Your Online College Pre-Enrollment Checklist - Infographic

Pre-Enrollment

Commitment is among the most common reasons people put off college. They simply don’t have the time, or they don’t realize how quickly time will fly once they’re in school. Consider this article and the infographic below a to-do list that will keep you focused on your college priorities.

“The hardest part is making that first commitment, and once you get past that first commitment, and you start moving forward, before you know it you’re going to see that light at the end of the tunnel,” Ashford University graduate Brandon Hardin said at the school’s Fall 2015 Commencement ceremony in San Diego.

Hardin’s experience is similar to those of other online students who just needed a little push to get over the hump and back into school. If you’re struggling with your decision, here is a checklist to help you put things into perspective:

Start the Search

The first thing you should do is sit down and interview yourself. You’ll want to ask as many questions as possible so you know exactly what you want from an online degree. Then you can start researching the schools and programs that will match your needs. Follow these steps:

1. Clarify your goals. What do you want from a degree?

2. List your interests. Life is more fun when you do what you love.

3. Think big. Get online and research specific schools and programs. BigFuture, a website from The College Board, is a great resource for this step.

4. Look for accreditation. It’s critical that you get a quality education from a school that meets academic standards.

The Application Process

If you’re confident that you’ve covered every base in the research process and answered every conceivable question about your college goals, then you are ready to move on to the application process. In this phase, you’ll want to:

1. Speak to an enrollment advisor. You’ll have more questions, and these are the people with answers.

2. Gather the necessities. Paperwork is unavoidable when applying for college. As long as you’ve organized everything you need, you’ll be in good shape.

3. Fine tune. Your start date and specialization are just two important details you won’t want to overlook.

4. Fill out the FAFSA. No one wants to leave money on the table. Find out if there’s a scholarship, grant, or loan that could help you fund your education.

After You’ve Enrolled

Just because you’re attending school online doesn’t mean you should be any less prepared for the first day of class. You’ve been working toward this moment, so set aside some prep time to:

1. Figure out your schedule. You’ll need to make time for classes, studying, and homework.

2. Create a study space. Find an area where you can be alone, focused, and avoid distractions.

3. Find your support team. Online students, especially adult learners, have to balance work and family with school. Find people you can call on for help.

4. Show up. Your instructor and fellow students can’t see you, so make your presence known. Be active in weekly discussions, ask questions, and respond to others.

Online learning is meant to be flexible, but for many students, it will be unlike any other education they’ve received. The more you’re prepared for what to expect, the less you’ll have to worry about anything other than your studies. Above all, enjoy the experience; it may be over before you know it.

Written by Jason R. Latham, Content Manager for Bridgepoint Education.

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