Applying to an online college is nearly the same process as applying to a traditional university, except that it all takes place online! All online colleges will have a section on their website dedicated to walking students through the application process, so start there. Some online colleges may ask you to fill out a request form before sending you the actual application.
What you’ll need
Expect to submit grade reports, essays and other supporting documents along with your online application. Applications differ from school to school, but you should expect to provide:
- Personal contact information, including current mailing address and phone number
- High school transcript with most current grades and GPA
- High school diploma or proof of graduation when available
- SAT or ACT scores if required
- Recommendations from teachers or counselors
You can view an example of the widely used Common App here, which is used by many brick-and-mortar schools and can give you example questions that you might see on your online college application too. Expect to answer things like:
- Prospective major
- Interests and extracurricular activities
- High school class schedule
Selectivity and Degree Requirements
Some online colleges are more selective than others, so you may need higher scores for one school but have an easier time enrolling in another, just as if you applied to a brick-and-mortar school. Bachelor’s degree programs will require a high school diploma or GED, and graduate schools will require proof of a bachelor’s degree and possibly the completion of prerequisites or certificate programs.
If you are transferring to an online college, make sure your new school will accept your credits, and work with an academic advisor if you’re concerned about military benefits, crediting work experience for classes, and any other questions you have.
Support during the Application Process
Fully online schools may not have an admissions office close to you, but they should have an easy-to-find contact phone number, e-mail and possibly online chat service on their website to answer questions. If the office is difficult to reach, this may be a red flag that the online college is not a legitimate university, and you should double check its faculty credentials, graduate records, and other factors.