Posted by ICON School on Nov 23, 2020 4:42:49 PM

High school student filling out a college or university application, laptop in background

Online school is a great option for many students, and even more are joining this method of schooling due to COVID-19. However, some parents are worried about how this type of learning will affect college applications. Today we're taking a look at how colleges view online school on student transcripts, and what you need to know about addressing it if colleges ask. 

How Colleges View Online School

It's very likely that the pandemic will change higher education's view of student learning, as 2020 has reshaped the landscape of learning as we know it. However, it's useful to take a look at how colleges traditionally view students who complete high school online. 

The primary concern universities will have is whether the school is accredited. For students attending a free online public school like ICON, this isn't a problem. But if your student is attending or looking into a different school, it's a good idea to ask about accreditation. As long as a school is regionally accredited, colleges won't typically have any issue with whether the school is online or in-person. 

For students looking at more competitive universities, there are obviously additional considerations, such as AP courses or extra curricular activities. These are still possible with online school! Advanced opportunities and dual enrollment are great ways to gain additional coursework and activities that look good on college applications. 

How to Use Online School Experience for College Applications

Of course, one of the first questions that admissions counselors might ask is, “why?” Why did the student switch to an online school? Here's what to keep in mind when it comes to college applications

Be Prepared To Explain the Reason for the Switch

Some students might be asked to explain exactly why they decided to enroll in an online school on college applications. Beyond the pandemic, students might switch due to medical conditions, struggles at in-person school, or family obligations. Some students take online classes because they are athletes or artists and spend a lot of their time traveling or competing and need the freedom that online school allows.

When students can adequately explain why they switched to online classes, college counselors immediately look at this decision in a more favorable light; however, college admissions teams may still want to make sure that the student is prepared for the academic environment of a top-notch university.

Proving Academic Readiness

Students who take online classes often receive educational instruction that is more rigorous than a traditional school; however, colleges and universities might not see it this way. Therefore, students need to prove that they are academically ready for college. Some of the ways to do this include:

  • Score well on Advanced Placement (AP) or IB exams
  • Score well on SAT and ACT exams
  • Back up strong grades in online classes with strong recommendations from teachers

Standardized tests are one of the few ways that colleges can compare online classes to traditional classes. When students do well on standardized tests, they prove that they are academically ready for college.

Proving Social Readiness

Finally, it is also important to step outside of the classroom and look at social readiness. Many colleges are concerned that students who take online classes might not manage their time appropriately in college. If they haven’t had to show up for a physical high school class, will they actually attend their college classes?

There are a few ways that students can demonstrate their social readiness. This includes:

  • Get a job and demonstrate a strong employment record, including a letter of recommendation from an employer.
  • Describe the demanding, rigorous schedule of athletic or artistic activities
  • Discuss the importance of hobbies and how they have led to a well-rounded young adult

This is usually enough to prove to colleges and universities that the student is ready for college.

Online Learning Prepares Students for Colleges

When students place their online classes in the best light possible, they prove that they are ready for college. Do you want to learn more about online educational opportunities? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you!

ICON School

Written by ICON School

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