Perhaps you have seen TV commercials advertising free online high schools. These free enrollments are at either public or charter schools, funded by taxpayer dollars. But there are potential snares to be aware of.
One situation that sometimes occurs is that the parent signs up at the free school, but doesn’t hear back. Upon inquiring, the parent discovers that there are a limited number of spaces available for free, and those are full. The parent is then offered a private option through the school, at a cost that may reach $7000. It’s almost a bait and switch.
Part of the above situation may stem from how the online public schools are run – by a state budget, funded at the whims of legislators or local school boards. That may mean limited seats in the public option, or a reduction in the number of seats later. Students may enroll, only to find out they can’t get in because it’s full, or they start but cannot finish because they’re out due to budget cuts. The advantage of an online private school is that it’s not at the whim of a legislator.
Another potential problem to consider with the public option is that, sometimes, it’s difficult to get in touch with teachers or administrators. One thing that’s important for students is to be able to reach out for help and get a response quickly to keep up the momentum. Smaller schools are better equipped to handle questions because they add a personal touch.
It is not unusual for online public schools to adhere to the bricks-and-mortar school calendar. This may result in situations for students that do not provide the advantages available in a private online school with a flexible schedule. For example, in online schools with such set calendars, students may be docked for absences the same as in bricks-and-mortar schools, thus causing them to fail due to excessive absences even if they get the proper grades. Or, for students who have missed days due to illness or other issues, they are expected make up lost work as well as keep up with all new work, just as is expected in a bricks-and-mortar school.
In a private online school with a flexible schedule, these are not issues. Students who need flexible schedules due to travel, jobs, illness, or sports activities are not penalized for missing particular days, and can work at their own pace according to their schedule. Of course, not all online private schools have flexible schedules, so it is important to inquire when researching schools, but a flexible schedule is more likely to be found at a private online school.
It’s worth it to consider investing in a smaller online private school for these benefits, such as not being at the whim of public budgets, having a truly flexible schedule, and having a stronger potential for responsive teachers and administration. At Sterling Academy, we offer these benefits. Contact Sterling Academy for more information on how we personalize the experience and offer the flexibility needed.