option for their application process. The first step in this process is the creation of a unique account that only you will use. You usually need to supply the school with your full name, current home address and date of birth, though some schools will also ask for your social security number. After verifying that you provided a valid email address, you will then either be assigned or allowed to choose a user name and password. Many schools now use the Common Application or a similar app that lets you use one account to submit applications to two or more colleges.

Additional Steps

Online schools typically want to know if you have a high school diploma, GED or if you completed a home school program. These schools may have a high acceptance rate and admit almost everyone who applies. Other schools will require additional steps like writing an essay. You will be given various questions or prompts and asked to select one to write about. Your final essay will be around 500 words. You may also be asked to provide references or letters of recommendation.

Tips for Applying

No matter where you want to go to school, you should follow these steps to make your application process a smooth experience. U.S. News & World Report recommends creating a time line that shows each step in the process along with a corresponding deadline. You can then determine what steps you need to complete in the time available. It’s helpful to look at the application and read through it completely at least once before you start filling it in. This ensures that you don’t miss any steps or sections.

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Many traditional colleges now offer online programs, but you can also enroll in virtual colleges that do not have physical locations or schools with a higher number of online students than traditional students. Both online and traditional schools now use the same application process that lets you fill out an online application and mail in any necessary documents.