Is the Timeline for College Applications Different for Online Degrees?

The timeline for college applications refers to the schedule that you follow when applying for college. You’ll usually want to tour campuses in your junior year or over the summer before starting your senior year and submit your applications in the fall or winter. If you apply to an online college though, the timeline is slightly different. Online colleges often have fewer requirements than traditional colleges do, and some do not even ask for a standardized test score or a high school transcript. You should look at the general application timeline and how it differs for online students.

Taking Standardized Tests

Many online and traditional colleges ask for an official score from a standardized test like the ACT or SAT. When you take those tests, you can add the school code for each college you want to apply to, which will let the testing board know that it should send those scores to each campus. Peterson’s recommends that you take the test early in your senior year and send those scores to each school. Taking the test in your junior year lets you see how well you scored and gives you time to take the test again if needed.

Application Steps

Always look over each application and the steps involved. Many online colleges now use the Common Application, which allows you to create your own account that includes your name, high school details and other information. You can then use that same information to more quickly fill out applications at multiple schools. Applications generally also feature a section on your parents. You’ll need to know where they work, the level of education they completed and other basic details. Keep in mind that you may need to pay an application fee, too.

Evaluations and Other Documents

Once you send in your applications, you can focus on all the additional information that colleges require. While the timeline for applying to an online school is similar to the timeline for traditional college applications, you need to look at all the documents that the school requires. You may need an evaluation that comes from one of your teachers or your guidance counselor. Some also ask for a transcript that shows your current class ranking, classes you currently take, your grades and a list of classes taken in previous years. An online college may also ask for at least one letter of recommendation.

Admission Deadlines

The most important thing to keep in mind when planning the timeline to follow for applications is the deadline for each college. Early admission is something offered by many traditional colleges. You can submit your application in the early winter, usually by the beginning of December, and know ahead of time whether the college accepted you. Online colleges usually have deadlines too and will not accept any applications that come in after that deadline. You’ll also need to supply all verifying documents and information by that deadline. If the college has a rolling admissions policy, you can apply at any point during the year.

The college application timeline is important because it lets you know when to apply and when to take care of each step in the process. Online and traditional colleges generally follow the same timeline, though you may apply to an online college that has a rolling admissions policy and no deadline.

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