The Parent’s Guide to Applications and Admissions

Many noteworthy academic institutions provide online degree programs for prospective students to explore. The application process is just as rigorous at online colleges as it is at a traditional university; in addition to a completed application form, supplementary materials such as teacher recommendations, essays or statements, and official transcripts are required. This overview will not only discuss each step of the application process, but also some helpful strategies for students (and their parents) during this crucial period.

SAT/ACT Prep

High school students have busy lives, but it is important for them to carve out time in their schedules for standardized test preparation. Parents should mark test dates on the calendar, then work with their child to build a study plan a few months in advance. Test prep books, practice exams, study tactics (such as process of elimination with multiple-choice questions), and flashcard drills are all excellent ways to prepare for the SAT or ACT. Don’t underestimate the value of standardized scores – they heavily factor into the admissions standards for both online and traditional colleges.

FAFSA

Students and parents can save thousands of dollars on tuition and fees by filing an annual FAFSA. Don’t make the mistake of putting this off for too long; fill out the free application after Jan. 1 of the year you plan to attend school. Financial aid offices at both online and traditional colleges typically allocate grants and loans to students on a first-come, first-serve basis. Even if a family hasn’t completed their taxes, the FAFSA will allow parents and students to estimate their annual income and submit the form to a student’s chosen schools. These forms can be updated later in the year to reflect accurate taxes. Parents should work closely with their children to file the FAFSA and provide accurate financial information.

Choosing a School

Prospective college students can find their dream college program by searching the Open Education Database (OEDb) for reputable colleges and degree tracks. The online college application process is competitive, with thousands of students hoping to gain admission. Students should apply to a variety of “reach schools,” institutions with challenging requirements and a great reputation, and “safe schools,” colleges with requirements that a student can easily meet just in case they aren’t accepted into any of their “reach” choices. Students and parents can easily compare requirements and degree rankings on OEDb, as well.

Technology Requirements

During the application process, parents and students should make note of both the school’s tech requirements and the technology the school provides. Computers, microphones, and webcams allow students to engage with teachers and classmates in a digital environment. Students shouldn’t have to scramble on the first day of class to acquire the right technology to view their course assignments, textbooks, and video lectures.

A growing number of students, parents, and academic institutions worldwide are embracing online education, and studies indicate this trend isn’t about to stop. Make sure to take the online college application process just as seriously as traditional, brick-and-mortar college requirements. For further information, parents may refer to the article “Choosing an Online School as a Parent.”