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Frequently Asked Questions at Sterling Academy

Find answers to the questions you may have about online schooling or Sterling Academy


Q. Why would a student take an online course through Sterling Academy?

A. Sterling Academy offers a high quality, rigorous curriculum that fully prepares students for life after high school, whether it be college or the working world.  Sterling Academy teachers are dedicated to ensuring that students produce quality work and do not turn in something just to get by.  

Sterling Academy is also flexible in scheduling.  While students need to spend the same number of hours per week in their studies as they would in a bricks-and-mortar classroom, students can arrange those hours as needed to fit their schedule, and can stretch out the time to 12 months if needed (full-time tuition is valid for 12 months).  

Q. Is Sterling Academy a free school?

A. We are a private school; tuition payments are required.

Q. Is Sterling Academy accredited?

A. Yes. Committed to the provision of quality programs for students, Sterling Academy is accredited by Cognia. The North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC), and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI) are accreditation divisions of Cognia.

Q. Are Sterling Academy courses for credit?

A. Credits earned in a Sterling Academy course are equivalent to a traditional middle and high school class. Full-time Sterling Academy students earn credit towards their diploma by following the graduation requirements as stated in the Student/Parent Handbook. Sterling Academy student services will assist part-time students and their parents in ensuring that credits earned at Sterling Academy will transfer to their main middle or high school.

Q. Do credits transfer back to a student's local school if needed?  Do colleges accept our credits?

A. Yes. Since our school is accredited by Cognia, a widely recognized and respected accreditation agency, credits are generally easily transferable to other middle and high schools, and are accepted by colleges and universities.  For more details on this, see our Credit Transfer page.

Q. Does Sterling Academy request transcripts?

A. Yes.  Transcripts are needed in order to determine what courses a student needs to take. As for high school students, another reason transcripts are needed is so that we may know what credits to transfer in. To learn more about other items you need for enrollment click here.

Q. Does Sterling Academy offer dual enrollment?

A. Dual credit is available upon request and by review, subject to approval.  The student must supply from the college where they are seeking dual credit the following information: College name, course name, catalog description, and number of credits.  The principal or college & career counselor will evaluate the information and determine how the course may or may not fit into our program.

Florida does not limit the number of dual credit courses. Some states do.  We will abide by the limits of the state where the college is located.  We may also set our own limits if we feel that it is in the best interest of the student.

Q. How and where do online students take their ACT/SAT tests?

A. Students can take their ACT or SAT examination at any school that hosts the test; admission to the testing site is not limited to students of that school.  Registration is done online with ACT or SAT.  

Q. If I am lacking just a few credits, or need just a few credit recovery classes, can I take those at Sterling Academy and get my diploma from you?

A. The requirement of our accreditation agency, Cognia, is that a student must have completed 25% of his or her high school coursework with us in order for us to issue a diploma.  This equals 6 credits, which is equivalent to one school year.

Q. Does Sterling Academy offer IEPs (Individual Education Plans)?

A. We do not formally offer IEPs.  However, students work at their own pace, and work with teachers individually, so the learning is automatically tailored to the student's needs. Our open-calendar, individual-based learning system covers the vast majority of accommodations we've seen in IEPs of student coming into our school, automatically by nature of our system.  For any types of accommodations that are not automatically taken care of by our system, we try to work with our students' accommodation needs.

Q. Do students take the courses on their own time or at a specific school time?

A. At Sterling Academy, students can study when and where they want. In order to stay on target with their assignments, the amount of time students need to spend in their studies is similar to what is required in a bricks-and-mortar school. The difference is that our students can arrange those hours per week in a manner that suits their schedule.

While the scheduling is flexible, students must meet with each teacher via webcam, phone or chat no less than once every month, and must be completing schoolwork at an appropriate pace to finish on time.

Q. How do students contact their teachers?

A. Students primarily use our school communication system.  This system allows each user -- student and teacher included -- to decide how to receive the messages.  For example, students can choose to receive messages from their teacher via email, text message, or social networking.  Likewise, when a student sends a message to the teacher, the teacher will receive the message according to his or her choices (email, text, etc.).  Communication through the school messaging system is the primary way students contact their teachers.

When students need assistance with their course material, teachers can use an online whiteboard to show and explain, or meet by online chat, phone, or webcam.

Q. Is there a teacher for every class?

A. Yes, a student has one teacher per course. Certified teachers work with students in each course to provide guidance and feedback as students progress through the curriculum. Sterling Academy teachers are content area experts in the fields that they teach.

Q. Do students need a computer at home?

A. Sterling Academy highly recommends that students have continuous access to a computer with reliable Internet access, preferably in the home. If students don't have a computer with reliable Internet access at home, they can use computers at the public library, internet cafes and community centers, but keep in mind that access will be needed 25-30 hours per week. Also, some public computers may have browser settings that prevent access to curriculum.  Students will also need to have a webcam or webcam access in order to participate in oral quizzes. Here is a list of technology requirements for our school.

Q. What about assignments, quizzes and tests?

A. Sterling Academy courses all have assignments that students complete within the course, completely online. Courses have vocabulary practice, writing assignments, quizzes, unit tests, and mid-term and final comprehensive exams.  In addition, math and science courses have online labs.  Some courses, such as digital arts courses, are more project-based.

Q. How many Sterling Academy courses can students take at one time?

A. Part-time students usually take only one to two courses at any given time, depending on their current academic schedule at their main school. On average, a full-time Sterling Academy student will take six credits per academic year in order to fully meet graduation requirements.  Courses are assigned by semesters, so that comes to 12 semester courses in a year.

When a student enrolls at Sterling Academy, the student is expected to work out a study plan for the year, assisted by the Registrar.  This study plan will determine how many courses are taken at once, and the start and end date for each group of courses.  We generally recommend that a student take no fewer than 3 courses at a time, though this is not a hard and fast rule.

Six credits is the maximum number of credits that a student may take with standard full-year, full-time tuition; additional credits will require additional tuition.

Q. Does Sterling Academy offer GED testing?  Can I get my GED online from Sterling Academy?

A. No. GED tests can only be taken in person.  

Q. Does Sterling Academy offer the High School Equivalency Test?

A. When a student passes the High School Equivalency Test, this does not result in earning a High School Diploma, only a Certificate of Equivalency.  (If an online institution claims to give you a regular High School Diploma for passing the High School Equivalency Test, they are giving you misleading information; a diploma earned in this manner is considered to be fake.)  Sterling Academy does not offer a Certificate of Equivalency, nor the testing to acquire it.  Our courses are complete, full-credit courses designed to fully educate students and enable them to earn a regular High School Diploma. 

Q. Can students attending online school still play sports locally?

A. Sterling Academy is available to students in all 50 states (as well as abroad), and each state has its own laws.  On top of that, where there is no state law in place, local school districts can make their own rules.  Therefore, we cannot answer this question for everyone.  Some schools accept that the parents are taxpayers in their district and allow homeschool or online school students to participate in sports, music, and other such programs; other schools may take the stance that they get money from the government per student enrolled, and if your child is not enrolled there, the school is not getting the money to support extracurricular activities for the student.  The answer to this question really depends on your school district, and/or your state laws.