When applying to an online college, it can be a bewildering process. To help you more easily navigate the application hurdles, we’ve put together some step-by-step college advice that might assist you in moving forward with your application.
Take Time to Make the Right Decision
Our first piece of online education advice is to recommend that you decide what you are willing to put into a program and what you expect to get out of it. If you are planning to pursue a full-time degree, expect to spend three hours a week receiving instruction and at least two more hours studying material for each class. For a full-time load, that means 20 hours a week of firm commitment.
Give yourself plenty of time. Familiarize yourself with application deadlines and fees, and make a realistic schedule. Know what materials you will need for your application: essays, short answers, transcripts, at least one college recommendation letter, and tests you will need to take before you submit an application.
If you are required to take any standardized tests as part of the admissions process, you can visit the following websites for college advice and more in-depth information on some of the most common exams:
- College Board (SAT, SATII, AP)
- Law School Admission Council (LSAT)
- Association of American Medical Colleges (MCAT)
- Official GMAT Website (GMAT)
- Educational Testing Service (GRE, TOEFL)
Building Your Application
Put together your application carefully. Pull out your old resumes and previous applications as references to help you with the details. Most applications will require at least one essay—usually a personal statement which should give the reader a good idea of who you are and what you want to get out of your program. For those who are wary of writing a college essay, excellent education advice and writing resources are available online. Editing and tutoring services like EssayEdge.com can also help you sharpen your writing for a modest fee.
Choose people to write your recommendations who can offer strong insight into your character and job performance. Your recommenders should be able to show your potential for success in your chosen field, hold positions of respect and authority, and know you personally.
Ask Admissions Counselors for Education Advice
Make sure you know the credit transfer policies of the schools to which you are applying. Some colleges may withhold your transcript if you have outstanding library fines, tuition or other debts, so make sure you are in good standing with schools you have previously attended.
If you are planning to take your online credits to a traditional program in the future, you should research their transferability as well. The admissions counselor will be able to provide school-specific education advice, such as helping you to evaluate whether credits earned in an online program will be accepted at your intended destination, as well as informing you whether your prospective online degree will count as a qualification for a more advanced program at a traditional school.
Pay Your Way
When soliciting college advice about funding your education, there are several reputable government sites, which can answer many of your questions.
Like traditional colleges, online program funding is available through grants and loans, largely determined by the Federal Application for Student Aid. With your FAFSA, your school will be able to fund your education based on your demonstrated need through Pell Grants and educational loans.
Student loans for college can come in a variety of forms, from subsidized government Stafford loans offered through FAFSA to loans available through commercial lending institutions. Online programs may also have additional tuition benefits based on merit or other qualifications such as military service.
For any student trying to figure out how to pay for school, the College Board offers excellent college advice resources for navigating the process of student aid. The College Board also provides an exhaustive list of scholarship opportunities offered by independent organizations.
Additionally, some companies have tuition reimbursement programs available to their employees. You might want to inquire with your employer to see if they are willing to sponsor ongoing education, in part or in whole.
Finding the College Advice You Need
Applying and getting accepted to online schools is a methodical process. While non-traditional students may not always have the same education counseling structure available to them as traditional students, if you ask direct questions, you can secure the college advice you need to make the right decisions for your future.