Make the Switch to Online High School
Written by Ellen R.
Parents look to online high schools for a number of reasons: safety, challenging curriculum, accelerated learning, flexible schedule, one-to-one attention from teachers. What ever your reason, choosing the right school can be challenging and confusing. Here are the top 8 TIPs for choosing the right online school.
1. Research independent reviews
Let’s face it. An virtual school may have a beautiful website, but what do the students, parents and graduates say about their experience at the school? Use an independent research site for honest and verified reviews of the school to get a realistic perspective of the school. Click here to open Consumer Affairs Best Online High Schools reviews.
2. Is the school accredited?
Unfortunately, there are online programs that are not accredited. You may pay tuition and end up with a valueless “diploma”. Look for a school that is regionally accredited. Here is a list of few regional accreditors:
CITA – Commission on International and Trans-regional Accreditation
NCA – North Central Association (AdvancED, now Cognia)
SACS – Southern Association of Colleges and Schools(AdvancED, now Cognia)
NWAC – Northwest Accreditation Commission (AdvancED, now Cognia)
NEASC – New England Association of Schools and Colleges
MSA – Middle States Association
NCPSA- National Council of Private School Accreditation
IB – International Baccalaureate
A diploma earned from an accredited high school will be more accepted when applying to colleges. Learn more about Whitmore School Accreditation.
Click here to search for the accreditation status of the online schools you are considering. Note: Institution Type = School, School Type = Digital Learning
3. Does the school offer individualized one-to-one approach?
Accredited schools offer a rigorous curriculum. As a result, your child will graduate well prepared for career or college. That is the goal – right? Be sure to ask if the lessons are computer generated and computer graded, or if there is meaningful feedback from the teacher. Multiple choice lessons may sound easy, but studies have shown that students retain knowledge better when they engage one-to-one with teachers. With Whitmore School’s self paced- mastery learning approach, students and teachers develop a strong relationship. As a result, students are solidly engaged in their learning.
How large is the school? Is the school small enough to offer your child the personalized attention you are looking for? Mega-schools may offer hundreds of courses and have glitzy websites, but that may not be as important as finding the school that will support your child’s learning style.
4. Are the teachers qualified?
Teachers are the key element in your child’s online learning. A qualified teacher should hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and be knowledgeable in and passionate about the subject matter.
It is important that your child can develop a rapport with their online teachers. Ask if a teacher will interact with your child on every lesson. Do the teachers provide constructive feedback and encourage student’s to delve deeper into their learning?
5. How long has the school been open?
Online learning is relatively new, and is in big demand. Students and parents love the flexibility online schools afford. A quick search on the Internet will reveal hundreds of online schools. New schools are opening and closing all the time.
Choose a school that is tried and true. Accreditation and longevity are a good indication that your child will graduate and be qualified for college admission or be well prepared to enter the work-force or military service.
6. What about college acceptances?
A reputable online school will provide you with a list of college acceptances. Even if your child does not plan to go on to college, this is a good indicator of the quality of education.
Learn more about Whitmore School College Acceptances.
7. Are there additional fees?
If you are considering a private online school, does the tuition cover all costs? Are all course materials are available online, or are there additional fees for books and lab materials? Are there additional fees for ordering official transcripts to be sent to colleges?
7. Unusual circumstances?
If your child has unusual circumstances, be sure to ask if the school can accommodate these concerns. Is your teen a dancer? Singer? Artist? Does your family travel? Does your child work?
Most private online high schools offer a flexible school schedule. You make your own schedule that fits your life. However, many public online charter schools require participation in scheduled “Live Lessons”. Students who travel or live in a different time-zone may find it difficult, or impossible, to meet this requirement. Be sure to ask.
Taking the time to research the best online school for your child can be time-consuming, but enrolling your child in the online school that best fits his or her needs is always worth the effort.
Written by: Ellen Ray, Principal and parent of Alina, 2009 Whitmore School graduate
See all blog posts