As technology options continue to increase, the ability to learn remotely increases as well. For many students, that means an option to learn online at home becomes a possibility. Is attending an online high school the right option for you?
Here are the pros and cons to consider.
List of the Pros of Online High School
1. You are given the chance to work at your own pace.
With an online high school, there isn’t the same scheduling pressures as there are at a traditional high school. You don’t need to worry about making it to class by a bell or specific time. You can take extra time to understand certain materials if you need it. You can also power through courses when you know the material, which allows you to get through some classes faster than usual.
2. You are given a schedule that is more flexible.
Pacing advantages are present for your overall schedule too. You can work when you’re ready to work, unless there are specific real-time requirements that are part of the class curriculum. You can work early in the morning, late at night, or split your day to accommodate your needs. That makes it easier to find a job, get involved with extra-curricular activities, or even handle your child-care needs.
3. You have fewer social pressures placed on you.
When you’re enrolled in an online high school, you can work from wherever you have a data connection. Many students choose to work from home, which means they get to avoid the social distractions that certain groups or cliques might cause. You can also choose to work at the public library, the local coffee shop, or even at the beach if you can tether your phone to your computer. You get to be in full control of your circumstances.
4. You can choose to specialize in certain areas.
The opportunities for specialization classes or optional classes are often much greater with an online high school compared to traditional schools. This allows you to focus on a specific area of expertise, which could even earn you college credits, depending on the structure of the online high school. You can also experiment with certain classes to see if there are subjects you might like without the same pressures to be involved as you would be at the local school.
5. You can earn your diploma quicker.
Students enrolled in an online high school can earn their diploma in 2 years instead of 4 years, in some situations. It is very common for students to earn their diploma in 3 years. That makes it easier to take a gap year between high school and college, especially if you love to travel, explore, or want to earn job experience. By the time everyone else graduates, you could have 2 years of work experience, or even an Associate’s degree, and have an advantage when pursuing your career because of it.
6. You can have niche learning opportunities.
Online high schools allow you to pursue an education which fits better with your value systems as well. You can find niche learning opportunities in a variety of areas, especially within religious education. The quality of the education is guaranteed as it must meet certain state and national standards. At the same time, you can have the confidence in knowing that you will receive information to learn about which doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable or make you stand out from the rest of your class.
7. You can avoid the negative environments of high school.
If you are enrolled in an online high school, then you can often avoid the issue of bullying that occurs at the traditional school. Although you’ll lose good social opportunities, such as sports or certain classes, there are some ways you can still get involved locally. Many public schools will allow online students or homeschooled students to enroll in a class or two, such as band or choir, to get the social experiences of high school and the benefits of learning online together.
8. You build a stronger relationship with your parents.
When you are spending more time at home, you will be spending more time with your parents. Although that seems like a big negative at first, it can be a tremendous positive. Having a closer relationship with your parents creates opportunities for family excursions, vacations, and adventures that other high schoolers don’t always get to have. Your parents tend to trust you more as well, which gives you more freedom than your peers may receive.
9. Your homework requirements go down to almost zero.
Because almost all of your learning happens during the day, an online high school requires almost no homework from you. That means you have more time to do stuff you love outside of your school time. There may be extended projects that you’re asked to complete, and you’ll always be dealing with those standardized tests, but the actual homework element disappears most days with this schooling option.
List of the Cons of Online High School
1. You will receive fewer social opportunities.
If you are learning online in high school, then you must create social opportunities for yourself. It is very easy to stay focused on your school work, stay at home, and let the rest of the world pass you by. Even if you do arrange social opportunities with other online learning families, you’ll find that in high school, you tend to be the oldest student in the group. You must take great care about avoiding isolation, because it will creep up on you quickly.
2. You must become your own teacher.
You might be awesome at some subjects. You might be terrible at others. In many online high school programs, you tend to be your own teacher. Your parents can step-in to help you if they can. You might have access to some teachers, especially if you use an online K-12 publicly-funded option. At the end of the day, however, if you’re stuck on a geometric theorem and can’t find your own answers, there may not be anyone around to help you find them either.
3. You must be self-motivated to complete your studies.
When you can get through your school work quickly, it becomes easier to procrastinate. If you know you can get three days of work competed in 6 hours, the temptation to take two days off, then work hard on the third day, can be very strong. If you miss that third day, however, then you’re suddenly three days behind on your work. It takes high levels of self-discipline to stay motivated to do your work when you’re on your own.
4. You may be enrolled in a non-accredited high school.
If you attend an online high school, you must make sure that the institution you are using is an accredited school. If it is not, then the colleges you begin to apply for may not recognize the work you have completed. Your transcripts and diploma might not even be recognized by employers. One of the easiest ways to avoid this issue is to enroll in the local online high school program through your district. If one is not available, research accredited online high schools that will accept your applications.
5. You will pay a lot more for online high school enrollment.
There is a growing K-12 online education option available to families across the United States today. These public charter schools will often enroll new students without a cost. Many of the best online high schools are private schools, however, which means you could find yourself paying thousands of dollars in annual tuition costs, books, and computer resources. Christian Liberty Academy is one such program, charging $760 per year for their high school plan.
6. You must prove that you are enrolled in school.
If you are enrolled in an online high school, then you are technically classified as a homeschooled student. Homeschooling is legal in the United States and throughout the world, though the truancy laws vary from location to location. Your parents may be required to write a letter to the local school district or contact government officials about your schooling, especially if you are enrolled in an accredited private high school. If you go out during school hours, you might be required to carry a card which shows your enrollment status. Although most homeschooled students never deal with a truancy officer, you must be prepared for questions if they happen.
7. You must be willing to accept lifestyle changes.
Even if you attend a private online high school, your parents are going to become your primary teachers. If there are real-time events you must attend, then you must be there, just as you would be required to attend class at your local high school. You must find all of the school supplies you need to complete assignments. Even the pace of life changes, which means your daily chores, any errands, and your job must coordinate with your schooling responsibilities.
8. You might experience lower levels of self-esteem.
With a growing variety of online connections available, it is easier to stay connected with friends when attending an online high school now more than ever before. At the same time, you do not have the same access to in-person connections with your friends. Although there are fewer exposures to bullying and peer pressure, the lack of friendship connections can be just as devastating to your self-esteem.
9. Your parents are still going to be up in your business.
Because your relationship with your parents tends to be closer when attending an online high school, every issue you might have becomes magnified. Some days, you just need to get away from them, but your school responsibilities keep you at home. Even kids who don’t argue with their parents frequently may find that heated conversations become more frequent when they are spending more time at home.
10. You won’t get to participate in organized high school sports.
Most school districts will not allow homeschooled students to participate in organized high school sports. Even if you are enrolled in a class or two, that usually isn’t good enough to qualify. If there is a private school in the area, you might be able to get onto a team there. The only exception to this rule is if your public school district is offering the online program that you are using. Then you are still technically a student, which allows you to participate in those activities.
11. You need to have the resources available to make this happen.
Online high schools require you to have specific equipment at home to ensure the quality of the education you receive is good. If you cannot meet those requirements, then you are not permitted to enroll. Even if you do have the right technology, you may find that there are fewer resources available to you, such as robotics, camera equipment, or musical instruments, compared to what students at the local public school are able to use.
The pros and cons of an online high school are dependent on what you want to get out of your schooling experience. If you’re focused on the pursuit of a career and you want to get there quickly, then this is a solid choice to consider. If you prefer a social experience, the chance to compete in sports, and school-based extra-curricular activities, then learning online might not be the right option for you.