The Benefits of Online High School

5 min to read
A high school student listening to headphones and smiling

The truth is, not all students are able to reach their full potential in traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Inflexible schedules, classroom distractions, and a one-size-fits-all curriculum can quickly become hurdles that can hold students back. 

If your student, like many, found themselves thriving in a virtual school environment during the pandemic and are interested in the benefits of going back to school online, they’re not alone. Check out some of the reasons why these students made the switch to an online public school through Connections Academy®:

Work at Your Own Pace

Justice Haam, 15, and his two younger sisters started with Minnesota Connections Academy during the COVID-19 pandemic, and he quickly realized that online school is the ideal environment for his needs and goals. 

“The flexibility is really important to me,” Justice explained. "I work at a faster pace than some other people.” 

Since Connections Academy allows him to work at his own pace, Justice is able to complete his daily schoolwork in about half the time that he’d spend in classes at the traditional school he was enrolled in before the pandemic. 

“That leaves me with a lot of free time, and with that free time, I usually work on this five-year course I’m in called ‘UMTYMP,’ which stands for University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathemetics Program.”   

Jill Greendeer, Justice’s mother and Learning Coach, emphasized her appreciation for how much Connections Academy embraces college preparation, including the opportunities for students to take college-level courses. 

“I’ve really seen Justice come into his own, mature, and be empowered to take charge of his education,” Greendeer said.  

Whether students absorb material easily or need a bit of extra practice and support in a particular subject, online high school allows them to work at the speed that is most natural for them.

Enjoy a more flexible schedule.

High school students who opt for online education can design their own schedules to best fit their needs. While some virtual high schools require students to be online at specific times for live lessons, they are free to complete the majority of their coursework and assignments at their convenience.

As a result of this flexibility, students have more time to: 

  • Explore careers by shadowing or working as an intern for professionals in their field of interest
  • Focus on becoming or remaining an elite athlete
  • Attend or recover from important medical treatments 
  • Volunteer within the community
  • Take early college courses or begin pursuing a trade certification

Early graduation.

Students who tend to work at an accelerated speed or whose ambitions require them to attend many more years of school, such as pursuing medical or law school, may be interested in graduating early. Online high schools make the process of doing so much smoother with self-paced courses, summer courses, and individualized support.

A high schooler enjoying online school benefits such as working at your own pace.

Customized Workspace

Teens who attend virtual high school can ditch the hard plastic chairs, tight rows of desks that leave little room for personal space, and the harsh fluorescent lighting common in traditional high schools. Instead, they can create a more comfortable, naturally lit learning space of their own design.

Fewer Distractions

Going back to school online makes it easier for students to focus on their studies by minimizing distractions characteristic of in-person education, such as:

  • Social Distractions
    For some teens, the social dynamics of conventional high schools are too distracting for optimal learning. As an online high school student, teens don’t have to worry about who they’ll sit with at lunch, or if they’ll encounter a bully on the way to their next class, or if one of the other students is disruptive. 
  • Sensory Overload
    Online high school students generally have more freedom and privacy. This means you can choose when you eat lunch, take a restroom break, or simply get up and walk around.
  • Classroom Limitations
    Students in an online high school can focus more by approaching their learning in whatever way suits them best. For example, one student may take their laptop outside on a nice day to listen to a lesson while spinning a fidget spinner to keep their hands busy. Others, on the other hand, may prefer to find a quiet spot in the library or place in a home office.

Sarah Hodsdon, the mother of a student at Michigan Connections Academy, shared that the limited distractions were one of the primary reasons switching to online learning was a “no-brainer” for her family. 

“Although the class sizes are comparable to those at a traditional school, your child gets undivided attention from his or her teacher,” she said. “No flying paper airplanes, fights to break up, screaming distractions from other children in the classroom—just one-on-one, undivided interaction.”

 An online student at his desk to go back to school online

Safe Learning Environment

Online schools tend to offer safe environments with strong inclusivity. This type of culture, coupled with a digital setting, creates an educational space where students are less likely to be bullied or pressured by peers and are given their best chance to succeed.

Beau, a former Arizona Connections Academy student, found that online high school was a great solution for him after he became a victim of bullying as a new student in his area. Going to school in a safe, online environment helped Beau improve his grades and repair his self-confidence. 

While no academic setting is perfect, online school essentially removes problems like bullying from the equation, so even students who may have bullied others have no reason to. Of course, students have many opportunities to talk with their peers, both virtually and in person, during their academic career. However, they do not have to interact routinely with students who are deliberately unkind.

Instead of dreading the return from semi-annual breaks, students who are educated in this type of atmosphere may find themselves asking, “when am I going back to school?”

Learn more about succeeding in online high school in our article, “5 Keys to High School Success.”

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