WHAT IS ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL?
Simply stated, online high school is a school or program where students earn their high school diploma by taking classes online. Taking classes online can expand your options in terms of exactly how you achieve your diploma. Although most virtual high schools offer classes completely online, some schools do require that you take certain tests at a pre-determined location or that you hand in regular assignments. In addition, some online programs are connected to traditional brick-and-mortar schools while others are totally online.
WHO CHOOSES TO ATTEND ONLINE HIGH SCHOOLS?
Most accredited online high schools offer registration to teenagers and non-traditional students returning to school to earn a diploma. (Non-traditional students are those people who, for one reason or another, are older than the usual 14 to 18-year-old traditional high school student). A wide variety of students choose an online high school, including:
- International students wanting to attend college in the U.S. and who want to take classes offered in the U.S. to reinforce their educational experience and increase their chances to get into the college of their choice;
- Students who, for one reason or another, cannot attend a traditional high school;
- Students who prefer to complete their diploma online;
- Advanced students who are looking for more challenging classes than their high school offers;
- Home-school students who want to supplement their education with online classes; and
- Adults who have been out of school for several years and want to complete high school education.
ARE YOU SURE ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL IS WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR?
“Enjoying” school may not be something you consider, but it’s important that you think clearly about whether or not you could be happy in an atmosphere that can sometimes be monotonous and lonely. You’re going to be alone most of the day while working on your diploma, and although many accredited online high schools do offer online mentoring/guidance services, you won’t have a teacher to explain things in person. You’ll have to be self-motivated enough to create your own study schedules and you won’t have your best buddies on hand all day to work on assignments with you. It will be totally your own responsibility to ensure you’re doing everything you need to do in order to graduate on time. If you don’t consider yourself to be a self- motivated person, perhaps online high school is not the best solution for you.
IT’S IMPORTANT TO FOCUS ON YOUR OWN EDUCATIONAL NEEDS
If you’re thinking about transferring from your traditional high school to an online high school, it might be a good idea to consider just why it is you want to make the move. If you don’t have an answer to this question, you’re going to have a difficult time picking the school that’s appropriate for your educational needs. Some good reasons for going virtual:
- Your professional or family schedule is unusual and online is the only way you can find the time to take classes;
- You want to “blend” your class time between the classroom and online learning;
- You want to take just a few classes to supplement your traditional high school degree;
- You want to earn your high school diploma entirely online; or
- You want to finish high school early.
To make your online experience a success, you’re going to want to look for schools that allow you to accomplish exactly what you need to create your ideal future.
FINDING THE RIGHT ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL
The most important step in finding the right school is research. There are hundreds of online high schools out there and you want to find the exact school that fits your needs and learning requirements.
Be sure to look at the website for the Department of Education in your state. Much of the information you need to choose the right online school can be found here. An example of things you should be considering:
- the name of the school you’re interested in;
- whether or not the school is fully accredited;
- the teacher-to-student ratio and how much access will you have to your teacher;
- whether the school offers the courses and classes you need;
- read student reviews of the school, if they are available;
- how much will the school cost? (This item may not be on the Department of Education site. You’ll have to visit the site for your specific school to get prices and additional costs.)
Over the past ten years, online learning has grown and is now more credible and accessible than ever. Online learning has become an excellent educational opportunity for anyone who wants to complete their K-12 education outside the framework of the traditional brick-and-mortar classroom.