We’ve all heard at least something about online learning. A friend from work has a daughter who graduated high school early or a neighbor finished his masters while working his full-time job. We’ve heard it’s more affordable, more convenient and the credits really do apply. And now, high schoolers can even take dual enrollment courses online.
So, what’s the excuse? It seems like a no-brainer if you have a kid in high school. They can get ahead, prepare for college and earn real credits to avoid wasting a ton of money on that freshman year—right? Well, the truth is, there are still a ton of parents that just haven’t bought into the whole “online learning” idea. But why? What’s the suspicion? Let’s look into some of the assumed drawbacks of getting an online education.
“It’s too hard.”
John Rohn said, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.”
The biggest concern that most parents have about their kids doing online classes is that they lack the time management and discipline to do the work. They don’t have a teacher watching over their shoulders to make sure they finish the assignment. I have overheard our neighbors talking with their high school daughters wondering whether they finished an online assignment, only to hear, “Oh, yeah—I read that lesson.” Sure you did. Truthfully, yes, online classes do require some self-discipline and checking in from time to time. But students are definitely not on their own, bobbing around in an ocean of internet coursework. They have a great course outline and accessible teachers to chat with and help them run the course, not get run over by it!
“I’m all alone.”
Another big worry is that “online classes don’t give you face-to-face interaction.” The assumption is that you’re all alone—just sitting in your living room doing hours of school work every day. It’s true that students taking online high school courses don’t go to a physical building. They aren’t surrounded by people all day. They take their courses on their own time, but it’s not true that they’re alone. There are thousands of other students doing this from all over the world; so they’re joining a community of real people doing the same coursework they are. Students can chat with classmates and teachers, join class discussions and study groups and even jump onto live video lessons taught by the course instructors each week.
“There are no teachers to help.”
One of the biggest fears with online learning is the ability to get help when you need it. The reality is, most modern online high school programs have an assigned teacher for each class. While models differ, many offer one-on-one and small group instruction along with personalized feedback on assignments. Technology tools have made it easier to connect with teachers via video chat, text and email. If a student is taking an online course at their local school, they may have an instructor in the room with them. If they’re working from home, many teachers are available on-demand throughout the day. And if they’re enrolled in a concurrent college credit program, they may have a college professor to turn to along with their online high school teacher and success coach.
Fear not, online learning is not as scary as some people think. Millions of high school students successfully complete virtual high school courses each year. Some are catching up with credit recovery, some are getting ahead and some are getting a jump start toward college. If you get the chance, set those fears aside and give it a try.
Originally published on September 12, 2017, updated on March 5, 2018.