Online colleges have been around for quite some time now. Nonetheless, this type of academic arrangement has become more crucial with the current coronavirus pandemic.
The global health issue has changed everything, including the academe. Before, most high school graduates would anticipate the time when they’d go to university and learn to live independently among their peers. However, these days, students are encouraged to stay at home and study remotely to limit the spread of the disease.
Now, the online learning setup has proven beneficial to everyone. Whether you’re a full-time student or a professional that wants to pursue further education, this arrangement can help you accomplish your career goals without going to a physical school to learn.
The Enrollment Process
Online university enrollment is typically done virtually, from start to finish. After all, it wouldn’t make sense if you still have to visit their office in-person just to fill up a form or submit your requirements.
While different colleges may have more or less steps than the ones included in this article, these are the usual stages that you’ll have to go through when enrolling in an online school:
- Connect with the Admissions Department
The first step involves reaching out to the school and asking about their classes. The process is as simple as filling up an inquiry form on their website and submitting it. Then, someone from their Admissions department should contact you to answer your queries.
The officer or counselor can guide you on the succeeding steps that you have to fulfill so that you can start your academic journey with them. They can help you determine whether you need to take a placement test or not.
Other things they can help you with include:
- Creating a schedule
- Enrolling for the classes
- Identifying financial aid options
- Finding scholarship opportunities
- Complete an Online Application Form
You should also fill up an online application form where you’ll disclose the required personal data, such as your full name, birth date, address, email, and mobile number. You’ll also need to type in your company name, number, and address if applicable.
You have to be mindful of the submission deadlines. Most schools have now opened their registrations for Winter and Spring 2021.
- Look for Available Courses
Check the courses that are available in the school. Once you find your desired subject on the list, you should review your credentials and go over your final grades for the pre-requisite courses. Make sure that you were able to complete the requirements for them. Otherwise, you won’t be qualified to enroll for that class.
- Submit Necessary Documents
You must show proof that you were able to fulfill the requirements of previous courses by submitting your records. This includes high school transcripts as well as those from your prior college or military documents.
You may also need to provide proof that you passed certain pre-admission exams, including the following:
- SAT – The SAT exam is commonly used for college admissions in the US. A student’s score helps universities assess if the former is equipped with the necessary knowledge for tertiary education.
- ACT – This is another standardized admissions test. It covers the areas of English, mathematics, reading, and science.
- AP – If you’ve attended an advanced placement (AP) class, you’ll need to provide this document to prove that you completed the course.
- IB – The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an education curriculum. Similar to AP, if you attended this type of class, you’ll need to show this document.
- GED – The General Educational Development (GED) certification can be used as a substitute for a high school diploma in the US.
- Register for Classes
Once you’ve submitted the necessary requirements and found the courses that you want to enroll in, you can sign up for the classes. Again, check the registration deadline and the number of remaining slots.
If you’re not planning to earn a degree but would still like to enroll and learn some practical skills, here are some popular online courses that you can take:
- Leadership Classes – It’s never too early to gain this soft skill, especially if you want to climb the corporate ladder. The course can equip you with essential skills for team motivation and time management.
- Sales Techniques – With this class, you’ll learn everything you need to know about selling products and services to customers. The lessons you’ll learn will include planning and preparation, relationship building, and how to close a deal.
- Marketing Programs – Digital marketing is a crucial tool for businesses to reach potential customers. An understanding of this process can aid your brand’s success in today’s competitive market.
- Design Lessons – Even if you’re not planning to become a graphic designer, you still need to learn basic photo editing skills so that you can easily make presentations and other resources. This way, you can apply the principles that can turn your posters and infographics into something visually appealing.
- Photography Courses – Similar to design, you also need to have an understanding on the fundamentals of photography. You’ll learn about composition and the Rule of Thirds.
- Pay the Fees
After everything has been confirmed, you just need to pay the tuition and other accompanying fees. The admissions advisor can also help you determine whether you’re eligible for federal and state grants and loans.
These are the types of financial aids that you can apply for:
- Scholarships – Schools, non-profit organizations, foundations, and even private companies provide funds to high-achieving students. It can be challenging to apply for this type of financial aid. An ideal solution is to find scholarships for your major to filter the number of students competing for it. Of course, you should employ the right strategies for academic success to make yourself eligible for a scholarship.
- Grants – The most well-known grant would be the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). While some grants impose academic requirements, most of these programs are need-based. This means that they assess your family’s financial status.
- Fellowships – While most fellowships are offered for graduate students, you may also find one for undergraduates. You can receive a discount or payment for conducting research on your major.
- Loans – Unlike the first three types of financial aid that don’t require repayment, you must pay back your student loans. Federal loans provide more practical interest rates and better repayment plans.
- Work-Study Setup – In this arrangement, students have to work for the school for a tuition reduction. Their pay typically goes into paying for their education.
- Employer-Sponsored Programs – If you’re already working, you can ask your company if it has a study program that you can apply for. Some businesses offer this as it can improve the quality of their workforce.
Tips When Enrolling in an Online Course
As mentioned above, an online school can be a practical solution for your academic needs. The remote learning setup can help you strike a balance between studying and working simultaneously. This arrangement is ideal for professionals who want to earn their master’s or doctorate degree without having to sacrifice their careers.
Here are some tips that to help you when enrolling for an online course:
- Find Reputable Schools
The reputation of online colleges has become tainted by few scammers that deceive consumers. Nonetheless, there are plenty of credible institutions that you can choose from. You just have to research extensively to ensure that a school’s claim is true.
Before you enroll in an online course, you need to check these factors:
- Accreditation – Your online class won’t be considered valid if the school is not accredited by the government. A college must be transparent about their accreditation. They must post their seals and certificates on their website.
- Reputation – Read up on reviews and testimonials from current or previous students of the online school to get insights on their experiences with the institution. This way, you’ll know what to expect and whether you’re amenable to working with the college’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Location – Even if you’ll be enrolling in online classes, the location of your school still matters since you might have to complete some processes personally. Having a physical office also lends an air of credibility to the institution. It’s better to find a college or university near your home or, at the very least, in the same city or state.
- Evaluate Your Readiness
After making sure that a potential online school is reputable, you must then do some introspection to assess whether you’re ready for learning remotely. Some personalities thrive in online classes, while others prefer to have social interaction as they study.
Aside from personality factors, you should also go over the technical requirements that you’ll need to meet for online classes. This includes evaluating the device that you’ll be using as well as your Internet connection.
These are the technical factors to consider:
- Personal Computer – These days, you need a relatively powerful computer to ensure that you won’t face delays or crashes when using the apps that you need for your classes. The requirements go higher if you’re using video editing software and engineering or coding tools.
- Internet Access – A stable Internet connection is a must for those enrolled in online courses since data lag can significantly hamper your educational experience. For instance, you wouldn’t enjoy going to class if your teacher’s video keeps on freezing during your video conference because your Internet service can’t keep up with the download requirements.
- Software Programs – You may also need to purchase software licenses for programs that you’ll be using regularly for class. Purchasing these apps can be a bit expensive, but you can try asking your school if they can get an academic discount for the institution.
- Accessories – Similar to traditional classes, online courses can take advantage of video conferencing apps for the discussions. This way, the class can become more interactive rather than merely having students listen to lectures posted online by the professors. With this, you’ll need headphones or speakers and microphones. It’s better to find one that’s noise-cancelling so that your classmates won’t be disturbed by the sounds in your house.
- Workspace – Speaking of noise and other background distractions, you should set a place at home where you can take your classes and study in peace. It can be one corner of your bedroom or a separate room altogether.
- Stay on Top of Your Schedule
Take note of the available classes and the courses that you’ve already enrolled in. This way, you can plot your lectures and ensure that there won’t be any conflicts with the time.
Make sure that you also provide an allowance for you to do your projects and assignments. The lines between the home and classroom can become blurred for online classes. It can be tempting to just sit on your workspace for the entire day just finishing up on everything that needs to be done. However, you should still give yourself study breaks because your mind and body need to recuperate.
- Determine the Payment Plans
During the process of enrollment, you should ask about the payment methods and ensure that you can send your tuition through those platforms without any difficulty. As mentioned above, discuss with the admissions officer whether you might be eligible for discounts and scholarships as well as the requirements that you need to submit to process them.
- Create a Study Strategy
You should still aim high during your online classes since your grades would bear the same weight as regular courses. With this, you must have a study strategy to ensure your academic success when studying remotely.
The enrollment process for online colleges is more accessible since everything is completed virtually. You won’t need to go to the school in-person to fill up the forms, submit your requirements, check the available courses, and pay the fees.
Before you enroll for the classes, though, make sure that the school is reputable and accredited by the government. This way, it won’t be difficult for you to transfer to another online college or an in-campus university in the future.