How ASU Prep Digital Met the Rising Demand for Online Learning

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It’s no secret COVID-19 has affected every part of our daily lives, forcing us to rethink the way we work, connect, and educate. As schools began to close around the country in the early days of the pandemic, parents helped their children shift to a remote learning experience and took an active role in their education. When the spring semester ended, school districts and families alike had difficult choices to make: do we resume in-person learning come fall? Parents took the time to weigh their options, and many turned to schools with proven success in online education—schools such as ASU Prep Digital. So how did ASU Prep Digital meet the rising demand for online learning?

Expanding the program to include grades K-12

ASU Prep Digital was founded in 2017 with several goals in mind. They aimed to not only prepare students for college acceptance with a rigorous curriculum that combined university courses with online high school, but also personalize the learning experience, giving every student the tools and support needed to be successful both in and out of the classroom. 

When students across the country were forced to finish out their spring semester virtually, ASU Prep Digital sprung into action and began the process of expanding its program to welcome elementary and middle school students in the fall. Families looking for stability after a rocky spring gravitated toward ASU Prep Digital, increasing their enrollment by almost 700 percent.

Introducing the Arizona Virtual Teacher Institute

Students aren’t the only ones learning to adapt to hybrid or remote learning environments. Teachers have also had to make the transition, which includes learning new tools to enhance their online classrooms and discovering ways to keep their students engaged through a screen.

Recognizing the need to support teachers across Arizona during this difficult time, Arizona State University, the Arizona Department of Education, the Helios Foundation, and Governor Doug Ducey’s office collaborated to bring the Arizona Virtual Teacher Institute to life. Managed by ASU Prep Digital, the Arizona Virtual Teacher Institute provides a flexible menu of training options for schools and teachers throughout the state, free of charge. With a range of topics and sessions, teachers can learn how to thrive and adapt to the ever-changing educational landscape through the pandemic and beyond. Visit their website to learn more and to see a calendar of the sessions.

Presenting at virtual conferences 

Though large gatherings have ceased for the time being, ASU Prep Digital has still found ways to share their experiences and expertise with educators all around the world. The annual ASU + GSV Summit was held virtually this year, making it even more accessible for those who may not have been able to attend in person. ASU Prep Digital hosted several sessions during the conference, speaking to their success in transforming K-12 education with the help of Arizona State University. You can learn more about this year’s event and register for the 2021 summit by visiting their website.

ASU will also be hosting REMOTE K12, the Connected Teacher Summit on January 9, 2021. This free, virtual event is designed to provide teachers with effective techniques, tools, and insights for online/blended learning while engaging with colleagues from all around the country. Teachers can even earn an ASU-certified Professional Development Credential by attending the event and filling out a post-show survey. Check out their website to learn more about the event and sessions that will be offered.

And this week, ASU Prep Digital is presenting at EdPalooza, a virtual conference hosted by ExcelinEd that aims to connect policymakers and educators in an effort to retool education. The three-day event will feature EdVision keynote speakers, EdTalks, and more than 100 Palooza sessions where attendees will be able to interact virtually and learn about the latest education trends, technology, and solutions. Visit their website to register and learn more about the event.

Looking to learn more about ASU Prep Digital’s growth and the future of education? Check out these posts:

Universities Report Online K-12 Enrollment Boost

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* This was originally written by Lindsay McKenzie and published on Inside Higher Ed 

Dissatisfied with the way local schools are responding to the pandemic, families increasingly turn to online K-12 options to educate their children — including schools run by universities.

Interest in online K-12 schools is surging in response to the educational disruption prompted by COVID-19.

At K12, the nation’s largest online charter school operator, enrollment increased from 123,000 to 170,000 students this year, according to reporting by Chalkbeat. At Connections Academy, another large online charter school company, applications have reportedly increased by 61 percent.

A similar picture is emerging in a more niche corner of the K-12 market — online schools run by universities.

At Arizona State University Prep Digital, an online public charter school run by the Tempe, Ariz.-based public university, student enrollment has grown by almost 700 percent — from 600 full-time students in 2019 to around 4,500 students this year.

This growth is partially explained by the fact that ASU Prep Digital welcomed its first classes of kindergartners through eighth graders this August — adding to the existing grades 9 to 12 launched in 2017. The COVID-19 pandemic nonetheless played a major role in driving interest in the school and is continuing to drive new inquiries from families in the state of Arizona and nationally.

“We are definitely hearing from families that the pandemic is a catalyst for our growth,” said Julie Young, chief executive officer at ASU Prep Digital. “Families went through a rocky spring. They are looking for stability.”

In the spring semester, many traditional K-12 schools switched to remote instruction without equipping teachers with the right training or tools, Young said. Since ASU Prep Digital was conceived as a fully online institution, some parents feel the school is “a less risky option” than waiting to see how the fall semester at their local school pans out.

While ASU Prep Digital is drawing students from schools that are grappling with the impact of the pandemic, its leaders are eager to share its online learning expertise with other institutions, Young said. ASU Prep Digital is actively providing training in online teaching and learning to public school teachers in Arizona and elsewhere.

The Arizona Virtual Teaching Institute, an initiative of ASU Prep Digital, provides free training to teachers with financial support from the Arizona Department of Education, the state’s governor’s office, Helios Education Foundation and ASU. The institute has so far helped 3,200 of the state’s 48,000 teachers prepare to offer remote or hybrid instruction, said Amy McGrath, chief operating officer at ASU Prep Digital.

By helping neighboring schools offer better online teaching and learning, including licensing content and offering remote instruction to schools where there are teacher shortages, ASU Prep Digital is helping to raise the profile of online education, McGrath said. Online K-12 has some bad actors with poor student outcomes, but high-tech, high-touch personalized learning is “something that should be an option for every student,” she said.

The rapid expansion of ASU Prep Digital — including both the launch of K-8 and additional students due to the pandemic — required “significant investment in staffing and infrastructure up front,” McGrath said.

“As a result, financial year 2021 surpluses will lag the first year of this expansion, but it will create opportunities to reinvest future surpluses to maintain growth trajectories,” McGrath said.

Part of the allure of studying at ASU Prep Digital for older students and families with ties to ASU is that students have access to college-level classes through concurrent enrollment at both the school and the university. That gives them the opportunity to test out so-called career pathways, earn credit and ultimately save money on college tuition, Young said.



What’s it Like to Attend Arizona’s Best Online High School?

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Arizona is home to many things: the Grand Canyon, the Arizona Cardinals, and Arizona’s best online high school—ASU Prep Digital.

Founded in 2017, ASU Prep Digital has quickly become Arizona’s best online high school, succeeding in bridging the gap between high school and college, equipping part-time and full-time students with the tools they need to earn their diploma, and helping them get on an accelerated path to university admission.

But Arizona’s best online high school does more than that.

ASU Prep Digital empowers students to take charge of their education in a number of ways:

  • Offering 40+ online high school and 200+ online university courses.
  • Giving students the freedom to work online, any time, from anywhere in the world.
  • Introducing adaptive learning technologies that personalize the self-paced coursework.
  • Promoting collaboration online with teachers and classmates using video, audio and text.

On top of being dedicated students, our community of learners are also athletes, creatives, musicians, and so much more.

Want a sneak peek into what it’s like to attend Arizona’s best online high school? Check out the day in the life of Olivia, an ASU Prep Digital junior who has found the perfect harmony between being a rockstar student and a talented violinist.

ASU Prep Digital: The Best Online High School in Arizona

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It’s no secret that ASU Prep Digital empowers students to take charge of their education and propels them toward university admission by introducing college courses in high school. But is it the best online high school in Arizona?

Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Concurrent Enrollment

Not only does ASU Prep Digital offer over 40 online high school courses, it also gives students access to over 200 university courses through Arizona State University—and they’re all available for concurrent high school/college credit. Each student works with his or her Learning Success Coach to design a personalized pathway to guide them through high school, into college, and on to a career. This accelerated track makes it possible for students to take college courses and earn credits that will count toward their major while still in high school, which saves them time and money when they enroll in college.

Curious about what concurrent enrollment is like? Check out these two student stories: Alexis and Caleb

Personalized Instruction

The best online high school in Arizona doesn’t just teach its students—it personalizes the instruction so that every student can succeed, recognizing that everyone learns differently. ASU Prep Digital also applies adaptive learning technologies, making it easy for students to move at their own pace and work at any time, from anywhere in the world. 

Interested in how courses work at ASU Prep Digital? Check out one of these course tours from the perspective of a student, teacher, or parent!

Layers of Support

ASU Prep Digital students are motivated, independent learners, but it doesn’t mean they won’t be supported on their journey. From their online teachers and university professors, to their Learning Success Coaches and families, students receive guidance whenever they need it. 

You can meet the staff here.

Student Performance

On top of being successful both in and out of the classroom, the community of learners at ASU Prep Digital outperform students at the other major online high schools in Arizona:

ASU Prep Digital proves that its commitment to providing an immersive, adaptive, and supportive learning experience pays off and helps students accelerate their education. 

But there are so many other components that make ASU Prep Digital the best online high school in Arizona, including: 

  • AdvancedEd accredited and NCAA approved.
  • Implementation of virtual reality and augmented reality lessons.
  • Collaboration with teachers and classmates using live lessons, video, audio, and text.
  • Plenty of opportunities for socialization, including virtual clubs and in-person meet ups.


Convinced yet? Begin the enrollment process here or schedule a call with an admissions advisor who will be more than happy to answer any questions.

High-Quality Online Programs Do Exist—and ASU Prep Digital is One of Them

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The Arizona Republic has painted a dire picture of virtual education — one riddled with fraud, academic failure, and moral corruption.  While there is truth to this unfortunate reality, the suggested solution of “an end to online charter schools” to remedy and prevent the outlined problems and concerns in the virtual education space does no justice to the proven success of high-quality online programs that do exist, and ASU’s digital high school platform, ASU Prep Digital, is one of those programs.

ASU Prep Digital, commissioned by the university in 2016 as a virtual extension of the established brick and mortar ASU Preparatory Academies, models a much different purpose than the profit-driven “flush with cash” online charter schools the article characterizes. ASU Prep Digital’s singular purpose is to be a fulfillment of the ASU Charter in the K-12 space.

With proven academic success in improving education outcomes[1], ASU Prep Digital operates with a fundamental responsibility to deliver best-in-class, equitable education across geography, income, race, and ethnicity. 

ASU’s committed drive to advance inclusivity and access, is changing the landscape of Arizona. This effort is centered around eliminating barriers to entry for students and affording every student access to world-class innovative curriculum and instruction.

ASU Prep Digital develops collaborative partnerships with districts that share in this call to action. For example, ASU Prep Digital serves students and offers solutions by filling teacher shortages, augmenting curriculum, and giving students the opportunity to get a jumpstart on college and career pathways into the university.

Omitting the existence of high-quality online programs creates a problematic lack of balance in this article for your readers. ASU has designed a digital high school that collaborates with schools around the state to provide educational opportunities that are resulting in improved educational outcomes for students. ASU Prep Digital is intensely focused on students, not school constructs.

Through ASU Prep Digital, students in Arizona, across the U.S. and around the world can benefit from unprecedented access to college pathways and all that the most innovative university in the nation has to offer to enable their success.



[1] Improved educational outcomes as demonstrated in AZM2 merit testing and ELA, Math, and Science Assessments.

Benefits of Concurrent Enrollment at ASU Prep Digital

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From developing time management skills to saving money on college tuition, concurrent enrollment helps students kickstart their college careers. 

But how is concurrent enrollment at ASU Prep Digital different than dual enrollment?

ASU Prep Digital embeds the university experience into high school, giving students an accelerated path toward university admission and future careers. You can see the differences between dual enrollment and the concurrent enrollment experience at ASU Prep Digital here, but let’s take an even closer look at some of the benefits of concurrent enrollment at ASU Prep Digital:

Earn college credit from ASU

When you enroll in a concurrent course at ASU Prep Digital, you’ll be earning credit from ASU, ranked #1 in the U.S. for innovation for the fifth year in a row and recognized as a Research I university.  You’ll be taught by real ASU professors, get access to ASU’s library of digital resources, and earn both high school and college credit, which will save you time and money once you get to college.

Receive layers of support

The transition to online learning can be challenging, especially if you plan on taking college level courses. It’s important to have a strong support system as you navigate through your courses. That’s why at ASU Prep Digital, you’ll receive support and guidance not only from your ASU professor, but also from your online teachers and Learning Success Coach.

Explore career pathways

It’s never too early to start thinking about a future major and how it could translate into a career someday. With the help of your Learning Success Coach, you’ll design a personalized pathway through high school, into college, and onto a career. You’ll be able to enroll in high school and college courses that align with your interests and work toward fulfilling requirements for your college major.


Ready to join our community of learners? Here are the full-time deadlines for the spring semester:

  • Enroll by January 6 for a January 27 start date
  • Enroll by January 20 for a February 5 start date*
  • Enroll by February 3 for a February 24 start date*
  • Enroll by March 2 for a March 23 start date*

*These start dates are compressed semesters, meaning you will be completing 5 or fewer classes in a shorter amount of time. 


And if you’re interested in enjoying the benefits of concurrent enrollment, please see the enrollment deadlines below:

  • Enroll by January 3 for a January 13 start date (half semester)
  • Enroll by January 3 for a January 13 start date (full semester)
  • Enroll by March 3 for a March 16 start date (full semester)

We also accept part-time applications on a rolling basis. You can get started here. And if you’d like to learn more about our program or inquire about enrollment, please schedule a call with an admissions advisor.



Why Are Half of Arizona High School Graduates Not Attending College?

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Every year, the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) releases a report on college enrollment and completion based on current enrollment data. In 2017, Arizona had a total of 71,337 students graduate from its public high schools. However, nearly half of them, 33,812, did not go on to enroll in a two or four-year college.


Every student deserves the chance to attend college and realize their dreams despite their socioeconomic status. Not only do college educated individuals contribute more to society by voting in elections and volunteering in their communities, but they also have a higher quality of life. This includes increased job opportunities and higher salaries.

At ASU Prep Digital, we are determined to put students on an accelerated path toward university admission and careers of the future, and are committed to providing them with the tools they need to unlock their full potential. That’s why we offer full-time Arizona high school students the opportunity to take college courses through Arizona State University for free, and part-time students have the opportunity to take college courses at a discounted rate.

We understand that many students do not willingly choose to not continue their education.

According to the ABOR College Enrollment and Completion Report, “poverty is a leading indicator of reduced educational achievement and poverty rates in Arizona are among the nation’s highest.” Arizona ranks 12th in the country for individuals who fall below the federal poverty line, with nearly a quarter of all children in Arizona falling below the line.*

It’s no secret that college can be costly, and with the added obstacle of poverty, the idea of college feels more like a dream than a reality for students who are graduating high school and figuring out what to do next. We are ready to provide all Arizona high school students with the opportunity to attend college and create fulfilling lives beyond the classroom.

Discover how your child can get a head start today.


*According to the 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates.