There is absolutely no doubt that online learning is the future of our education system. In fact, several advocates of virtual learning now believe that traditional education systems may become obsolete sometime in the near future. Given the flexibility and cost advantages e-learning platforms have to offer, there is little doubt that this may actually turn into reality at some point. For those of you who have realized just how plausible that is, it’s time to prepare for the changes headed our way. So, how do you go about finding the best online high school for your child?
It’s simple. You stick to the basics. There are several different factors you can consider when evaluating different schools. However, to pick one that’s ideally suited to cater to your child’s learning needs, all you need to do is remember the important factors and ensure that the school you pick checks out on all counts.
This is undoubtedly the most important aspect you should think about when planning to enroll your child with an online high school. Accreditation is a process that is used to ensure that schools adhere to a standard of education that is recognized nationally or regionally. It also implies that the school is held accountable to an independent agency for the academic results it delivers. What makes accreditation so important is that most colleges and universities will only accept students who have graduated from accredited online high schools.
At present, since no set of standards for accreditation has been established on a nationwide basis, accreditation for virtual learning schools is managed on a state and regional basis. Since this is of prime importance, it is vital that parents make the necessary inquiries about the school’s accreditations to ensure they are making the right choice. After all, it is a significant investment in terms of both time and money, isn’t it?
2. Support Services
Since online learning platforms are nothing like traditional schooling, students require a certain amount of handholding initially. Parents should evaluate schools based on the level of student support they provide to help students get accustomed to e-learning platforms. There are several services that are typically made available to both students and parents, which is why it helps if you have a checklist handy when evaluating each school.
Some of the key services parents should keep an eye out for when evaluating online high schools include tutoring services, presence of learning coaches, availability of school counselors, parent network or community that helps parents cope with the challenges their children face with virtual learning, and other types of services available to parents in addition to the ones vital for students to succeed.
3. Qualified Instructors
Online instruction isn’t quite the same as teaching in a traditional classroom. There are several challenges that teachers do not come across when imparting education in a physical classroom. As a parent, it is important for you to ensure that the instructors are sufficiently qualified. Parents should also understand the kind of curriculum that is used for online learning and how that content is delivered to students.
The content for each grade level differs according to the aptitude and age of students, which is why it is critical that parents evaluate the kind of course content being used since course curriculum plays an extremely important role in student engagement, especially when it comes to high school students.
While e-learning content plays a major role in the success of the learning process, the quality of instruction is by no means any less important. Having the right kind of teachers is absolutely essential for students to be engaged in their course curriculum and receive all the support they need.
4. Credit Transfers
With virtual learning, credit transfers play an important role when transferring into as well as out of online programs. Most secondary educational institutions do not accept credits from an unaccredited school, which is why enrolling with an accredited online high school is so important. Parents should discuss the entire transfer process with the proper authorities to ensure that the credits they wish to transfer are recognized by other high schools in the country.
This is also important when pursuing college or university applications, or even when applying for employment opportunities. Given the amount of time and money one invests in an online education, the importance of accreditation cannot be overstated. That is why it helps to have all the necessary information about credit transfer before enrolling for an online course.
5. Extracurricular Activities
Since a major portion of time is spent studying online, virtual learning schools typically arrange for students to engage in extracurricular activities. Parents should find out is the school they plan to enroll with offers such programs that help students socialize in an increasingly online world. Programs to help students socialize usually include activities like field trips and social clubs etc. and should be an integral part of a student’s learning process.
6. Preparing For College
Last but not least, one of the primary objectives of a high school education is to help prepare students for higher studies. There are several different aspects that form a part of the virtual learning experience when preparing for college that include availability of honors, AP and college prep courses, access to college advisors and counselors, adequate preparation for standardized tests (including ACT and SAT), among others.
Students as well as parents should inquire about the different college prep services that are provided by the school, as well as the percentage of students who’ve graduated in the past and were accepted into college programs.
7. The Importance of Due Diligence
All things considered, it can be easy to get lost in the maze of information that is available to parents today. However, with a little patience and the right amount of effort, parents can ensure that they make the right decisions. Since enrolling with an online learning school is a major step, parents should take their time and carry out their due diligence before enrolling their child with an accredited online high school.