When deciding whether to enroll in online high school, it can be helpful for students to consider benefits of these programs, as well as program options, admissions requirements, program formats and possible challenges.
Online High School: Overview
As you've probably noticed, the Internet has a habit of changing the way a number of things work, and the educational field is no different. Now, for the first time ever, you can earn your high school diploma entirely, or in part, from home. Your teacher and classroom are as close by as the nearest Internet connection. There are several benefits to an online high school program:
- More opportunity in coursework: With online technology, you can study a number of different disciplines, from advanced math to guitar lessons.
- Flexibility: Some students and young adults want to earn their diplomas but find it difficult to balance their education with work and family obligations.
- Social options: No required pep rallies, lunch hour or study hall; students can choose to engage in social activities that they prefer.
- School choice: Instead of having to attend your regional high school, students have a choice of schools.
- Speed: You may be able to complete your education in significantly less time than you would spend in a traditional school
Finding an Online High School Diploma Program
Online high school courses and programs, offered by a number of different schools, businesses and organizations, are proliferating across the Internet. Many of these, including those offered by for-profit schools and some run by public university systems, cost money to attend. However, there are also a few online public school options that are tuition-free. Some of these schools require students to live in-state or in the school district.
Enrolling in Online High School Diploma Programs
Online high school students make up a diverse group. It includes students who:
- Are older than the traditional high-school age
- Work full-time
- Live in remote locations
- Are being home-schooled
- Want to accelerate their education
- Need more intellectual stimulation or independence in their educational choices
Online High School Formats
Online high school diploma programs all operate slightly differently and have different focuses. Some provide the coursework completely online, while others require some on-campus presence. For example, some online programs are geared towards gifted students who may not be getting all they need out of a traditional classroom in their hometown. Such programs combine online seminars with directed study courses in which students work on their own time. Students also work closely with teachers, counselors and others to achieve their goals. During the summer, they attend an intensive residential program.
Other schools, by contrast, offer coursework completely online - even physical education courses. Labs for science courses are completed at home. Courses are asynchronous - meaning students don't have to log in at any set time. These types of programs don't have any specific due dates for any of the assignments; students just have to complete all of the coursework by the end of a certain time period. This also means that you can complete a class much faster than you would be able to in a traditional high school.
Things to Think About When Considering an Online High School Education
The phenomenon of online high school diploma programs has caught on very quickly in the past decade, and there hasn't been a lot of research yet on the benefits and drawbacks. There are, however, some drawbacks to enrolling in an online program. A few issues include:
- Many online schools require students to pay tuition.
- Some students feel isolated at home, without the social aspect of a traditional school.
- Learning asynchronously through videos and CDs excludes the possibility of spontaneous input and insight from other students and teachers.
- Flexible programs can be hard for students who need an exterior motivating factor, such as a set schedule for exams and papers.
- Online courses are not always the best choice for some students with language-based learning disabilities.
Before enrolling in an online high school program, prospective students also need to be sure that they will have access to the technology that is necessary for online study. Online high schools typically post minimum technology requirements on their websites, although additional software may be required for some courses. In general, students need to have the following hardware and software:
- Desktop or laptop computer with a certain amount of memory
- High speed internet
- Office software
- Certain internet browsers
There are many benefits to attending online high school, ranging from greater school choice to more comfortable learning environments. At the same time, it important for students to be sure that they are ready to meet the challenges of online learning before enrolling.