When it comes to admissions, online colleges and traditional on-campus college programs have a lot in common. In both cases, some colleges have rigorous admissions criteria, while others accept virtually any applicant. The applications process will be more painstaking in some programs than others, regardless of whether those programs hold classes online or in-person.

Some Common Admission Requirements

When you apply to any college, either online or traditional, you are likely to encounter some common requirements. Of course, you will have to fill out an application that includes at least some personal information. You may need to provide a transcript from high school or your most recent GPA, even if you have been out of school for a long time. Applications may require you to submit scores from a standardized test like the SAT or ACT. You may have to write an essay or provide letters of recommendation.

Open Admissions

Many online students – especially nontraditional students – make the choice to pursue an online education because getting a traditional college education wasn’t possible or simply didn’t appeal to them. While bright and talented in their own ways, these students may not have done their best in high school. Now, with renewed ambition and new life experiences under their belts, these students are dedicated to earning their degrees – but they may worry that their past academic performance will hold them back from getting accepted into an accredited degree program.

For these students, schools that offer open admissions or open enrollment may be an ideal choice. These schools accept any applicant who holds a high school diploma or GED, regardless of past grades. Open admissions colleges mean that students no longer have to stress over that burning question of “What if I don’t get in?”

Keep in mind, though, that just because a school accepts students regardless of past academic performance doesn’t mean that minimal effort will bring you success in your online studies. Even if you choose to attend an online college that is easy to get into, U.S. News & World Reports cautioned prospective students to prepare for challenging coursework. Online courses give students more independence than traditional courses, and unfortunately, that independence can make courses all the more difficult. Without face-to-face interactions with an instructor and fellow students, it can become easy to miss deadlines, forget assignments and procrastinate when it comes to getting work done. That’s why it’s so essential for online students to keep organized and set up a working environment that keeps them disciplined and encourages productivity.

Whether an online college degree program is easier to get into than a traditional college program varies widely by school and degree program. Don’t let anything, even lackluster past academic performance, hold you back from fulfilling your dream of earning your degree. If you can’t or don’t want to go through a rigorous admissions process, you can find an open admissions degree program that’s right for you.