As online schools have grown in popularity in recent years, there is more information available about them that interested students and parents can access. Unfortunately not all that information is accurate. The last thing you need when you’re making decisions about something as important as your education is erroneous “facts.”
So let’s set the record straight about these five common misconceptions:
1. Online school is easy.
2. It’s a quick fix for students who are struggling in their regular high school.
3. You still have to attend classroom-style webinars (not all schools, only some)
4. You don’t earn valid credits.
5. You can get a diploma with fewer credits.
Misconceptions #1 and #2: Online school is an easy fix.
For some students, studying online may seem easier because online classes are presented in a highly interactive, personalized format that enables each student to learn “their way,” and at their own pace. The fact that you can spend as much or as little time as you need on each topic before moving on greatly reduces the frustration that comes from having to hold back – or being held back – by the “average” pace in a traditional classroom.
But just because the online environment better facilitates learning doesn’t mean the course content is easier. Online high school courses are at least as challenging as their counterpart courses taught at traditional brick-and-mortar high schools around the country. Here at Sterling Academy, we use Edgenuity, a curriculum which is used by public and private schools in all 50 states because it is widely recognized for its quality.
Online study challenges students in other important ways, too. In a self-motivated learning environment, students take primary responsibility for completing the work. They have more control, but exercising that control teaches effective study habits, time management, critical thinking and other life skills that will serve students well throughout their lives, helping them achieve success in college and in their career.
Misconception #3: Online school is just web-based classroom teaching.
There are some hybrid online high schools that require students to attend a certain number of classroom sessions offered as webinars, even though students take other courses individually. With this type of school, you have more flexibility than with a traditional school, but you are still tethered to the school’s schedule to some extent.
Students attending a fully individualized online school have complete control over their schedule – when and where they study. Yet they never sacrifice teacher support because teachers have flexible availability for answering questions or exploring concepts further with students, one on one.
Misconceptions #4 and #5: You don’t earn transferable credits.
You may not earn full credit, if you choose the wrong online school. It’s critically important to investigate the school’s accreditation status, because it’s that formal accreditation that assures credits earned will be transferrable to another high school, should you ever want to do that, and acceptable to colleges when you apply for admission. When researching accreditation status, be sure to validate the school’s accrediting body, also, since there are accreditation agencies that are not recognized as valid. Generally, regional accreditation provides the most easily transferable credits. Sterling Academy is regionally accredited by Cognia, through the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools.
Insisting on an accredited school also ensures you won’t be taken in by online entities that offer “quickie” diplomas with little work on your part. The return is worth exactly what you invest – virtually nothing. These certificates do not prove you have actually graduated from high school (because you have not), and they have no value when it comes to applying to colleges or for a job.
We encounter misconceptions like these every day. If you have other questions about online schooling, please contact us. We would be happy to talk with you so you can make informed decisions.