Online: Why Go Online & How to Choose a High School

Recent research indicates that online course enrollment is not slowing down, and that 1 in 4 students took an online class (during high school) in 2016. This statistic surprised me. Even in my own community (about 20,000 residents), many of them and their parents don’t know that online courses are an option and/or how great they can be.

So, why do students turn online, and why isn’t it made more readily available? Student often take an online class because it’s a graduation requirement, or because their schedule doesn’t allow them to take everything they want. Some students don’t have access to the classes they want to take, or they require a non-traditional schedule because of athletics, medical needs, or a personal preference. In these scenarios, most of the student or parent/guardian is very proactive in looking for and finding a solution that will allow their student to take the class they want. Many others may benefit from the online environment, but don’t know that it’s an option.

When considering an online class, whether one or several, your decision should be based on a few key ideas:

1.) Is the class from an accredited institution? Accreditation means the school has met the standards and expectations of a external review team and is also recognized by most other accredited (and non-accredited) schools (high schools and universities) in the country. This is important because it means the credit you earn online will likely be accepted more willingly from an accredited school than one who is not accredited.

2.) Does the school provide the environment you’re looking for? The nature of online learning often provides a more autonomous learning experience. Be sure that you know whether our classes are self-paced, asynchronous or synchronous, and how long they are active so that you can complete them successfully.

3.) Do they offer the classes you want/need? Most online high school offer all core class requirements, and even many electives and foreign language classes. If you are looking for niche classes, it’s best to do some research so that you know what’s available to you. In some cases there are state schools that provide free tuition. In the case of a private online high school, tuitions generally vary from $135 to more than $400 per semester.

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