Traditional vs. Online Public High School

Are you thinking of switching from a traditional school to an online school? Understanding the similarities and differences between the two will be helpful in your decision-making process.

Parents and students most likely have a lot of questions when considering transitioning to an online learning environment – not the least of which is how different is a virtual school from a brick-and-mortar academic institution? Asking these questions is important and a good place to start when deliberating your options. It’s essential to compare the differences and similarities between traditional schooling versus online learning in order to help you make an educated decision.

Similarities Between Traditional and Online Public High Schools

  • Cost – Many parents will be pleasantly surprised to learn that just like brick-and-mortar public high schools, many respectable virtual schools are tuition free. There are, of course, many for-profit online learning institutions, but you have a variety of options to choose from that don’t entail expensive fees.
  • Accreditation – While it is true that there are diploma mills looking to prey on unsuspecting families, there are numerous online public high schools that are accredited by reputable accrediting agencies as recognized by the United States Department of Education. Earning an online high school diploma from an accredited school means that your child’s education will be recognized by potential colleges and universities, as well as employers.
  • Student Performance Standards – Students who go to online schools are held to the same academic standards as those attending traditional public schools. In fact, students from virtual schools often perform at or above average on standardized tests.
  • Qualified Instructors – Many distinguished online schools employ highly qualified instructors who are reachable via email, forums and instant messaging software, such as Skype.
  • Academic Counselors – Reputable online high schools have Academic Counselors who work with families to ensure that students take the proper courses, designing a plan that will help students stay on track and graduate.
Traditional vs. Online Public High School

Differences Between Traditional and Online Public High Schools

  • Location – Students enrolled in online schools can attend their classes from wherever and whenever they choose as long as they have a reliable computer and Internet connection. Students at brick-and-mortar schools must attend their classes in person at the same location and time every day.
  • Pace – Traditional schools typically require students to strictly adhere to the pre-determined academic calendar, whereas online schools allow for more flexibility. Students enrolled in online schools can work at their own pace to meet their academic and personal needs depending on what works best for them. They can make time for jobs, engage in sports, travel, and volunteer for causes, among other things.
  • Programs Offered – Virtual schools offer a plethora of courses ranging from standard curriculum, honors and AP courses, and even special education programs. Students in an online learning environment are provided access to a wider range of curricula, unlike students in traditional public schools who must choose from prearranged schedules and programs.

While not applicable for all online public high schools, there are quite a number of virtual academic institutions that offer student clubs, in-person school events, and even proms and graduation ceremony for students.

Looking at these comparisons, it is easy to see how very similar traditional and online schools are – and yet how much they also differ. At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide how best to earn a high school diploma depending on your needs.

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