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Should I do Online High School? And If So, Which One?

Poppygirl14Poppygirl14 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
edited December 2018 in Home Schooling and College
Hello everybody, I am currently a freshman at an advanced private high school. I am doing relatively well in school, with mostly As and A+s and a couple A-s. Next year I am thinking of doing online high school or dual enrollment because of the flexibility, self-learning, and personalized attention you can receive. Before I make a decision though, I want to ask a few questions:

A) What have your experiences been with online high school, whether you're a parent or a teacher or a student? Which high school do you attend?

B) Depending on your high school, what is the structure of the lessons? Is there a lesson plan and then quizzes, or do you have textbooks and just turn your assignments into your teacher online? How do you take tests? Do you have complete flexibility or is there a set school-year and due dates?

C) What online high school would you recommend? Do they have good, comprehensive programs offering APs? Please tell me the pros and cons if you go to them, and why you did or didn't choose them. I'm also open to suggestions for other schools. I'm looking into:
- Laurel Springs
-Oak Meadow
- Mizzou K-12
-George Washington University Online High School
-Christa McAuliffe School of Arts and Science
- International Virtual Learning Academy
- Stanford Online High School (though I don't know if I would apply because I don't think I would get in)

D) Will it impact me for college applications if I switch in the middle of high school and took no APs in freshman year because my current school did not allow them for freshmen? Do the schools have a class rank?

E) Have any of you been accepted into the Ivy League or top colleges with these schools? How could I utilize these schools to help me do that? How does the curriculum compare with advanced private high school curriculum in general? They always seem to have lower ratings, especially for teachers, on Niche. Why do you think this is?

F) In addition, how are the teachers? Are they responsive, and are students given one-on-one attention with someone to guide them through school? Is it easy to connect with the teachers on a personal level?

G) How good are the schools are managing your college plan and nurturing your passions? How long do you spend on average on school/studying, and will you have time to heavily pursue two challenging passions (Eastern/international relations and Ethics while also starting a non-profit) while also being able to earn top grades?

I apologize that this was so lengthy. Thank you for your reply and helpful information.

Replies to: Should I do Online High School? And If So, Which One?

  • milgymfammilgymfam Registered User Posts: 271 Junior Member
    edited December 2018
    My daughters are homeschooled. One is a senior and the other a junior, and they entered homeschooling in 8th/9th grades after being in public school until then. They did a year with oak meadow and a year with laurel springs, then a year with clonlara and finally this year doing true homeschool without an outside accredited school. We didn’t enjoy laurel springs and the teachers we had felt too hands off. They liked oak meadow better but the tuition jump was too much for us- the teachers were very accessible and we continued to use their courses independently after leaving the school because they’re well structured and thorough. Clonlara was just me afraid to not have accreditation on their transcripts, but in the end we didn’t find it worth the cost at all.

    I will discuss my older daughter because she’s a senior and because my younger daughter is planning a gap year to dance and work. My older daughter started dual enrollment in tenth grade (college wouldn’t allow it before then) and between tenth and eleventh grades she completed 48 college credits and entered the community college’s honors program and maintained a 4.0 there. She also did a summer semester in Italy for college credit between 10th-11th grade. She applied to a number of ivies but I cannot say if she would’ve gotten in because she was accepted ED into her first choice college, Haverford. Only one school she applied to (Bryn Mawr) requested extra hoops for homeschoolers- they couldn’t choose test optional, required an on-campus interview, and had an extra essay about why homeschooling. She refused to apply anywhere that required more than the ACT for testing or that required lists of things like every book read in high school, detailed listing of course descriptions or how she was graded, etc. Since ALL of her grades came from either accredited private high schools or from community college, she felt it was cumbersome and not necessary to take those extra steps. She also wouldn’t apply to any schools (mostly located in NY) that required a GED from homeschoolers. Her applications to UPenn, Brown, Yale, etc were exactly the same as from any other student. She was also a Questbridge Finalist and is a Cooke scholar. I wouldn’t say that homeschooling hindered her in any way in the college process. It definitely enhanced her high school experience- she traveled widely and studied in many different environments, played sports to a high level, and pursued both research and her art.

    ETA: when my daughter was at oak meadow/laurel springs she had plenty of time for her passions and ECs. Her courses (5 per year) took her approximately two hours per day total for her to maintain her 4.0. Once she switched to full time DE, the lecture/lab times averaged 12 hours per week, and she spent roughly (if you averaged it out) four hours per week on homework. That included things like her 24 page honors paper in sports psychology.
  • Poppygirl14Poppygirl14 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    Thank you for your response, this was helpful. I don't think Laurel Springs sounds like the right choice for me, and I will look more into Oak Meadow. I don't think the tuition will be too much of a problem, as it will probably be cheaper than my overly expensive high school that I attend now. My parents aren't willing to do actual homeschooling, as they're busy and don't have the time.

    Also, your daughter sounds so smart! I can't believe she only spent two hours on her work. Do you think it will be a problem that I had no APs or Honors in Freshman year because my current school does not allow it? How did your daughter get 48 credits? Did she just take a lot of APs and duel enrollment? Could I do an online school and duel enrollment at the same time? From your estimations, it sounds like she spent about six hours a day on school work once she was doing full-time enrollment, does that sound accurate?

    Thank you for all your help. I really want to start research in Sophomore year on Ethics, so I'll start contacting professors this summer probably. I hope we can continue this discussion, as you've been very helpful in helping me understand online schooling. Do you or your daughter have any tips on studying and managing home/duel enrollment/online school? Thanks!
  • milgymfammilgymfam Registered User Posts: 271 Junior Member
    I don’t think the lack of rigor in freshman year will be a problem since you worked with what you had- my D had no extra rigor freshman year either. She gained her credits by doing dual enrollment classes (in person, but online would work too) while she did her high school work at the same time. Obviously the college classes took more time than the high school ones, since there were twice weekly required lectures involved. If cost isn’t an issue, I really do think that oak meadow is a wonderful choice for homeschoolers. You can even look into joining NHS after a year there. She only did school four days per week out of choice, so with her college courses and high school courses combined it was approximately 5 hours per day plus her lectures. Online college wouldn’t have the lectures though.
  • followyourdreamfollowyourdream Registered User Posts: 17 Junior Member
    Hello, Poppygirl14! I am currently a 10th grader at the George Washington University Online High School. My experience with the school has been excellent! The class sizes are small, and I can work at my own pace. In addition, my advisor is very supportive. My favorite part is that I am able to take advanced classes that I may not be able to take if I were at a brick and mortar school. For instance, even though I am in 10th grade, I am currently taking honors 11th grade courses. The lessons are online. I click through the screens of the lesson, as I read text, watch videos, and answer questions when prompted. Some lessons require offline materials, such as textbooks. Most lessons end with a quiz. Occasionally, I am required to turn in assignments to my teacher to grade and provide feedback, while other times, I participate in discussions with fellow students. Each subject has one live class per week, where I get together with my teacher and fellow students, as the teacher presents a PowerPoint lecture on a specific topic. Tests are online and can be either multiple choice (graded by the computer) or self-response (graded by the teacher). There are due dates for lessons and assignments, but you are provided with extra time to complete them. I communicate with my teachers mainly through email and Skype, and they always answer any questions I have. I follow a regular school schedule, but I still have time to study for tests and attend my extracurriculars while earning straight As. Regarding the schools you are looking into, maybe you could check to see if they are regionally accredited and offer a college preparation curriculum. University-affiliated online high schools offer reputable and advanced programs. Hope that helps! :)
  • SuperSenior19SuperSenior19 Registered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
    Just as a disclaimer, I've never done online school, but here's a few questions:

    -- Why specifically do you want to go to an online HS? If you already go to an advanced private HS, you should be getting the small class sizes, advanced academics, etc. that you want. Is there something you dislike with your current HS (bullying, not feeling challenged, etc.)? Is there another brick-and-mortar private school in your area that could meet your needs instead?

    -- Do you need the extra time/flexibility to pursue a sport or other passion? You mention starting a nonprofit -- how far are you into that process? Personally, even if you're very passionate about it, I wouldn't make that the reason you leave your current school. However, the flexibility is a plus, and for some people it's necessary.

    -- How do your parents feel about it? Are they willling/able to pay the money for a private online school? The ones you listed seem like good options if you're going to go that route.

    -- I would also encourage you to really reflect on how you would feel going to an online school. Are you ok with sitting in front of a computer all day? Will you miss talking to friends and joining clubs at school? Are you self-motivated enough to actually get up in the mornings and work independently, with no one telling you what to do and when? Like I said, I don't go to an online HS, and for me personally I know that it would be isolating and unproductive. Obviously YMMV, but I would consider it.

    I'm not trying to dissuade you from doing what you want, and I hope that I don't sound like I'm interrogating you (I'm not, you seem really nice!), but IMO this is a very important choice that is essentially akin to switching to homeschooling.
    I would not make this choice without seriously considering it and speaking directly to your teachers and parents about your concerns, hopes, etc.

    If you want to go to an online school because you think it will help you get into an Ivy, DON'T DO IT. I'm not an expert, but seriously, it won't. Not knocking online school, I'm sure you would get a spectacular education there, but you would also get a high-quality education at your current school without having to make such a drastic lifestyle change. Students from any high school can go to an Ivy. If anything, you'd have to work harder to "prove" you were using the extra time wisely if you went to online school.

    Again, I go to a regular public HS, so maybe I'm not the best source, but that's the advice I would give to a friend if they wanted to go to online HS.
  • Mom2aphysicsgeekMom2aphysicsgeek Registered User Posts: 4,341 Senior Member
    My kids homeschool and have the opportunity to pursue their passions and advance at their own level of abilities. That, however, is not the same environment as you will be tied to via an online high school. An online high school is just taking courses in a different format/location than a brick and mortar school plus additional hurdles.

    For example, online high schools don't offer AP exams. You, as the student, have to find a school that will be willing to allow you to sit for the exam. Some districts have schools that are easy to work with and it isn't an issue. Other districts can be very difficult and refuse to allow outside students sit for the exams with their students.

    Your SAT/ACT test scores will become more weighted than your course grades bc your grades will be considered untraditional.

    You might be required to submit additional testing like subject test scores (depends on the school).

    Homeschooling is not a panacea. It does come with additional hoops to jump through and college apps become slightly more complicated. You need to weigh the cons against the pros of your current school situation.

    Unless you have a compelling reason to alter your school attendance, I am not sure why you would want to take this route. I love homeschooling and am a huge homeschooling advocate, but it does not sound like you will be in a situation where the real advantages of homeschooling are going to be accessible. Are your parents willing to take on the responsibility of being your primary educators? Be directly involved in all aspects of your courses and daily academic work? Create transcripts? Courses? Be your guidance counselor? Write your counselor letter? If not, you will simply be changing the location of your high school and will still be functioning within that school's defined/controlled parameters without the benefit of anyone knowing you in person to write LOR about how you interact with peers, in the classroom, etc.
  • shuttlebusshuttlebus Registered User Posts: 382 Member
    @Poppygirl14 "E) Have any of you been accepted into the Ivy League or top colleges with these schools? How could I utilize these schools to help me do that? How does the curriculum compare with advanced private high school curriculum in general? "

    The online schools are not going to help you get into the Ivy League or other top colleges. I do know of students who have been accepted by Ivy League schools who attended an online high school, but it was the students' extracurricular activities that resulted in an admission, not the online school.

    Do you have a serious extracurricular activity that your current school schedule is preventing you from pursuing? If so, then going the online school route may be the right choice. But if you are thinking of going the online high school route because you think it might give you an advantage in college admissions, stay at your current high school.
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 5,449 Senior Member
    edited January 5
    I have no experience with online high schools. I am responding because I want to encourage you to think about what you would be sacrificing by leaving your current "advanced private high school" to study at home, presumably, with your computer.

    Social interaction is a very important part of life & an important part of the learning experience in high school. With the proliferation of remote jobs & of online learning, you could get both your high school & college degrees from your own home. Then, after graduation, take a job offering a remote work from home option. With home delivery of groceries, you could eliminate the need for human contact. Not my recommendation, but personal preference.

    You can still attend high school while supplementing your coursework with an online course studied in the evenings & on weekends.

    Socialization is important.
  • milgymfammilgymfam Registered User Posts: 271 Junior Member
    edited January 5
    I answered in your other thread about this, but I will add that if you’re going the online school route to look into Stanford’s online high school. It’s the most rigorous that I know of, and they seem to have excellent results. It’s likely to be as expensive, or perhaps even more expensive, than your current school though.
  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri Registered User Posts: 7,710 Senior Member
    I've read your other threads. I think it's a mistake to choose activities and educational opportunities based on what you think "looks good" on college applications. There's no formula for getting into the "Ivy League or top colleges."

    You said your parents are too busy to homeschool and you have to choose ECs carefully to avoid "financial strain," so online schools may not be a good fit for you. You'd need to find your own outside activities and that can be costly. Your parents would have to be very involved to help fill in the gaps. You can't depend on an online school to guide your curriculum choices so your parents would have to be in charge of that. The online schools provide transcripts, but your parents would have to act as your GC and provide everything else for your college application. They, not the online schools, are responsible for "managing your college plan" and "nurturing your passions."

    You might benefit from reading "How to be a High School Superstar" by Cal Newport. Good luck on your journey.
  • Poppygirl14Poppygirl14 Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    Sorry for the late reply SuperSenior, I have been busy lately.

    - I want to go to an online high school because I would like more flexibility to pursue my passions and interests. Also, I have social anxiety, which can be pretty stifling. My parents told me if I don't like my school, the only other option would be the public high school which would be even worse with the drugs and drama over there. I'm also working on my NGO, which is not in my community but international, so that's a lot of work. Also, the personal setting is very appealing.

    - Yes, I am starting a non-profit. I am not that far in the process, but would love to focus more time on it. I also am passionate about learning about ethics and how it plays in international politics, and I would love to pursue that more. At the same time I am passionate about mental health and I love learning about psychology and helping people who suffer from mental health issues.

    - My parents aren't really on board, though I'm working on convincing them. They already pay the 30K tuition for my sister and I at our private school, I don't think money would be a problem.

    - I would not miss my friends too much, as my real friends already go to a different school and I have social anxiety. I will have to think about the computer, I'm not good with tech, which is why I like Oak Meadow. I wake up at 4 or 5 AM at a regular basis to study, so yes, I think I would be motivated.

    - Although yes, like many, I hope to go to an Ivy, but I don't believe Online School will guarantee admittance or further it. In fact I'd love to go to a small liberal arts school like Mount Holyoke or Claremont McKenna. I just believe going to online school will help me further my passions with more time and flexibility.
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