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15 Tips for Applying for an Online Degree Program

Woman Completing an Application Form

Queens University of Charlotte offers a personal approach to education and provides support to students from day one. We understand that the application process and list of admission requirements can seem daunting, so we compiled a list of tips to help you get started and successfully navigate the application process.

15 Things Every Applicant Should Know When Applying to an Online Program


Prepare Your Documents

Like so many aspects of modern life, your road to education begins with forms to be filled out. In some cases, you may be completing a Web-based form. Alternatively, the institutions that rely on paper applications may direct you to a site where you can download and print your own forms.


Fill Out the Basic Application Forms

Every college needs basic information about you, such as:

  • Your contact information. Your home address and e-mail addresses (since now you live online as well as on-ground) and telephone numbers.
  • Personal information. You may be asked about your citizenship, military service, marital status and similar demographic data.
  • Your academic plans. The type of degree you plan to pursue.
  • Your previous education and GPAs. High school data and any college credits you may have earned.
  • Extracurricular activities, honors, family background, and work experience.


Polish Your Resumé

For many graduate programs, schools request a resumé to accompany your application. They want to see the connection between your work experience and your academic plans.


Prepare for Your School Interview

Some schools may require an interview. The interview gives you the opportunity to show your interest in a school or program, so you want to prepare as much as possible. To make your best impression:

  • Research the school so you feel ready to talk about why the college is a good fit for you.The college board has a handy checklist of things to do before and after an interview.
  • Ask if you can speak with current or past students and faculty members of the school.
  • Do practice interviews with family members and friends.
  • Remember to send a thank-you note to your interviewer after the interview.


Obtain Strong Letters of Recommendation

Find out if the school has a template or a Letters of Recommendation policy. Then ask people who know your work academically or professionally for a letter of recommendation. A good letter of recommendation provides:

  • Information about your relationship. For how long have they known you and in what capacity?
  • An overview of your professional abilities and accomplishments. You may want to give them a resumé and suggest that they mention any specific skills or abilities that could help your application.
  • Your previous academic experience, if any.
  • Dress nicely, as you would for a job interview.
  • A general statement of why the program would benefit by accepting your application. This is a nice way to close the letter.


Take the Tests

FACT, SAT, GRE, MCAT, GMAT. . . An applicant’s life is full of fearful acronyms, but preparing ahead can alleviate a lot of the anxiety.

  • Check to see if your school requires any of these exams. Make arrangements to take the test well in advance of when you want to start your academic program. You’ll want to prepare for the test and possibly retake it for a better score. Remember, it typically takes six to eight weeks after you take the test to receive test results.
  • List which schools you want to receive your scores. When you take the test, you can indicate which schools you want to receive your scores. The testing company will send your scores directly to those schools.


Provide Transcripts

You need to provide transcripts of your educational experience. Typically these need to be sent directly from the institution to the college to which you’re applying.


When Is It All Due?

Schools love deadlines. And unlike at your public library, being late can mean a lot more than a small fine. A missed deadline could mean a missed opportunity for the education you want. Know your schools’ deadlines for the various admission and financial aid application forms. If you’re not sure about the deadlines or other requirements, ask an academic advisor or admissions personnel.


Don’t Forget the Application Fees

It feels like you’re doing all the work, but guess what: some schools expect you to pay them a fee for the privilege of applying. Fees vary from school to school.

  • Application fees range from $0-100.
  • Ask your advisor or representative of the university for assistance if you have questions.


How Will You Pay for Your Education?

Paying for school is not easy. It’s an expensive proposition and one that no one can afford to take lightly. Fortunately, depending on your eligibility, there is Financial Assistance.

    • Scholarships—based on academics, demographics, or other criterion.
    • Grants—awarded by the federal government based on financial need.
    • Loans—which you will have to pay back.

The place to start is the FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid—emphasis on “FREE.” This is a federal program, free to all. Beware of any party asking you for a fee for applying for financial aid.


Explore Tuition Assistance

Check out studentaid.ed.gov and students.gov to learn about scholarships, grants, loans and work-study jobs and how they can help fund your education. Next, contact your school’s financial aid officer. Every school has one. He or she can help you throughout the financial aid process.


What To Do If You Don’t Meet the Application Requirements

Call the University’s admission team to discuss the requirements, your situation and next steps.


Woohoo, I Got Accepted! Now What?

Got into the institution of your choice? Congratulations! Got into more than one? You’re awesome! How do you choose the perfect one for you? Ask yourself:

  • Does the program meet my academic goals?
  • Grants—awarded by the federal government based on financial need.
  • Loans—which you will have to pay back.
  • Can I afford to attend the institution or is financial aid available?
  • Are the workload and schedule feasible based on my current work/life situation?
  • Can I graduate in a reasonable amount of time?
  • If I need help, what kind of resources are available?
  • How involved are the instructors?
  • Overall, does this program match my personality and learning preferences?


They Didn’t Accept Me! Is It the End of the World?

Getting rejected by a school is disappointing, but it is not the end of the world. You do have some options.

  • Talk to your academic advisor to discuss the reason why. There are many possible reasons an application is denied—from simple data entry error to an academic requirement not met; missing a crucial deadline to a transcript not getting where it’s supposed to go; or maybe the program simply reached its maximum enrollment.
  • Don’t assume your rejected status is permanent.Find out if you can apply again and what you can do to strengthen your application next time.
    • Gather together everything you need to meet the requirements—whether it’s missing paperwork or missed deadlines—and apply again.
    • If past performance was an issue, you may be able to take remedial courses or student success classes.


Ready to apply to a Queens University of Charlotte online degree program?

Review our Application Requirements here or call 866-313-2356 to speak with an admissions advisor if you have any questions.

Tips included above are considered general tips for applying to an educational institution and may not apply to all.

Source: Johnson, Kevin, and Manning, Susan. Online Education for Dummies®.
Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana

Copyright © Wiley 2014

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