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Best 5 Ways for Non-Traditional Highschoolers to Apply to Colleges (402 hits)

Many nontraditional high school students wonder if attending a nontraditional high school hurts their college admissions chances. The answer is no. Most universities hold nontraditional secondary schooling to be solid preparation for college study. However, there are a few specific items admissions officers want to see from nontraditional applicants. Here are five ways to ace the college admissions process.

Start Early and Build a Transcript

Today’s college admissions process is more competitive than ever before. To gain admission to their chosen post-secondary schools, high school students must have all their ducks in a row. This includes a transcript showing strong academic performance, solid to excellent ACT and SAT scores, and an admissions essay that shows they are unique, thoughtful, intelligent, and mature.

To make each one of these areas as strong as possible, students should start planning their college admissions several years in advance. Students need to plan for their transcripts to reflect what admissions officers at their chosen schools are looking for. Students who graduate from nontraditional high schools have a distinct advantage in this aspect of college admissions.

Students from traditional high schools have transcripts that all read the same. They reflect completion of graduation requirements, letter grades, and some elective courses. They show a class rank. There is not much there to help the student stand out as an individual.

Nontraditional transcripts showcase how the individual’s journey to academic success build on their needs, goals, and interests. They show that the student spent their high school time engaged in enduring learning experiences that will be uniquely valuable during post-secondary education. It also shows that the student had the capacity for self-motivated study, a crucial skill for college success.

Use Time to Prep for the ACT and SAT and Submit the Subject Scores

A great advantage of the self-paced learning environment of nontraditional schools is the ability to build in plenty of prep time for the ACT and SAT. These tests require significant preparation, even if the student is highly intelligent and completing all coursework.

Students are also able to spread out their preparation over time to avoid attempting to cram for the tests, which is generally ineffective. Traditional high school students are so overscheduled these days that many have to resort to cram sessions.

Nontraditional students should put extra focus on preparing for each subject so that their scores reflect a well-rounded college preparation. College admissions officers often place more emphasis on the subject scores for nontraditional students than traditional students, explains Antonio Buehler.

Both Four Year and Community College Options Work

Students wishing to go directly to a four-year school are well prepared by planning their transcripts and studying for the SAT and ACT, but what about community college? The community college route has become much more popular in recent years, largely because of the high costs of four-year schools.

Community colleges offer more benefits than saving money, however. Many offer the advantages of direct admissions to state universities based on GPA and guaranteed transfer credit at in-state schools. Community colleges look favorably on nontraditional high school students.

Self-directed Learning Success

Traditional high schools offer limited resources for students to learn in the way they do best, often favoring a cookie-cutter approach. This leaves many students with gaps in their knowledge base as teachers leave behind the students without the preferred leaning style. Traditional high schools also favor disciplined-based education over self-directed education.

In college, learning becomes more self-directed. Self-discipline and self-motivation are required. Students also have more latitude to learn in the way they do best. Many nontraditional high schools including online schools emphasize developing these independent traits. For example, Connections Academy, an online public high school, teaches students to plan a self-directed learning experience that prepares them for the academic challenges of post-secondary schooling.

Nontraditional high school education provides the independent and self-disciplined learning environment that prepares students for college success. With proper planning and a dedication to learning, nontraditional high school students excel during the college admissions process.

Posted By: Anica Oaks
Wednesday, January 31st 2018 at 4:48PM
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