Applying to Online Colleges
Application to online colleges depends on the kind it is. If it's the online division of a larger campus-based college or university, admission can involve following the regular undergraduate application process. In which case admission requirements will differ depending on whether you are applying to a 4-year or 2-year institution, independent or faith-affiliated, and whether you are applying to a school using the Common Application or not. For more detailed information on general on-campus applications, see the "Applying to" section of the various institution types here on Schools in the USA.
For institutions with specific admissions to their online programs, the application process can be quite different. As with regular college applications, online admission requirements may vary by degree program. In general, though, application involves completing and submitting an online application form, a telephone interview, submission of official high school transcripts and proof of English proficiency. Depending on the values and mandate of the institution, admissions criteria can vary from the formulaic and objective to more subjective factors regarding the student's "fit" for the program, and requirements may include a personal statement of background and experiences, information provided by your high school counselor and possibly pastor or other church references (for faith-affiliated schools). An application fee (around $50) may or may not be required. Many online institutions have an open admissions policy and do not require ACT or SAT scores, while others do require them, such as online divisions at large campus-based universities or colleges. Some of the community and career online colleges require simply that you fill out a request for information form on their website in order to learn about the different program options (since they generally do not have print catalogs like other types of universities and colleges). You are then contacted by and admissions representative who will guide you through the application process. In this kind of application, you don't need to compile a whole application package or worry about deadlines for documents like you do at traditional universities and colleges. Many online institutions also have special admissions procedures for students in the military, and admission to bachelor's completion programs requires a prior associate's degree.
In terms of timing, this again depends on the kind of online institution you are applying to. Some have "online terms" like traditional universities beginning in September, and therefore they have specified application deadlines. Others have rolling admission, which means you can apply at any time. Often, the school will contact you at each stage of the process to request particular documentation from you.
No matter which way you apply, one thing that is not required but highly recommended is a talk with an institution's admissions counselor. Knowledge is power, so be sure to seek out the people and resources that can help you get as much information on your desired online colleges and programs before you apply.
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