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Preparing Students for Jobs That Don't Exist Yet

By: Beth Werrell
Preparing Online Students for Jobs of the Future

"We are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist … using technologies that haven't been invented … in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet."—Richard Riley, former Secretary of Education

Data scientist. Digital artist. App developer. Virtual assistant. Blogger.

What do they have in common? They're all jobs that didn't exist 20 years ago.

According to a 2016 report by the World Economic Forum, "By one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don't yet exist." Even "old" jobs will look radically different in workplaces transformed by technology, changing demographics, and globalization.

So how do we prepare students for jobs and workplaces that don't exist yet? Here are a few thoughts gathered from teachers at Connections Academy®—supported schools. After all, they are pioneers in online education, a field that itself didn't exist 20 years ago.

Three Essential Skills

We can't predict exactly what the new jobs will be, but from various economic experts, we do know the skills that will be needed. As educators, we also know how student-centered online schools are helping to develop those skills.

Complex Problem Solving: In the industrial age of the early 20th century, employers needed workers who could simply show up on time and follow instructions. Reflecting those needs, our public education system emphasized "seat time," rote memorization, and basic skills development. But in the information age of the 21st century, employers ...

4 Ways to Prepare for College in Online School

By: Stephanie Osorno
College Prep for Online School Students

College may be years away for some students, but that doesn’t mean the prep work can’t begin now! Like many bricks-and-and mortar schools, high-quality virtual schools offer students many opportunities to get a head start on college requirements and courses by earning college credits, learning more about future options, and getting organized beforehand.

Preparing for college ahead of time can relieve stress and worry while accelerating college graduation and career goals. Here are a few ways that virtual school students can start gearing up for college—and how attending virtual school has benefited current and former students of Connections Academy®—supported schools.

  1. Advanced Placement and honors courses
  2. Enrolling in an Advanced Placement (AP®*) or honors course is a great way to prepare for the pace and demands of college courses. It’s a good opportunity for students to challenge themselves academically while learning to be more diligent and self-disciplined at the same time. Taking advanced coursework also enhances a student’s transcript—an important strategy for making a favorable impression on college admissions committees.

    In addition, an AP course prepares a student for the national AP exam. High scores on these tests could enable students to earn college credit or placement in advanced classes, depending on the individual college’s policies. Even though the workload may be heavier, students will know that their hard work has paid off when they receive an acceptance letter from their favorite college or can check off a course from their college requirements before starting their ...

4 Things to Remember When Choosing a Career

By: Penny Reeves
Researching the Right Career Options

Choosing a career is one of the most exciting decisions a student makes—but making a suitable choice requires ample thought, research, and preparation. A career often becomes a major part of a person's life, so it's important for students to choose something that they truly enjoy and are passionate about. Working adults generally spend about 20 percent of their lives at work!

With your help and guidance, students can pursue a career that is the ideal fit for them. If your student is beginning to consider and research career options, below are a few things for him or her to keep in mind along the way—so make sure to pass this post along!

Get to know yourself well

As a student who is getting ready to reach adulthood, you probably have a pretty good idea of who you are already, but try digging a little deeper! Determining what your likes and dislikes are will help you get closer to an enjoyable career path—and you might be surprised by what you find. Even though it may sound odd, taking a moment to have a "conversation" with yourself can really help you to attain clarity and understanding for your future. Here are some questions that you can ask yourself:

  • What do I like to do?
  • What am I good at doing?
  • In what sort of setting would I like to work?
  • What or whom do I want to work with?
  • Do I want to be very involved in my career, or do ...

Getting Ready for College: A Guide for High Schoolers

By: Beth Werrell

The online middle school and high school experience can prepare students for many of the challenges of college. Entering college with certain study and life-management skills will help you tackle challenges head-on, so you can make the most of the college experience. Consider the tips below for getting ready for the admission process and sharpening your skills!

Portfolio Preparation

One thing you can do now to help ensure you are admitted to the college of your dreams is to build a college portfolio. Begin by exploring your interests and getting involved in your school and community. Be sure to document your participation and accomplishments. These activities and the process of building a college portfolio may even help you decide on a college major. Follow our step-by-step guide, and when it's time to apply for your dream college, your college portfolio will help you show admissions officers how you stand out from the crowd.


Being organized doesn't just mean your work space is tidy. Organization can also mean keeping up with your computer maintenance, organizing your file names, and otherwise always knowing where to find your class materials, resources, and more. Developing an organizational system for your notes, assignments, and more will come in handy when you are expected to be independent in college.

Time Management

Are you an early bird, a multitasker, a helper? Identifying your time management style early on will help you determine how you should schedule your ...

The Role of Success Coaches and Blended Learning in Boosting Learning Independence

By: Beth Werrell

Today's post by Charles Carver, Principal, Nexus Academy of Lansing, first appeared on GettingSmart.com.

Role of Success Coaches in Blended Learning

The personalized learning movement is profoundly changing the landscape of education. In all corners of the country and countless places in between, we are seeing blended learning schools open up in larger numbers each year. The value of high quality academic content delivered in a very 21st century and digital way combined with guided support and help from face to face teachers and academic coaches is resonating in schools and also at the dining room table.

At Nexus Academy, we employ a very special group of staff members known as Success Coaches. Our Success Coaches are certified teachers who work with their students every single day, but are not delivering any one content specialty. They are:

  • guiding discussion
  • overseeing academic research
  • providing daily college and career readiness activities
  • acting as each student’s go to mentor and advocate

The Success Coaches and their students spend significant amounts of time on soft skills, such as:

  • resume building
  • time management
  • decision making activities
  • skills they will need sharpened as they prepare to enter college and the workforce

The student and Success Coach relationship is the bedrock of a Nexus Academy education. They are creating GenDIY learners and adults through their daily interactions and support. Students who have graduated from our school come back and tell us that due to the nature of our school and model, they are faring very well in the college setting at ...

8 Ways to Help Students Transition to Blended School

By: Beth Werrell
Make an Easy Transition to a Blended Learning School

Traditionally, back-to-school preparation means buying new shoes and stocking up on spiral-bound notebooks. For families who are switching to a blended learning school, which combines face-to-face teaching and online learning, the steps may be a bit different, but parent involvement is just as essential. Check out the hints below to learn what you can do to help your student make a smooth transition to blended school.

  1. Get Oriented
    Most schools start the year with orientation sessions. For completely online schools, this may be done using the Internet, but for a blended school, there is likely to be an in-person orientation on campus. Attending this meeting will give you the opportunity to tour the school and get answers to any remaining questions you have about the school and its programs. Orientation also enables you to meet the people who will be working directly with your student. At Nexus Academy schools, for example, this includes teachers, school counselors, administrators, and Success Coaches, who guide students as they set and achieve goals—and help keep them on track for graduation.

  2. Set an Appointment
    If you have concerns about your student's needs, consider contacting the school to set an appointment for a conference early in the school year. This will give you a chance to discuss your student's learning style, course schedule, strengths, weaknesses, interests, and other traits. This information can help school staff personalize the program to support your child's learning effectively.

  3. Familiarize Yourself with the ...

7 Computer Skills to Master by High School

By: Beth Werrell
Computer Skills for High School Success

Computers are everywhere today, so it's normal for children to develop computer skills quickly and early on. By virtual elementary school, kids are figuring out how to use a mouse and navigate the keyboard.

As your child grows and his or her knowledge of technology expands, there are certain things that he or she needs to learn for school. Knowing how to cite online sources in a paper and create a chart in Microsoft Excel are just a few examples.

To make sure your child is equipped with the right skills, take a look at the list below. You’ll find the seven computer skills your child should master by the time he or she starts virtual high school.

  1. Typing
    Using a keyboard is one of the first computer skills a young child develops. By middle school, children should be able to type proficiently with two hands. To make typing even easier, have your child practice his or her typing skills with apps like Type-Fu.

  2. Digital communication
    Computers offer many different communication channels, such as email, chat, and social media posts. To use these channels correctly, your child needs to understand how messages should change depending on the context. For example, it’s fine to use emoticons and poor punctuation in an email to a friend, but an email cover letter to an employer must be formal and precise.

  3. Online etiquette and safety
    Another lesson that children learn early on is how to use the computer appropriately. You ...

Parent Involvement in Blended Learning High School

By: Beth Werrell
parent and blended learning students working together

When neither a traditional nor fully online education is the right fit for a student, some families opt for blended learning at the high school level. For the student, blended learning offers the best of online learning and face-to-face instruction, as well as opportunities to socialize and collaborate with their peers. What surprises many families is that parents also benefit from the change, because blended learning provides many ways to become more involved in their child’s education.

An Emphasis on Accountability

At blended high schools such as Nexus Academy, students attend school in person four half-days per week, either in the morning or afternoon. The rest of the time, they work independently at home. In addition to making sure their student has reliable transportation and attends school regularly, it’s important for parents to hold their blended learning students accountable for focusing on their studies during those at-home hours.

Parents need to let their students know that they will also be held accountable for completing assignments on time and maintaining acceptable grades. Naturally, these reminders should be delivered with a healthy dose of encouragement!

Know Your Student’s Studies

Because the curriculum in a blended learning school is digital, parents have easy access to their student’s learning materials 24/7. They can easily keep tabs on what a student is learning, and in the unlikely event that a teenager should admit that he or she needs help, the online texts are available for reference. A teacher’s lessons from the online classroom may ...

26 Practical Tips for High School Graduates

By: Tisha Rinker
26 tips for high school graduates

Congratulations! You’ve officially graduated from online high school, equipped with plenty of knowledge and a diverse skill set.

Now what?

How do your plans look for the summer, the rest of the year, or the next five years? Based on your specific interests and goals, you might be getting ready for college, starting an apprenticeship, joining the armed forces, or going on vacation. The options are endless!

As you jump into adulthood, we want you to know that you have everything within you to create a happy, fulfilling, meaningful life. And before you set off in pursuit of your dreams we’d like you to consider a few of these practical tips for high school graduates. They might provide you with some good reminders or inspiration for your future after high school.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
  1. Take calculated risks. Overcoming your fears and trying new things, even if it means making mistakes, is important for your personal growth.
  2. Don’t act impulsively. Always consider the consequences of your actions.
  3. Go out of your way to visit new places, meet people, and test out various hobbies. You never know when you’ll stumble across something you really love.
  4. Look forward to the future, but enjoy the present.
  5. Join an online or local club, activity, group, or team.
  6. Build new friendships, but still make time to stay in touch with old friends.
  7. Take lots of pictures and start keeping a diary. It helps preserve your memories, reflect, and gain perspective. Without ...

Inspire Your High School Graduate with Our Quotes Graphic

By: Beth Werrell

Do you have any advice for your high school graduate? Now that he or she is ready to take the next step, it’s time to pass on any wisdom you want to share.

Our quotes graphic for high school graduates offers a variety of insights about facing the future, doing what you love, and staying true to yourself.

Click on the image below to see the full graphic.

What would your high school graduate say if he or she had to give a graduation speech? Instead of asking your graduate to compose the speech from scratch, inspire him or her to assemble a speech out of famous quotes.

Besides getting your graduate to think about the future, this activity will exercise his or her ability to organize ideas in writing and make them flow. Your graduate can also cite the sources of the quotes using footnotes or another academic writing style, which will be helpful if he or she plans to attend college.

Take a look at this example speech made entirely out of quotes, many of which are found in the graduation quotes graphic.

There is a reason they call these ceremonies “commencement exercises.” Graduation is not the end, it’s the beginning.1 The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse.2 Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom.3

Every [person] is the architect of his [or her] own ...

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