Sterling Academy Blog

What it takes to succeed in an online high school

Posted by Sterling Staff on Aug 10, 2015 8:00:00 AM

The flexible, self-controlled nature of online study fosters an environment in which high school students can learn and hone essential life skills that build strength of character – self-motivation, self-discipline and determination -- right along with pursuing their academic studies.


In a traditional brick-and-mortar high school, motivation comes primarily from external sources, not students. Parents see that you get you up in the morning and off to school and that you do your homework in the evening. They meet with teachers (usually without you) to get an update on your progress. Teachers tell you what to study and when, in class and through homework assignments. Your schedule is set out for you, so all you have to do is walk from class to class and sit down when you arrive.

As an online high school student, you are responsible for your studies. You decide when to study and where. You can do that on your computer anyplace there’s an internet connection, so if you’d rather study at the library or in the backyard on a nice day, you can do that. If you’d rather get up late and start studying at 10am instead of 8:30, you can. (Plus you’ll get more sleep, something most teenagers seriously lack, making you more alert and more motivated to learn rather than nodding off in class.)

Online high school students work with teachers to determine a coursework completion schedule, but you’re the driver. Your parents may receive formal progress reports about your studies, but you will always know exactly how you’re doing, because online study is designed to help you to master one lesson before you move on to the next one. You get instant feedback and as much time as you need to fully understand the material.

Few things are more motivating than being in charge of your own educational destiny.


In traditional high school, discipline, like motivation, is external. In many ways, your decision to go to school every day and study is based on avoiding penalties, not the desire for positive achievement. If you don’t complete your work, or complete it on time, you get bad grades, lose your eligibility to play sports, apply to the college of your choice, etc. If you skip classes or don’t attend school at all, you can be suspended or declared legally truant.

You may be motivated to study and learn, but you probably also have multiple interests, both academic and non-academic. Self-discipline is the companion skill that enables you to prioritize and get things done – because you want to, not because there is a “threat” of some sort hanging over your head. A student enrolled in an online high school will have the ability to practice self-discipline on their own without a barrage of threats distracting them.



The only person who can make you succeed is you, because determination to reach your goals no matter what is a personal trait that comes from within. Online study puts you in control, but that means you have to be willing to take control by accepting responsibility for accomplishing your work, even when it’s hard or you’d rather be doing something else.

Determination takes self-motivation and self-discipline to the next level. For some students, that can be something of a challenge, and the freedom of the online environment can accentuate that. How determined are you?

One day soon you’ll graduate. You’ll be on your own, an adult. Will you be waiting around for someone else to take charge of your life, or will you have the skills to choose your own future? As an online high school graduate, you will have developed the self-motivation to know what interests you and how to pursue it, the self-discipline to follow through even when it isn’t fun or easy and the determination to succeed, not just get by. 

You’ll be able to dream bigger and accomplish more. Not only will your parents and teachers be proud of you, you’ll be proud of yourself. That’s strength of character.

Go to school online

Topics: online school

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