Monthly Archives: May 2019

10 Questions for Online Schools

Are you considering attending an online school? Is there a possibility that your child will attend an online school? If either of these is true, then what you ask the school becomes vitally important in your selection process. Unlike not that long ago, there are now so many options available (and this is a good thing), that you will find it difficult to choose.

Below are the questions that should be driving your search. Often people ask the wrong question. An example of a wrong question might be: “Where are you located?” Unless you are specifically looking for a free online school, it doesn’t matter much where it is located.

So, let’s get started:

Who accredits or approves your school? Some schools operate solely as a business and have no outside approval (beyond perhaps a business licence). You will want to know who approves the school.
How much does it cost? The cost to attend an online school ranges from free to more than $17,000 per year. The free options will be fairly local to you (typically a charter school in your county or in a surrounding county) and the expensive versions will be private online schools. The example of $17k is Stanford University’s online high school.
How many credits will you accept in transfer? The answer to this question is key because how many credits they will accept plays a role in completion time for the program. Some schools will accept almost nothing while others will accept everything. It is likely that the school will need to analyze your high school transcripts to determine what is acceptable. However, if you have never attended high school, then this may not be an important factor.
Will I have a teacher? You will most definitely have a teacher of some sort. This question is really more about how you will interact with that teacher. Some schools require students to “attend class” weekly where you and the other students are provided with a virtual lecture. Others do not and the teacher mostly just grades your completed assignments. The rest are somewhere in-between. Decide which works best for you.
Will I work with other students? Some students, typically the younger ones, want to work with other students. Some students, typically the older ones, do not. Figure out if this is important to you. A related question is how you can interact with other students, but not in a virtual classroom setting. Perhaps they have an online forum set up where students can discuss classes and create relationships.
Where do your graduates end up? Do most of the school’s graduates join the work force or do most go to college? Someone at the school should be tracking this information (and, if they are not, this should be a point of concern). There is no right or wrong answer here, but you want to align your goal with where most of the students end up. If most go to college and you want to go to college, this school may work for you.
How long have you been “in business?” Longevity breeds stability. Or so it is hoped. Find out how long it has been in existence. Don’t forget, though, that sometimes “new” can mean “innovative.”
How long will it take for me to finish? This is related to question #3 above, but goes beyond that point. Some programs march you through step by step and it is hard to accelerate to graduate early, while others are specifically set up for the student who wants to finish in less than four years.
What extracurricular activities are available? Unlike the past, online schools now sometimes have proms, field trips, graduation ceremonies, and so on. Decide how much this sort of thing is worth to you (and how likely you are to take part given where you are located and where the school is located).
How do I turn in assignments? This really only becomes important if you are located outside the United States. If you have to fax in assignments (an increasingly smaller group of schools require this), then phone charges come into play. Also, fax machines are not readily available everywhere in the world (and, yes, I am talking to you, missionary kids!).
It is important for you to understand that these questions are a starting point. They are to give you initial guidance. It’s likely that you will have follow-up questions for the school after hearing some of their answers. And you should.

Also, remember the importance of checking to see that it is an approved school. I regularly get emails from online students inquiring, after “attending” a school, about legitimacy of what they earned. You should definitely determine who approves the school.

10 Questions for Online High Schools

So you have decided to earn a high school diploma online. Good for you! However, choosing the right online high school is paramount in your being a successful student. Choose wrong and you may not graduate. Choose well and you are on your way.

Below are ten questions that should be used as a jumping-off point in your school selection process.

Do you have a high school diploma track? Yes, there are schools that only provide courses, but do not offer the complete package. You will want to know which this particular school is.

What is the size of the student population? It can be large and it can be small, but you will want to know how many students. Why? Because you will also want to know how many teachers. Then do a division problem. Does each teacher have hundreds of students assigned? This could be a warning sign.

How long have you been an online school? While new schools can be innovative, there is much to be said for schools that have stood the test of time. In the online school world, that may be a school that has been offering courses for at least three years.

How many courses/credits do I need in order to graduate? Best to know this up-front. The number of courses likely mirrors the number required at traditional public schools. Could be a little less, but shouldn’t be more.

How liberal is your credit transfer policy? If you have already been attending high school, you will want the school to accept all or almost all of your high school credits. If a school says that they don’t accept transfer credits or will only accept a very few, you will want to consider whether this is the right school for you. It may still be a good choice in other areas, but you will want to know the answer to this question before you enroll.

Do many of your students get accepted into four-year colleges? This may not be a goal of yours right now, but you could change your mind. Understanding now where a school’s graduates end up can be helpful. Some online schools will post a list of the colleges being attended by its graduates. This is helpful to you.

Do most students pass their courses? It would be nice if they would be willing to let you know their percentage of course completions. The number should be neither too high or too low.

Will I be assigned to a teacher? Some online schools run more on auto-pilot than others. Do you want a teacher to support you? Choose a school where there is much teacher-student interaction. Do you not want a teacher? Choose a school where you are more on your own.

How will I work with other students? Some schools factor in group work. Others don’t. Decide which you like and choose based partly on this factor.

What is your refund policy? If the school is not tuition-free, it’s never a bad idea to know how you can get your money back if you change your mind.
These questions at least get you started down this path. It is likely that these ten lead to ten more. That’s fine; effective research is key in making your selection.

5 Reasons To Go To An Online High School

Online high schools are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to traditional high schools. While they are not without their own unique set of problems, online high schools, particularly those which allow for earning a high school diploma online, will only grow in number and popularity.

While there are a number of different reasons for why a student might elect to attend an online high school, below are five popular reasons:

1. If you are an adult student, it can be infinitely less embarrassing to go online. Most adult students have little desire to be in class with 16-year-olds (or even in an adult school class with 19-year-olds). Online no one knows how old you are and you can be faceless in a very real sense.

2. It gets you out of the public schools (in most cases; remember there are some free online high schools that are public charter schools). While we have many excellent schools in the United States, we also have some schools which are struggling.

3. If you have an illness that prevents you from going to high school, this can be a good alternative. While not always the best choice for students who are ill, it can be a reasonable alternative to what the public schools might be able to offer in that same situation.

4. You have been asked – ahem – to leave your high school for whatever reason. You definitely still want to earn a high school diploma and this may be one of your very few options depending on your location.

5. You just know that, if you stay in your local public high school, you will never finish. That environment is not for everyone. Some will be successful, but for others it will be a real challenge.

However and importantly, online high schools require students to be motivated. Remember that in traditional schools you have teachers pushing you forward. While many online high schools have teachers, the dynamic is different. It will be much more on you to be successful.