How Does It Feel to Take a College Course in High School?

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Taking a college course in high school is not a new phenomenon. Between AP classes, dual enrollment, and concurrent enrollment, which we offer here at ASU Prep Digital, there are many options for students who want to take more challenging courses and get ahead of the competition. However, the idea of taking a college level class can be a bit intimidating.

We caught up with Annie Hale, ASU professor, who explains not only what it’s like for high school students to take college classes, but also why it’s beneficial. Watch the video below to find out what she had to say:

High School in College from ASU Prep Digital on Vimeo.

ASU Prep Digital CEO, Julie Young, Interviewed on the TeachThought Podcast

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The TeachThought Podcast

Episode 18 with Julie Young

Using virtual education, ASU Prep Digital is working to remove barriers that prevent or inhibit high school students from moving on to higher education. In this episode of the TeachThought Podcast, Drew Perkins is interviews Julie Young, the Deputy VP and CEO of Arizona State University.

Throughout this episode on the TeachThought Podcast, we hear about a lot of different barriers that students face when it comes to higher education – including the rising cost of college and universities paired with the requirements for above-average grades, test scores, and a high number of extra circulars. Students are being put under an almost constant pressure to perform higher and exceed expectations in every area of study. All while participating in sports, student clubs and/or their local community. What Julie really highlights in the interview is the simple concept that — not all students are perfect — but that shouldn’t make them ineligible for higher education.


“I was wondering if you could talk a little more about test scores being a performance measure. And if you were able to redo the system and sort of throw out how you get into college and grades, test scores and I know that I have a friend who has a daughter who is looking at colleges and who at this point, grades are being examined and ACT scores and other metrics and I am not particularly convinced that those are good metrics. So what are you seeing, or what you like to see in a perfect world, as sort of the pieces of metrics that should allow kids to get into colleges or universities?”


“Great question.

I don’t know that I think that all of those measures are necessarily, not necessary to take a look at. I think what is unfortunate and very sad in many situations is that if each one of those is considered gospel and is required for the package, you have students who are very, very capable but they don’t test well. So you will have a student who has exceptional grades and maybe a very high achiever in terms of their extracurricular activities, such as student government. They are a very solid contributing student…but maybe their ACT is poor because they don’t test well. Many, many colleges have the criteria that you have to check each box and when you don’t check one of the boxes, you are excluded

So, in my opinion, I think that…well, I am not one that believes that tests are evil and that we should not have any, I feel like we have gone overboard in the last ten years and we have too many. When you and I were kids, we had one a year. You took your test and off you went.”


“Ah, it was CAT testing, I think?”


“Yes! It was!

It was a validation point; it was a piece of information. It could give a teacher an opportunity to go “yes, this is matching up, the student is on track” or  “oh, there is a red flag here I might want to dig a little deeper. “

So I think what is kind of unfortunate, is that we have coupled all of these pieces and parts in such a way that is a student doesn’t check one box then they are not eligible.

I think that there is some fairly encouraging movement that they are close to almost one thousand accredited colleges and universities that have stopped using ACT and SAT scores to admit their students, which I think is very encouraging because it does give a student the opportunity to represent themselves in a holistic way as opposed to “well if I cant test well in the ACT then I’m done.”

So when we think about what we want to do in business and we read collectively always the discover your strengths, which is a wonderful view of how we should be capitalizing on our strengths instead of spending all of our time trying to strengthen our weaknesses. And I think about how these students enter college, so to answer your question:

I think all of that information is important to look at but I would love to see a more collective, objective view. That would allow students to make up for areas of defecate in other where areas of strength.”


ASU Prep Digital works hard to combine high school and university courses through virtual education, helping students capitalize on what matters most, their true strengths and talents. But in this podcast episode, Julie truly captures the key opportunity students should have — the ability to demonstrate a level of balance and passion in their path to higher education.

To hear the full episode, visit the TeachThought website or listen on iTunes

How College Preparatory Programs Are Helping to Democratize Education

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ASU Prep Digital and Miami Junior Senior High School Are Building a Next-Generation Classroom To Provide Additional Options to Students in a Rural Area

For many, the American Dream has a similar highlight reel during high school: four years spent making friends, discovering yourself, creating lifelong memories and, most importantly, preparing for college. Across the U.S., test scores and grade point averages consume student minds as they thumb through college pamphlets and mull over majors.

Unfortunately, this American Dream is not accessible to everyone. Due to a lack of academic resources, many high school teachers woefully watch promising young students give up on their college careers long before they’ve had a chance to unfold.

That’s where digital college-preparatory schools like ASU Prep Digital (ASUPD) come in. These institutions are stepping in to provide the academic support and programming necessary to empower students from all walks of life on their distinct paths toward collegiate success.

ASU Prep Partners with Miami Junior Senior High School

In the fall of 2017, ASUPD partnered with Miami Junior Senior High School in Miami, Arizona, to rejuvenate the academic potential of their students. The odds of going to college were stacked against the students of a town with a median family income of approximately $30,000, an unemployment rate of about 45 percent, and very few college graduates.

ASUPD trained Miami High’s teachers to use a blended learning to adopt a modern teaching style that caters to each student’s pace. Fueled by a shared passion for the future of these bright and often-overlooked teenagers, the program has a goal of building the next-generation classroom. The program has thus far been a success with students and families from surrounding communities expressing interest in taking part.

Miami Junior Senior High School Next-Generation Classroom

Bridging the Gap

The impact of this kind of immersive scholastic program extends far outside the classroom walls. Students who once felt helpless in commanding their future are now privy to an academic world once reserved for more privileged institutions.

According to Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., giving high school students access to college prep classes ignites within them a hope of achieving the American Dream, a dream that “however imperfectly realized it may be at times, has nonetheless been the engine of wealth generation, innovation, and upward mobility. But a college education has important non-economic benefits, as well: an engaged citizenry, healthier lives, and commitment to volunteerism, to name just a few.” In other words, these programs have the potential to permanently alter the course of these students’ lives.

And the positive effects of this next-generation classroom seem to ripple beyond the students themselves, ultimately affecting families and entire communities.

As a part of ASU PD’s partnership with Miami High, student Alexandra Anaya participated in the American Dream Academy, which offers resources for families who want to become versed in the college application process. Students learn how to apply to and pay for college, as well as the necessary steps to take before enrolling.

After finishing this course, Alexandra’s newfound confidence spread to other members of her family. Alexandra’s sister, Daisy, had graduated two years earlier but never applied to college out of fear and uncertainty. This program was the catalyst for Daisy’s academic success as she completed her first semester at Arizona State University the following spring.

Starting New Traditions

Many underserved high school students feel excluded from the college experience because it veers from their family’s long-steeped traditions. Often coming from homes that emphasize blue-collar jobs, these students don’t see themselves as fitting the “collegiate mold.” But according to an article in The New York Times, “Nearly 60 percent of admissions directors said they were likely to increase their recruiting of first-generation students this year,” indicating the tides are changing for these students.

These same students are energized to be the first in their family who can proudly sport collegiate attire. “Our students really felt like they were Sun Devils from day one, when lead teacher Mike Kasper and ASU Prep Digital Director Jill Rogier arrived to the school with bags of swag for the kids and spent a day walking them through online classes,” explains Miami High principal Glen Lineberry.

Generating a Bright Future

Rural communities across the nation have faced the problem of academic disappointment for quite some time. Principal Lineberry notes that the change in culture, economy, and education has widened the gap between rural school systems and their suburban and urban counterparts. Programs like ASUPD’s are transforming outdated curriculums and bridging long-standing socioeconomic divides. Next-generation classrooms and college prep programs illuminate a different path forward for students.

Findings by Pew Research Center reinforce that “on virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment—from personal earnings to job satisfaction to the share employed full time—young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education. And when today’s young adults are compared with previous generations, the disparity in economic outcomes between college graduates and those with a high school diploma or less formal schooling has never been greater in the modern era.”

For too long, students across the country have watched the door shut on their college dreams. Institutions like ASUPD are opening these doors and building new portals for success.

To learn more about ASU Prep Digital and the program implemented by Miami Junior Senior High School, contact us here

ASU Prep Digital CEO, Julie Young, Interviewed on the Discover Your Talent Podcast

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The Discover Your Talent Podcast:

Ep: 640 with Julie Young

In case you missed it, Julie Young was recently interviewed on the Discover Your Talent.  

Julie, started her career as a small classroom teacher. It was when her husband received a job transfer that she found herself in a new school. She asked for a computer, and ultimately that changed everything. This was the first step that launched Julie’s career of revolutionizing the K-12 Online Educational experience on a Global Scale. She is currently the Deputy Vice-President of Education Outreach and Student Services for Arizona State University and the CEO of ASU Prep Digital High School.

Hearing Julie talk about struggles we all face helps provide a level of perspective we wouldn’t otherwise have. It is always interesting to hear what successful people do to be successful, which is the main premise of the Discover Your Talent podcast. Although, what truly stands out here is the issue that Julie highlights:

Are people investing in what they really want to do and if not, then how can we help correct that developmental process?


“So when I graduated in 1981 with my elementary education degree, it was a time in Lexington where there were no jobs, there was a glut of teachers and I ended up with my first job being in a very small, little Catholic school in downtown Lexington Kentucky, St Peters. And I had 9 students in my classroom, they were all African-American students and I fell in love with teaching the day I walked in the door. And I fell in love with those students. And about 6 weeks after I started that job that I loved so much, my husband got an opportunity in Florida, which was very unexpected. He went down to Jupiter, Florida to have an interview.

Then he called form what would be the office, which overlooked the Atlantic Ocean. He said “honey, if we are ever going to make a move or do something adventurous in our lives, I think we should do this.'”


“Oh, what was he doing?”


“He actually graduated as a civil engineer and worked as an engineer in Lexington as a Civil Engineer and he hated it. He loved the people, they were wonderful people but he hated sitting a table designing bridges, drafting work, etc.

And that story is in of itself a driver for me; I’m terms of how we at ASU Prep Digital really want to expose students to careers, relevant exposure to careers at the earliest age possible.  

There were so many people that graduated at the same time as I did, that never went into the field that they graduated in because they did an internship their SENIOR year or spent two years in the field and went ‘oh my gosh, I can’t do this.'”


“It is an epic problem”

In summary, growing up and going through school we are all asked about a million times, “what do you want to do when you grow up?” However, not everyone receives the opportunity to really go out and experience the “workforce” until much later. Throughout this episode of the Discover Your Talent podcast, Julie asks “what if?” She elaborates on details that make you wonder. For example, what if we all had the opportunity to contact our teachers at any time? What if we all had the opportunity to intern at a younger age? What if we all had the opportunity to ask real professionals, real questions BEFORE we chose what we wanted to do?

Julie explains that when she started with her previous role with Florida Virtual School, she had the opportunity to ask “what if”, and that question has truly contributed to the success of these programs, a success that can be defined as discovering your true talent and doing what you love. ASU Prep Digital is doing our part to improve on this process.

Click here to hear the full episode and more about how the success of Julie Young speaks back to the success of her work with ASU Prep Digital.

ASU Prep Digital COO Discusses Online Education on EdChoice Chats Podcast

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Earlier this year ASU Prep Digital COO, Amy McGrath, sat down with Mike McShane from the EdChoice Chats Podcast to discuss online learning, policy and the mission of ASU Prep Digital.

McShane and McGrath had a great conversation, really shedding light on what it is like to start a new learning option for students in our current education landscape. To hear the full episode, visit the EdChoice website or check it out on iTunes

Mike McShane: “I’m curious, you’ve been involved in this space and you’ve lived in these. Just given this particular venture, I would love to know sort of what were the hardest thing that you all have had to overcome. I know you’re sort of early in the process now, but to actually get this thing up and running, what were some hurdles that you had to clear?”

Amy McGrath: “It continues to be a hurdle, and I think that’s because most of what works right now for students at scale is tied and anchored to a school model that I think there are really great school models out there and some progressive leaders in the space. But to truly focus on the learner as opposed to the actual system, the machine, it gets very difficult to plug into that. So creating these complex adaptive systems from a technology standpoint that can kind of jump in with the students and the entry point is the school, there tends to be friction there. Not even from the people, just from the actual system.

So that would probably be one of the many, but when we talk about how online kind of permeates all of the different ways that students learn, that’s been the bright spot. Kids are coming to us and we’re seeking out a lot of student feedback in terms of this is how we want to learn; this is what we want learning to look like. We know we’re moving in the right direction, I think it’s the adults that kind of have to figure it all out, but the kids have already figured it out.”

Mike McShane: “Sure, no absolutely. And I’m curious on the policy front, obviously, we here at EdChoice do a lot of writing about and researching policy, a lot of my background comes from doing research on policy. Are there sort of concretely maybe two or three sort of policy barriers that you run into? I know as you mentioned, there’s culture barriers and there’s sort of systemic issues, but are there specific policies that make your life difficult?”

Amy McGrath: “I think part of that is us demonstrating a progressive model that we hope policy will follow. Arizona is really nice in terms of the landscape there and offers quite a bit of autonomy. I’m thinking right now of our ESA situation right now and we’ve got some of our students that are actually leveraging the empowerment scholarship, so I think we have some small wins there but we’d like to see more volume behind that. And additionally, I think we’re really after kind of the student-centered decisions, and part of that will be students being able to make a decision based on the right instructional choice for them. And that might be parents doing that as well, and so what does that look like from a policy standpoint?

In Florida we had, when we established Florida Virtual School, we had the backing of the legislature and that was very helpful for us. And a part of our growth, our spike in enrollment, was really due to the fact that we worked with the legislature on this and a law was passed for all students in high school to take an online course before graduating. And so, of course, we saw kind of an avalanche from that. There are various pieces of policy that will drive us forward from an enrollment standpoint, but we’re also very hopeful that we’re going to see some legislation that backs kind of a “move on when ready” and “advance when ready” type of mentality where students are not tied to seek time, rather performance.”

Listen to the full episode here. To learn more about ASU Prep Digital courses, visit

Top 7 Things They Don’t Want You to Know About Taking Online Courses

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“Take a course to get ahead!” They say… but really, what’s the deal with online high school? Virtual schools are everywhere, but most people aren’t telling you the real reasons to try it.

Don’t like to wake up early? Online courses are ready when you are.

No joke. Taking online high school classes means you work when, where, and how you want. Not an early bird? Log in at noon—your English class is ready for you. Have plans tonight? Log in to get some work done when you get home—your math class is always open. Schedule flexibility is one reason so many students and families are taking their high school classes online. 

Online classes can help you graduate early.

By taking additional credits alongside your high school work, you have the opportunity to graduate early, which means more time to pursue what you love. Maybe you want to work more hours, start college sooner or maybe you’re the youngest pro tennis player ever and you need more time to practice. Take some online classes and you can work toward earning your high school diploma and graduating as soon as you’re ready.

Online does not mean working alone.

It’s not the 90s anymore—online learning doesn’t happen in an isolated underground computer lab. When you take an online high school class, you join a community of learners. You have a real teacher, there are real students to collaborate with, along with clubs and activities to take part in. This connection can feel deeper than traditional courses because in an online school much of the teaching is one-on-one, it’s all about you. 

You can boost your GPA!

Many online schools offer Advanced Placement, Honors and even dual enrollment or concurrent enrollment college-level courses, which can give your GPA the boost it needs to be competitive for college. If your local school doesn’t offer these courses, online high schools (like ASU Prep Digital) may be a way to get the weighted credit that can really help out your GPA.

On the other hand, if you’ve failed a high school course, online learning means you won’t be held back.

Everyone makes mistakes. Before online high school classes, failing a class could have meant being held back and missing out. Now, by retaking that dreaded class online, you may be able to replace the course you failed without repeating it at school.

Online learning helps students figure out how the adult world works.

Much of adult life happens online. From banking to interviews and even remote work, people today have to figure out how to use so many different systems to get through life. Students who take online classes learn how to navigate unfamiliar situations and working environments like they’re a breeze! Taking a virtual high school course means that you’ve got a jump start on adult life—it’s an online class benefit that they don’t tell you about. 

Get a head start toward college.

Want to get ahead of the competition when it comes to college admission? Start college courses while you’re still in high school. A few online high schools offer dual enrollment courses, allowing you to receive college credit from a local community college. You don’t have to drive to your local campus anymore to get the benefits. Better yet, ASU Prep Digital offers concurrent enrollment, allowing students anywhere in the world to be enrolled in both high school and Arizona State University classes at the same time. These University courses count for high school and college credit. And because ASU is a Level 1 Research University, the credits transfer anywhere. Completing these online courses will prove to any college admissions staff you’re ready for the challenge and will save you time and money when you arrive on campus with some of your courses already done.

We understand if you still have fears about taking online courses. While online learning isn’t for everyone, taking even a few virtual high school courses can help you catch up, get ahead or jump start your GPA. Educate yourself about your options and what online learning is really like.

ASU Prep Digital is one way to get there. Learn more, at



Originally published on September 7, 2017

Old Enough: Why Age Doesn’t Matter

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How ASU Prep Digital Allows Students to Learn Dynamically

Everyone has heard of students who have transcended the boundaries of age: the high schooler who starts her own business, the middle schooler who enrolls in online high school courses, the retiree who gets her high school diploma. These paradigm-breakers resist the traditional age expectations assigned by the year they were born. They do the work at their own pace of intelligence and go where their life calls them. Can you imagine what we could achieve as a culture if all people viewed lifelong learning this way? 

Those who have reached beyond their age are often labeled prodigies or phenoms. No doubt when you hear these stories, you remember back to your own experience in school. How many of us have felt held back when we had an intellectual leap that our peers did not? Or, maybe we watched as our peers moved ahead while we needed a little more time.

Some learning models naturally accommodate these leaps and pauses in the spectrum of learning and living. Multi-age classrooms or one-room schoolhouses follow the child through their learning, encouraging individualized paths. But the larger and more regulated educational systems became, the more out-of-focus the student appeared. This isn’t blame-placing; traditional educational systems operating at capacity often struggle to resist mission drift. 

In my world, age matters a little less than it does in other places. At ASU Prep Digital, students progress at their own pace through online high school and concurrent enrollment in college courses. It’s the expectation, not the exception. By getting what society perceives as a head-start, ASU Prep Digital students benefit from being seen apart from the norm — giving them a distinct, concrete advantage when they apply to college. And perhaps most importantly, by eliminating age as a construct in learning, students are empowered to shape their worlds and contribute to the global community.

To break the paradigm of age as a barrier – and as a construct – on a systemic level is an absolute game changer.

There is no more effective way to change the world, at both the community and global levels, than to liberate our students of all ages to learn faster, better, and smarter. More and more, the workforce of today is dynamic. The career you start will likely not be the career from which you retire. Or maybe, you don’t retire at all but instead, continue to work well into retirement age.

This concept of moving forward—beyond age, to allow each student to work toward their goals at a pace that matches their needs and ambitions isn’t new, but there are very few places in the world where this is the standard instead of a deviation. ASU Prep Digital is growing exponentially to meet the needs of the students and families who see this opportunity for what it truly is—the ideal way to educate students for a dynamic workforce. 

To learn more about ASU Prep Digital and their teaching model, read this blog post.