Online colleges are quickly becoming an appealing alternative to enrolling in traditional, in-person universities. In fact, there are even a number of universities that are now offering degrees that can be completed 100 percent online in order to make education more accessible to a wider range of people, maybe even you.
With this increased access comes a question that most people probably haven’t considered very often is how old you have to be to enroll. There are certain age requirements for most schools, so it is important to know and understand how this works before you begin applying to online colleges.
Is There a Minimum Age Requirement For Online Schools?
It is common practice for brick-and-mortar universities to have a firm age policy when it comes to college admissions. This is to protect everyone involved, and it also helps to ensure that every student who comes to their campus has the best possible chance of success. However, online courses have many advantages and disadvantages. Since there is no need for a student to ever step foot onto a physical campus, the issues of safety and security are less of a concern.
Because of this, it might seem like there is no need to have age restrictions on college courses. This is not the case for most schools, however, and there is usually a minimum age requirement of 15 years old. Some online institutions like Udemy will accept students as young as 13, so it’s always best to check before making any decisions.
Why Are There Age Requirements For Online Courses?
It might seem strange that there are still age requirements for courses that are completely online, but there are a few factors to consider. In most cases, young people who are hoping to enroll in online school for a college degree have completed high school early due to accelerated programs or extensive homeschooling. This often means that they are academically gifted and can probably handle college-level course material.
However, the considerations are more complicated than that seemingly simple decision. While it is extremely important for younger students to be able to handle tough material, there are also issues of social and emotional maturity that colleges have to consider as well. For example, some college nursing degree courses may cover material that is more mature than a young teenager may be willing or able to delve into. Parents may also have misgivings about allowing a young teen to learn and discuss certain topics as well.
Can I Enroll in Online Classes If I’m Too Young?
Another example would be the fact that there is still a degree of social interaction in many online school settings. There may be discussion boards, video assignments or group projects that could require a young student to interact with much older peers. Even if he or she is quite mature, there will still be a significant social gap in these situations that might be too difficult or alienating for a young student to overcome.
The good news for students is that it is still possible to enroll in online classes at any age. Most states have provisions that allow online schools to make their own judgments on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, children as young as eight have successfully enrolled in college courses.
Set Up for Success
A crucial thing to keep in mind about opting for online schooling at a young age is that the student has to be considered a “good fit” for the program. This means that there is not only academic aptitude but also maturity and a sense of independence. In a lot of cases, it is normal for young students to write sample papers and have interviews with program directors so that they can get a better understanding of whether or not the student would do well in a particular online program.
It may also be helpful to remember that there are lots of online learning resources for students who might need to add a bit more high-level course material to their academic portfolios. These courses are often affordable and easy to set up as well. Completing these types of courses can show academic administrators that a younger student is well-equipped to handle rigorous assignments and potentially difficult material.
A Quick Recap
Answering the question of how old you have to be in order to enroll in online classes is not as simple as stating a single number. In many cases, the cutoff age for enrollment is 15 years old, but there are also exceptions to this rule. Some schools that are 100 percent online will allow students as young as 13, and other academic institutions will admit younger students on a case-by-case basis.
The most important thing to remember for young people who want to enroll in online college classes is that they must be independent, mature and prepared to prove themselves to instructors and administrators. Keeping these things in mind will go a long way toward ensuring academic success.