Each year, high school students take another step toward graduation. At this stage, their focus is likely how life will look after they receive their diploma. Will they be heading to college, choosing a trade, joining the military or entering the workforce? Many teens are at the same crossroads, pondering their future.
As a parent, you’re probably wondering what you can do to help. Since post-school plans aren’t linear, there’s no doubt that the transition from youth to adulthood will present changes and opportunities to grow—and thankfully, online school can help prepare students for success in unique and meaningful ways. Let’s take a look at three ways online school can help prepare your high schooler for the future.
1. Online School Builds Lifelong Skills
For almost any life path your student chooses, a set of foundational skills will be essential to meeting the demands of their occupation. Studies have shown that life skill education enhances youth’s critical thinking, level of responsibility, and how well they plan for the future. In online school, students get a head start on building diverse abilities that are sure to make life a little easier.
Time Management Skills
Time management is possibly one of the most important skills your teen can learn. It’s essential to their academic career and as they step into the workforce. If your child attends online school, there’s an opportunity for them to learn time management during daily instruction. You can implement student planners, which are a great tool to keep high schoolers on track and focused on their work. As students gain time management skills, Connections Academy’s curriculum encourages them to learn to juggle different projects and establish a schedule that fits their needs.
Through Pearson Online Classroom, Connections Academy students have access to built-in planners. The student planner serves as a calendar for the current school year, containing a schedule of a student's daily and weekly lessons. In addition to their tasks and assignments, students, caretakers, and Learning Coaches can also add personal events like sports practices and after-school activities to help keep them organized. Each household has a planner as well. The household planner can be used to add school events and family commitments such as vacations. As students track how many hours are spent on various tasks, they can ensure they’re distributing their time effectively throughout the day.
It’s no secret that most facets of life now require basic technical skills. Every day, people use technology to write papers, complete presentation decks, and operate machinery. Gen Z, which includes high schoolers, is made up of digital natives. Luckily, for online students, technology is ingrained into every aspect of their instruction. While attending virtual school, students have access to a variety of platforms where they learn to navigate different programs and build digital literacy. For example, our students use the Pearson Online Classroom to access their assignments and class schedule and may use virtual whiteboards, discussion forums, interactive notebooks, surveys, and videos in their lessons.
Connections Academy students are also encouraged to build literacy in the classroom. During instruction, students are guided through compelling video and audio to help them better understand concepts. Let’s take a look at some of the virtual elements students might see in this sample lesson plan in online high school.
Whether accessing biology assignments or collaborating with peers through video and audio chat—teachers encourage students to strengthen technical skills. By allowing high schoolers to utilize different tools in the classroom, they can gain expertise, adapt quickly, and use their practical skills learned in this lesson plan example for high school students for years to come.
21st Century Skills
The knowledge that teens need to thrive after high school doesn’t always have to be taught through traditional instruction. For example, 21st century skills are acquired through real-world experience. These skills, developed to help students succeed in work and life, are broken into three categories: learning and innovation; life and career; and information, media & technology. The learning and innovation category teaches students about the mental processes required to adapt to the modern work environment. Life and career focuses on personal, professional, and leadership qualities. And, information, media & technology hones in on digital comprehension and data literacy. When each of these skills are weaved into instruction, students are more engaged in the learning process and graduate prepared to succeed in today’s world.
For instance, through activities like virtual clubs and field trips, students strengthen their communication with their peers—developing creativity, collaboration, and leadership. School projects are also a method some teachers might use to encourage teamwork among students which helps them think critically and use innovation.
2. Online School Helps Students Develop Lifelong Passions
As an adult, without passion for your work, you are less likely to engage in continued learning and creative problem solving. The same can be said for high schoolers. The less interested they feel in their schoolwork, the less likely they are to want to learn. That’s why it’s important to incorporate courses and extracurriculars that help students discover what they love now so they can thrive in the future.
Electives are vital pieces of the curriculum that allow students to get an early start on career building. They reveal students’ skill sets and help them recognize their strengths. In online school, teens have access to numerous elective courses that are specific to their interests.
At Connections Academy, we go beyond the state requirement to help students develop lifelong passions. In addition to our inclusive set of core courses, high schoolers can take subjects such as foreign languages, digital technology, journalism, or art history. With a variety of subject areas to choose from, students can use electives to help narrow down what they want their major to be in college or even what jobs they are interested in once they transition out of virtual high school.
Competitive programs like Advanced PlacementⓇ(AP) courses and dual-enrollment come with multiple benefits. AP classes provide students the opportunity to save money by earning college credits and prepare for the challenge of college coursework with a more rigorous level of study. Though particularly beneficial for college-bound seniors, honors/AP courses are available to any ambitious student who wishes to excel in a specific subject.
We have partnerships with global universities where some high schoolers can enroll in college courses, simultaneously earning high school and college credit. We also provide college application, tuition, financial aid, and scholarship workshops. Additionally, high schoolers have free access to college entrance exam preparation—an advantage to ease a typically stressful process.
With classes, homework, and the future looming, high school is an extremely busy time. As students get closer to senior year, there may seem like there isn’t any time left to do the things they enjoy. However, if they have a few extra hours to spare during the week, extracurricular activities such as joining a club will be well worth it. Academic clubs support students’ character development by giving them skills required for personal success.
Recent studies show that anxiety and depression are a major problem for 70% of teens. After-school activities can help cope with the pressure that comes along with future planning. Online schools like Connections Academy offer a variety of clubs such as Career Club and Debate Club that encourage high schoolers to broaden their skills, gain leadership experience, and meet new people. Plus, having a positive outlet can assist with stress management later in life.
3. Online School Establishes Independence
For teens, learning to be independent is extremely important. Soon, they’ll be venturing into uncharted territory and making many decisions on their own. Teaching them practices that help them build independence are essential to excelling later in life.
Student accountability can be nurtured by creating an environment that promotes support, respect, and trust. For high schoolers, it’s important to help them build a foundation of accountability that continues to grow after graduation. With online school, students quickly learn to take responsibility for their academic career. When Connections Academy high school students are assigned a project, they’re responsible for taking initiative to complete the task. Much like the real world, they don’t have a teacher or authority figure leaning over their shoulder throughout the day. With no set class time dedicated to finishing work, students learn to be responsible for meeting deadlines, whether it be turning in an essay for high school English lessons or studying to prepare for an exam.
When students learn to adapt, they can thrive in almost any setting. Due to the flexibility of virtual school, online students are at an advantage in developing this trait. Because they learn at their own pace, Connections Academy high schoolers master adjusting their daily schedules, extracurricular obligations, and family responsibilities to fit around their education. Let’s say a student has regular medical appointments or weekly commitments. They can adapt their learning path to work in flexible time. With the support of our teachers and you as their Learning Coach, students learn to work around challenges, find solutions, and think critically.
Failure is inevitable, but isn’t always a welcome concept. Although necessary to learning, students might view it as an imperfection. In high school, it’s important to embrace all shortcomings because failure is merely an opportunity for students to receive feedback on their strengths and recognize areas for improvement.
For instance, if your high schooler gets a low grade on an assignment, they can always ask for help. Connections Academy offers tutoring programs to ensure students learn in a way that best suits them. With this approach, online students learn what it means to overcome an obstacle and craft a new plan moving forward. This is particularly important for college and the professional world where constructive criticism is prevalent.
Online school offers so much more than flexibility. It helps high schoolers prepare for their future—no matter what they decide to do, and equips them with the skills they need to succeed. To learn more about the benefits of virtual school, read about how online school can help struggling teens.