As online high school options increase and become more popular with families and students, more and more students will be applying for college with an online school background. How can these students make their accomplishments shine and their applications stand out?
Start Early (But Better Late Than Never)
If possible, high school students should begin to prepare to apply for college in 9th grade. This means knowing the specific courses colleges like to see on a transcript and working with school staff to be scheduled into those courses.
A 9th grader may not know exactly what college they want to attend, but they can look at college websites and find out what is generally required and what is preferred. Then, students can work with counselors and staff to see what plans of study are available to them.
Students who qualify should also take advantage of AP or Concurrent Enrollment classes offered by their online schools. These always look great on a transcript, as they show that a student was willing to go above and beyond. Some credits earned through AP or Concurrent Enrollment can also transfer, depending on the college, so a student may enter college with some prerequisites or at least some elective credit already under their belt!
11th and 12th graders who haven’t really thought about college until now should not despair! These students should meet with their high school staff to determine what they may be able to add to their schedule to make their transcript fit better with college requirements. Also, even a semester of AP or one or two Early College or Concurrent Enrollment courses can show that a student is working toward their goals.
Even if student grades are not stellar in 9th and 10th grade, improvement is also a factor in admissions, so finishing strong must be a goal for these students. Many colleges still accept standardized test scores, so SAT or ACT should be a part of college bound students’ plans as well.
Highlight Unique Circumstances, Interests, and Talents
Many students enter online school because of the unique circumstances in their lives. Students can share these with the college admissions team through the essay or personal statement. Letters of recommendation from school staff who know the student well are also a way for the admissions team to get to know the student. Someone who has overcome difficulties to succeed in high school can use those same skills to find success in college, and college admissions staff know this!
Other students have embraced the flexibility of online school to arrange their schedules around interests and activities. These unique skills and talents can help them get into the college of their dreams.
An elite athlete or artist may even be able to earn a scholarship based on their abilities! Of course, these students need to be working closely with their counselors or other online school staff to make sure they meet requirements for student athletes and to research colleges with programs that match their talents and interests.
All online students can highlight their ability to manage their own time, be self-directed, and self-motivated. These skills naturally go hand in hand with online education.
Many colleges have very specific guidelines for the application process. Any applications that deviate from these specifications are immediately eliminated! Students should read every detail carefully and stick to exactly what is requested.
For instance, if a college asks for no more than 1 letter of recommendation, that is exactly what should be included! They should also pay close attention to word limits on essays, dates, and other specifics outlined in the application. This is not the time to look for an exception!
Online students can be great candidates for college acceptance! They can have transcripts that meet college requirements, they are often able to reference special circumstances, talents or interests, and they are self-driven, motivated and used to managing their own time. If college acceptance is their goal, online students have the opportunity to achieve it!