Navigating College Courses as a High School Student: A Practical Guide

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ASU Prep Digital’s College Pathway program gives students the chance to take university courses and earn credits in their major while still in high school, saving them both time and money when they get to college. Our innovative concurrent course program empowers students to design their own educational journey, one that seamlessly transitions them from high school to college and beyond.

If you’re a student on an accelerated path, make the most of your educational experience with some invaluable tips to guide and support you.

Organization: Your Secret Weapon for Success

Staying organized is crucial in managing your workload and excelling in your studies. Here’s how:

Read and Understand Your Syllabus: It will include important information like your professor’s contact information and office hours, an outline of course content, breakdown of grading/assignments, and required materials.

Create a Schedule: Develop a realistic schedule that includes your classes, study time, and other commitments. Remember to allocate dedicated blocks for studying and completing assignments. Don’t forget that a three-credit college course requires about 9 hours of work per week!

Use a Planner or Digital Tools: After reviewing your course syllabus, use a planner or digital tool to track important dates, deadlines, and tasks. This will keep you on top of your coursework.

Break Down Tasks: Large assignments or projects can seem daunting. Break them down into smaller, manageable steps to make steady progress and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Prioritize: Determine task priority based on deadlines and importance. Focus on urgent or high-priority assignments first, but don’t neglect long-term projects.

Stay Ahead of Deadlines: Avoid last-minute rushes by staying ahead of deadlines. Plan your work to allow ample time for reviewing and revising assignments before submission.

Communication: The Key to Enhance Learning

Effective communication is key in college courses. Here are some tips for mastering discussion boards and other communication platforms:

College-Level Writing: Express your ideas clearly and coherently, using proper grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation. Organize your thoughts logically and support your points with evidence.

Academic Tone: Maintain a respectful and professional tone. Engage in dialogue with open-mindedness towards diverse perspectives and avoid personal attacks.

Depth and Analysis: Go beyond superficial responses. Delve deeper into the topic, analyze concepts critically, and provide thoughtful insights supported by evidence.

Digital Etiquette: Show maturity by adhering to proper digital etiquette. Use appropriate language, avoid offensive remarks, and respect the privacy of fellow students.

Use College Email: Communicate with your professor and college staff using your official ASU email address. This shows professionalism and ensures your messages will be recognized and responded to.

Feeling Stuck? Here’s What to Do.

Facing obstacles is natural. If you find yourself stuck, follow these steps:

Stay Calm and Assess: Take a deep breath and identify where you’re struggling. Is it a particular concept, assignment, or study technique?

Reach out to Peers: Collaborate with classmates or form study groups. Fresh perspectives can help clarify doubts.

Communicate with the Instructor: Don’t hesitate to reach out to your instructor through email or during office hours. Most are approachable and willing to help.

Utilize Campus Resources: Use academic resources like tutoring centers, writing labs, or study skills workshops.

Review Course Material: Revisit difficult material and try alternative learning methods if needed.

Seek Counselor Assistance: If challenges persist, connect with your Learning Success Coach for academic and guidance support.

Stay Persistent and Positive: Remember, challenges are part of the learning process. Stay persistent, remain positive, and view mistakes as opportunities for growth.

Navigating college courses as a high school student can be challenging and rewarding. With organization, effective communication, and determination, you’ll be well on your way to success!

Learn More
For more information about ASU Prep Digital’s College Pathways, please visit our website.

Summer Tips: Prepare for Success This School Year

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Summer months are ideal for students to unwind, reset, and build on their skills. But with so much freedom to do anything, it can be tricky for students to refocus on the academic preparation needed as summer winds down and the online school year approaches. Thankfully, it’s a matter of parents and students finding the right balance between downtime and schoolwork. Let’s dive into what you can do now to lay the groundwork for a seamless and successful virtual academic year ahead.

Explore Your Online School’s Resources

Most schools have an extensive range of online resources, including learning platforms, rubrics, and even coaches and guidance counselors. These resources help give students an idea of what the curriculum will look like so they better understand what to expect. Students who are familiar with the school’s platform, format, and learning materials are better equipped to succeed. This knowledge also helps with time management and focus, so students are better prepared to complete their online assignments and assessments on time.

Encourage Positive Thinking

A positive attitude sets the tone for a good year ahead. Speak words of encouragement and praise to your student and help them establish positive self-talk, which is important for them to achieve their academic goals. For example, if your student is struggling in a particular subject, instead of getting frustrated, find creative ways to encourage them by focusing on their strengths and reminding them that hard work and perseverance pay off. Also, encourage them to view “failure” as a learning experience, embracing it as an opportunity to evaluate, revise, and improve. If needed, seek out enrichment or academic support opportunities to help your student increase their confidence and academic skills.

Set Personal Goals

It’s essential for your student to have a clear vision of what they want to achieve. Involve your student in the goal-setting process by finding out what motivates them and then making it fun. Use vision boards, tracking charts, or create a positive environment to encourage them to work toward their goals. The goals should be achievable, realistic, and timely, to help your child stay on track. Motivate them by celebrating small successes along the way and reflecting on obstacles that they have overcome.

Create a Flexible Schedule

Online students who work from home do best with a set routine and schedule to encourage good time management habits. Along with academic activities, plan for daily physical exercise and outdoor activities, which will help students keep their stress levels down, sharpen their minds, and set the stage for the upcoming academic year. Creating a flexible schedule will help students take control of their time and be proactive in determining when they should be studying and when they need to take a break. Don’t forget to block out time for recreation, family time, and relaxation.

Communicate with Teachers and your Learning Success Coach

Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out (or encourage your student to reach out) to online teachers or their Learning Success Coach (LSC) with any questions or concerns. This way, you’ll pave the way for better communication for the upcoming school year. Depending on the need, teachers and LSCs may provide supplemental learning material, clarify assignments, provide study tips, or offer advice to your student when needed.

Going back to school can be an exciting time for both students and their families. With the right planning and preparation, families can equip their students with tools and resources required to ensure a successful school year. All it takes is small steps, setting reasonable goals, and the commitment to improve continually.

Summer Tips: Prepare to Get Involved This School Year

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Education plays an integral role in teaching social skills and cues, introducing students to different social situations. Because of this, many believe that students who enroll in online schools miss out on the socialization component—but this is a myth. Online school is just as fun and social, especially when students find the right opportunities for interaction and connection. Join us as we explore how to make the most of your student’s online learning journey with tips for getting involved this upcoming school year.

Create Learning Pods with Friends

One of the most significant advantages of virtual schools is the opportunity to interact and learn from diverse people from all over. However, socializing with online students can be enhanced through planned face-to-face interaction. That’s where learning pods come in. A learning pod is a small group of students who regularly meet to study and socialize. In today’s digital age, learning pods could meet in-person or even in video chats, providing a virtual way to further build relationships and enhance learning with students who have similar interests. Creating a learning pod with friends who share common interests can be a great way for your family to get involved.

Turn Camera On During Class Time

Imagine entering a virtual class, and everyone has their camera turned off. That’s not an ideal scenario for encouraging interaction or discussion. When students use their camera during class time, it offers a visual representation of who they are, their personality, and helps make a better connection with other students in the class. It’s important to remember that building that connection early-on helps ease social interactions after class, as well. Turning on your camera can help students prepare to get involved in online school in a social manner.

Participate in Sports and Activities You Enjoy

Online learning provides an unmatchable level of flexibility, including time management when it comes to balancing school and extracurricular activities like sports. Students have more options when it comes to adjusting their schedule to take part in sports or activities they love. This is a great way for them to keep up with hobbies while meeting new coaches, friends, and even mentors outside of school.

Seek Out Clubs and Extracurricular Activities

Online learning isn’t limited to academics only. Many quality virtual schools, including ASU Prep Digital, host active clubs and extracurricular activities for their students. Check with your online school to see what clubs and extracurriculars are offered and encourage students to actively seek out clubs that interest them. Make a point to attend their meetings and events, staying invested in regular communication with club members throughout the year. If there’s not a club that interests your student, see if you can start one! Reach out to the school’s administration to inquire about creating a group or starting an organization independently.

Take Advantage of School-Sponsored Face-to-Face Activities

Many virtual schools, including ASU Prep Digital, provide school-sponsored activities such as prom, hybrid learning options, and meet-ups, which enable students to meet others in person and further build on their online connections. These activities can be especially beneficial to those who are eager to connect with others during their at-home learning experience.

Online learning has brought with it an incredible variety of opportunities and benefits. For those who are familiar or newly transitioning to an online learning environment, take advantage of various socializing opportunities to enhance the experience while also preparing to get involved and engaged. By following the tips outlined here, you can create long-lasting friendships and memories that will last well beyond the school year.

Own Your Learning with ASU Prep Digital and an Empowerment Scholarship Account

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For families looking to customize educational opportunities, ASU Prep Digital and an Empowerment Scholarship Account make the perfect team to meet your family’s needs.

Could I use Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program to attend ASU Prep?

Yes. ASU Prep Digital is an accredited K–12 online school and an approved Class Wallet vendor, the financial management platform used for scholarships deposits. 

What is an Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) and how do I use it?

Every K–12 student in Arizona is eligible to participate in the ESA program, regardless of family income or the student’s past academic abilities or performance. 

The program, administered by the Arizona Department of Education, puts funds in the hands of guardians to make choices for what education option works best for their children. The annual scholarship of approximately $6000-$9000 (more when eligible due to disability) is deposited quarterly to each family’s account with Class Wallet.

Parents sign a contract confirming that their selected schooling route will include reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science. Then funds can be spent on any education-related expenses, like school tuition, home education curriculum, tutoring, technology and materials, therapies and enrichment experiences. You can find more information on the ESA website.

What are the benefits of using an ESA to attend ASU Prep Digital?

Since ESA funds can be used on allowable educational expenses at each family’s discretion, students may enroll in one class or a full course load at ASU Prep Digital. This includes concurrent courses that earn both high school and university credit. Earning tuition-free college credit while in high school not only saves money but also accelerates the path to a degree. 

There are some unique school models available to families, including microschools and the Khan World School at ASU Prep

ASU Prep Digital has teamed up with Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, for a unique and flexible online school model that rewards curiosity and self-advocacy. Students are engaged in discussion, collaboration and real-world problem-solving. Throughout the advanced college-prep curriculum, students are supported by peers and learning success coaches. 

The ASU Prep microschool and hybrid programs combine the flexibility of online learning with in-person, hands-on collaboration and career exploration. 

Where do I go to learn more?

Learn more about the Empowerment Scholarship Account at Arizona Department of Education

ASU Prep’s Class of 2023: Celebrating our Stand-out Graduates

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ASU Prep’s May 25th graduation celebrated more than 550 students from across the five ASU Prep Academy campuses as well as the ASU Prep Digital program. Among these impressive graduates were gifted scholars, competitive athletes, flourishing artists, and students with inspiring stories of success. ASU Prep is proud to have played a role supporting these dynamic students and their journeys.

Paris Cepkauskas: Creative Artist

Paris Cepkauskas is well-prepared for her future, thanks in big part to the concurrent classes she took while still enrolled at ASU Prep Digital. With an impressive 47 college credits already applied to her major (graphic design with a minor in fashion design), Paris will be able to graduate in just three years. What’s more, those courses gave her a sneak peek of what to expect when she becomes a full-time Sun Devil; she’s headed to ASU’s Barrett Honors College this fall.

Paris says, “ASUPD was the best decision I could have made for my education, and I wouldn’t change a single thing.” She adds, “Having the flexibility gave me so many more opportunities to follow my passions and spend time with the people I love.” For Paris, this means more time to dedicate to art, family, and friends.

Paris’ creative interests include theater, art, and design. The artistic design she created on her graduation cap earned her second place. It’s no surprise her future plans include working as a graphic designer. 

Paris advises incoming freshmen to really work with their teachers, asking questions and building relationships.

Vivek Habbu: Badminton Player

As a professional badminton player, Vivek Habbu knows a thing or two about staying fast on his feet and keeping his eye on the prize. An international student from Pune, India, Vivek has taken advantage of the flexibility ASU Prep Digital offers so he can balance academics with his badminton career. 

ASU Prep Digital’s approach, including academic rigors, interactive learning tools, and one-on-one time with faculty have been an ideal fit with Vivek’s practice schedule and learning style. 

Vivek says ASU Prep Digital has given him an “important overview of college life” and he has enjoyed the experience so much that he plans to study physics as an undergrad through ASU Online. He looks forward to continuing his education as well as his badminton career. 

Mahkaylah Hopkins: The Importance of Relationships 

During her time at ASU Prep Academy South Phoenix, Mahkaylah has learned the importance of relationships – with staff and peers, family, and most importantly, herself. 

One of Mahkaylah’s favorite aspects of ASU Prep is the connections she made with supportive staff members. She gives special shout-outs to Mr. Gibbs for being “so consistent, reliable, and caring,” Mrs. Avise for being “an outlet” for Mahkaylah to express her feelings, and Miss Tahj and Miss Tendai  for being “beautiful people,” providing strong African American female influence. Also important to Mahkaylah are her classmate connections and “learning what it meant to be a friend.” As student body president of the Class of 2023, Mahkaylah was able to really immerse herself in school spirit and culture. 

After experiencing her parents’ tumultuous divorce and her mother’s passing in 2015, Mahkaylah values the profound effect her family has on her. She recognizes her dad for “unconditional love and support,” her stepmom for being “a breath of fresh air for our family,” and her Chicago family for support from afar. 

Mahkaylah has grown through navigating life experiences, including her personal journey to overcome depression. The most important relationship she’s fostered along the way is the one with herself. She proudly attests, “Discovering how to love yourself is definitely one of the best experiences in the world. I did the work, I adapted, I learned, and I loved.”

This path has led Mahkaylah to be a nationally recognized scholar with numerous scholarship offers from various institutions. She plans to attend ASU in Tempe this fall, where she’ll be majoring in philosophy with an emphasis on morality, politics, and law.

Terra Jang: Multi-faceted Learner

A stand-out scholar, Terra is graduating from ASU Prep Digital with an unweighted 4.0 GPA, plus 31 college credits – all courses she earned dual credit and straight As for completing. Not to mention that she is a National Merit Finalist, scoring a perfect 36 on the ACT college admission exam. 

Terra also excels outside of the classroom, designing and crocheting amigurumi (Japanese-style little creatures made of yarn). In an International Amigurumi Design Contest, Terra won 21st place (out of 687 design entries) for an adorable sea otter. 

A well-rounded community member, Terra volunteers as an ASU Prep peer tutor, as well as within her own neighborhood as a “Big Sister.” She has been a part of various clubs, including the robotics club and the video game club.

Terra will be studying computer science at Vanderbilt in the fall. Impressively, she is one of just 10 students among the incoming class at Vanderbilt’s School of Engineering who have been selected as this year’s Clark Scholars and will receive, among other perks, a spot in the university-funded summer program and $15,000 per year.

Saraia Lolly: Career-Driven 

When asked about her experience at ASU Prep Academy Polytechnic, Saraia focuses on her career ambitions and the learning opportunities to pursue them.

As a sophomore, Saraia earned a spot in a highly competitive Running on Sun Internship that gave her a front-row seat to ASU’s chemistry program. Through the internship, Saraia gained hands-on experience with scientific projects that opened her eyes to the countless ways technology solves problems – in science and beyond.

That experience inspired her to pursue a career putting technology to practical use solving modern world problems. Saraia was accepted into the Building Leaders and Creating Knowledge (B.L.A.C.K.) Community, a residential program that incorporates Black/African American/African cultural knowledge and experiences with academic support in a living community. “I’m looking forward to being surrounded by people who look like me and have the same goals and values,” Saraia says, noting it’s an extension of the recipe for success she discovered at ASU Prep Poly. She plans to major in business management with a minor in cyber security at the University of Arizona this fall.

Saraia encourages future students to “focus on education because that is what will get you where you want in the long run.”

Paul Montoya: Ahead of the Curve

Paul Montoya, Jr. graduated from ASU Prep Digital with 26 Arizona State University classes under his belt (78 college credits in all), putting him well on his way to earning a bachelor’s degree in computer systems engineering with a focus in cyber security.

Combined with credits earned through community college, Paul has enough hours stacked up to enter ASU’s College of Engineering as a college senior – at the age of 18. He plans to live on campus in the freshman dorms, but he’s also planning to celebrate his college graduation exactly one year after he receives his high school diploma.

Paul covered most of the requirements for his freshman and sophomore college courses during his sophomore year at ASU Prep Digital (and the summers before and after).

Starting his junior year, he began attending more advanced courses on the ASU campus, in addition to fulfilling his high school requirements. He earned credibility among his older peers by carrying his weight (and then some) on group projects, and he began competing in monthly tournaments with the ASU Chess Club, where he again held his own.

The only thing holding him back from entering the professional workforce just a year after finishing high school is a desire to experience the social aspect of college. So as any academically gifted student would, he’s considering a dual undergraduate degree – or maybe even attending grad school to pursue a PhD in nanotechnology, which he mentions with humble nonchalance.

This summer, he is spending twelve weeks in Houston as an intern at Honeywell.

More Awesome Graduates 

ASU Prep is so proud of all of our graduates. We asked each graduate to tell us where they are headed for their post-secondary plans, their favorite memory from ASU Prep, and who they would like to thank. Read their responses here

Next-Level Twinning: Identical Twins Graduate as Co-Valedictorians

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Andrew and Nicholas De Lapp, 2023 ASU Prep Casa Grande graduates, excel in many areas, “twinning” included. The identical twins stuck together through high school, succeeding in academics and participating as student-athletes at Barça Residency Academy, the prestigious elite youth soccer program located within the Grande Sports World Campus that ASU Prep Casa Grande calls home. Most recently, the dynamic duo was recognized as co-valedictorians of their 2023 ASU Prep graduating class. 

As Andrew and Nick prepared to turn the tassels of their graduation caps and deliver their co-valedictorian speech, they reflected on their high school journey. 

The ASU Prep Experience

When recalling favorite moments, the De Lapp twins agree they enjoyed organizing and participating in school events, like a recycling contest and field day. For Andrew, a standout experience was volunteering for a nonprofit organization, explaining, “It cemented my love of helping others and volunteering to make an impact.” For Nick, participating in these events helped him “see how much I love helping people.”

Andrew and Nick also praise Barça Academy as crucial to their growth at ASU Prep. Because it’s a residency program, student-athletes live away from home in dorm-like accommodations, helping the brothers prepare for the independence of college life and beyond. 

On the path of balancing a schedule full of extracurriculars, soccer, and rigorous academics, the staff at ASU Prep was there to support at every step. Andrew acknowledges that everyone at ASU has been “massively helpful” but is especially grateful to Sean Mark, a chemistry teacher who “sparked my love of science.” Nick singles out principal Sylvia Mejia for promoting a great learning environment and countless opportunities. The brothers both credit academic advisor Denice Douglas for all her guidance and endless support. 

Nick, the older brother by two minutes, sums it up well. “When I look back at ASU Prep, I will most remember the people I met. The people you bring along on your journey make it that more special. Build a network of more inspiring, smarter, more successful friends, mentors and co-workers, and they will help you succeed in your own right.”

Lessons Learned along the Way

Success doesn’t come easy, and the brothers both acknowledge challenges along the way. Andrew felt the pressure of the college decision process, including researching and visiting schools, while still keeping up with his school work and extracurricular activities. Despite the hard work, Andrew says, “Life is all about enjoying the experience. It’s vital to take some time to enjoy the moment. If you’re always working, you’ll never be able to enjoy what you’ve worked for.”

Nick feels the most challenging experience has been balancing a busy schedule and maintaining the confidence to get it all done. He credits his strong support system for keeping him going and advises others, “Cherish every single moment. Do your best at anything you do and try everything. I believe the regret of having never done something feels much worse than the regret of failure or embarrassment. You can learn something from each experience you have.”

It’s a Family Thing

Along with ASU Prep Casa Grande and the Barça Residency soccer community, the De Lapp brothers credit their family for providing them with support and strong guidance. Their parents both work in the healthcare field, their father as an orthopedic surgeon and their mother as a physical therapist. Nick calls them “very hard workers who juggle a lot of responsibilities,” while Andrew says they’ve “always been there through thick and thin,” providing a strong example and inspiring the recent graduates to pursue their own futures in the medical field.  

Andrew plans to become a neurosurgeon, while Nick aspires to be an orthopedic surgeon like his father. Having already earned college credits while attending ASU Prep, they are well on their way to meeting these goals. 

The duo earned merit scholarships and this fall will head to Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota to continue their education and play soccer for the Scots—Andrew as a winger and Nick as center back.

Best of luck to these two outstanding ASU Prep graduates. With a strong foundation and their performance record, Andrew and Nicholas De Lapp are sure to succeed in all their future endeavors.


Summer Tips: Making Financial Literacy a Healthy Habit

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We spend a lot of time encouraging children to maintain healthy habits, from eating their veggies and brushing their teeth to practicing internet safety and being kind to others. Let’s add another healthy habit to the list: financial literacy.

Financial literacy should be introduced when kids are young and should include understanding “money basics” like expenses, budgeting, and saving. Learning money management is a healthy habit that will help kids make better decisions long-term. Try the following tips this summer to practice financial literacy with all ages.  

  1. Talk about money. When making money decisions, think aloud to model this behavior for kids. When shopping, let them know when you’re comparing costsconsidering sale prices or inspecting tags for the unit price, for example. Point out the use of coupons, weighing your needs versus wants and price markups in certain situations like entertainment venues. 
  2. Assign money-related tasks. Have children assist with bill-paying when dining out. Younger kids can simply hand a server credit card or cash (then deal with the change), while older children can help calculate the tip and total cost. When shopping, encourage kids to scan items at the self checkout so they can see the items add up and be more aware of the growing total, as well as the role of tax. 
  3. Create a budget. Include children in budgeting for summer plans. Whether it’s for summer camps or a family outing, define an allowance and have kids help determine how to spend it. For example, set aside $50 for family night and let them figure out if that’s enough for a movie plus snacks at the theater or if it would be better spent with dinner out and a movie at home. 
  4. Play games. Make learning about money fun through gameplay. Monopoly (or Monopoly Jr.) is a popular board game where players buy and trade properties and deal with rent. Other games that involve money are The Game of Life, Payday, Money Bags, or The Allowance Game. There are also apps focused on financial literacy, such as Peter Pig’s Money Counter or Cash Puzzler.
  5. Teach value through ownership. When children earn their own money, whether through chores or a part-time job, they will be more likely to value it. Have them track their hard-earned funds using an age-appropriate app like Rooster Money or Bankaroo. Older children might be interested in Greenlight, a debit card for kids that requires parent oversight. Discuss options for managing money responsibly, from a savings account to investing in stocks.

Being confident when it comes to interacting with money is a healthy habit that sets up kids for success well into their future. With the extra expenses of summer, like camps, vacations and meals, it is an ideal time to start a conversation and include children in money matters.