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Understand What You Need to Apply for a Degree Program

Applying for a degree program can feel intimidating, but it doesn't have to. Anyone can apply, no matter what your past experiences and skill levels are. Once you have chosen your degree program, you'll be making a major step towards building your career and expanding your future.

A Little Bit of Time

Applications don't complete themselves! You will need to complete an application to your chosen school(s). These are electronic applications that ask you a variety of questions about your past and your future plans. A typical application will ask you about any past educational experience you might have. Be prepared to share about your high school record or your GED. If you have taken any previous college or technical courses, you will need to share that information as well. Along with education, your application will ask about your current and past work experiences. Include all jobs that you have held, even babysitting or lawn-mowing can impact your application.

A Little Bit of Money

Nearly all colleges, whether they are online or on-campus, charge an application fee. This small, one-time fee helps the college or university process your application and it is nonrefundable. Costs vary depending upon the school and the type of degree program that you are pursuing. If money is an issue, you may let the fee limit the number of schools you apply to. Do not do this! You could miss out on great opportunities by only applying to one school. If a program interests you and you want to compare the possible financial awards from each institution, you may need to apply to multiple programs. The nonrefundable fee should not be a barrier to making the best choice for yourself.

Necessary Documentation

You will need some documentation for each application you submit. Transcripts are required for almost every degree program. High school transcripts are used to help the school to which you are applying know more about your past experiences. Admissions counselors will look over your high school transcripts to see what type of classes you took and what grades you made in those classes. While these transcripts are a necessary part of your acceptance, they will also be used by your adviser when the time comes to decide which classes are best suited for your skills. If you did not complete high school in the traditional way and achieved a GED, you will need evidence of that as well. Continuing education courses will not accept you if you do not have a high school diploma or a GED, though many institutions will help you find how to complete your primary education so that you can move on. If you have already taken college courses or any classes through technical or business schools, submit those transcripts as well. You could transfer credits, which would mean less time to complete your degree program.

Test scores are sometimes necessary for admittance, but are often used to determine eligibility for any financial awards that school might offer. Scores from the ACT or SAT should appear on your high school transcripts, but it is wise to make sure that those scores are present before you submit your application.

Many schools ask that you supply a resume and letters of recommendation. A resume is a place that allows you to truly share what is unique about your own personal experiences. Place detailed information about jobs that you have held, special awards that you have received, extra-curricular activities, and anything else you feel can help an institution know you a bit better. Letters of recommendation come from people outside of your family. Ask a teacher, a religious leader, or a business professional to supply the letter to you. They can address the letter to "To Whom it May Concern" so that you may make copies and send to a variety of institutions.

Now that you know what it takes to apply for a degree program, it is time to get started! Choose one institution or a variety of schools and start the application process. There is no time like the present to start preparing for your future.

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