How Does Online High School Work?
If you are thinking of making the jump to cyber school, you are probably feeling a mixture of excitement, confusion, and anticipation. What if it isn’t the right fit for you? How will you communicate with the teacher? Will you meet other students?
And the big question is ‘How does online high school work?’ Will you have a schedule? Do you have to go to class? How will they know if you are ‘in’ school? How will you submit your assignments? How do you get help if you have a question? These are all valid questions since cyber schooling is a relatively new concept. Cyber schools take the concepts that work in your traditional district school and add tweaks to meet the unique needs of students. You will find that the flexibility of cyber schools will allow you to live your life while at the same time earning a top-notch high school education.
Let’s take a look at answers to those questions.
You will have a daily routine.
Students enrolled in an online high school have a daily schedule and routine just like students enrolled in a traditional high school. The school assigns each student a unique daily schedule based on the classes students choose or are eligible to take. Teachers hold live classes and students have a scheduled time for lunch and set breaks throughout the school day. Most teachers also schedule weekly office hours to meet with students (and parents) one-on-one.
You might go to a live class...
Online schooling allows more flexibility within the school day. There are various ways in which students attend class.
If you are in a synchronous class, you will log into the teacher’s online classroom where the teacher will deliver a lesson, facilitate group work, and provide guided activities and assessment. Class is planned and led by the teacher but is surprisingly interactive.
One myth about online schooling is that there is no interaction between students and teachers or between students and their classmates. Teachers give students the opportunity to:
- Write on the class whiteboard (see photo example below)
- Chat with the teacher and other students
- Use the webcam
- Use the microphone
- Work in small groups
Students and parents often state that they are amazed at how much more communication occurs between teachers, students, and parents in a cyber school versus the traditional high school. Synchronous classes work well for families looking for a highly structured school day.
Want to see an example of a live class? You can view a recording of a synchronous online high school class here.
...Or you might not have to go to class.
If you are in an asynchronous class, you will not log into a live class each day, but will still be supported by a certified teacher. Your teacher will post daily plans for you to follow. You will complete lessons and assessments online as directed by the teacher. Many teachers post assignments ahead of time so that you have the ability to work ahead if you desire. The lesson plans include resources to help you, and include videos, helpful websites, and animations. Asynchronous teachers are available throughout the day and in weekly office hours to work with you one-on-one. Asynchronous classes work well for students that have many doctor appointments or are involved in activities such as sports or dance that keep them ‘on the go’ for several hours each day.
The school tracks your attendance.
Your cyber school will track your daily attendance and class attendance in accordance with state law. Parents or the designated adult at home are notified when students are absent or miss a class.
If you are absent from class, your parent (or Learning Coach) will notify the teacher or other personnel designated by the school. Contact the school for a list of excusable absences.
Almost all of your assignments will be completed online.
Virtual schools use online school platforms where you will complete your lessons. Students are provided with a unique login to access daily lessons. When you log into the online school, you can review your schedule for the day and complete all of the lessons. Lessons and assessments may be located in other secure places such as Google Drive or Study Island. At PA Virtual, certified teachers facilitate all classes. Teachers maintain an updated course site with links to class and instructions for all assignments.
You will have a teacher to help you when you get stuck.
Teachers are available through email, phone, and designated office hours during the school day. Most cyber school teachers are unavailable during scheduled days off, holidays, and weekends. Teachers are available before, during, and after class to work with students. Teachers provide help to students one-on-one during class and office hours, by email, by phone, through Google Drive, and with the use of video.
For example, if a student has a question about a math problem, that student will email the teacher if they don’t want to wait until class. The teacher could make a video to demonstrate to the student how to solve the problem. If the question does not require a video, the teacher will simply reply to the email with the answer to the question posed. If a student is working in a shared Google doc, the teacher and student can communicate through the document.
You can take AP courses in an online high school.
High-achieving students often explore cyber schools in an effort to find a curriculum that challenges them. By the time you reach 11th and 12th grade, you probably already have at least a general idea of which career path you wish to pursue. PA Virtual and some other cyber schools offer a variety of AP courses to support your career choice.
AP courses are integrated into the student’s schedule. If the course involves a lab, labs will be completed both online and in the student’s home. AP courses can be challenging but are offered to support student career choices and interests.
To see PA Virtual Charter School’s High School Course Catalog, please click here.
Graduation requirements are the same as other public schools.
If the online school is a public school, graduation requirements are the same as the requirements in a traditional school. Each school may have additional graduation requirements, so be sure to talk to the cyber school when doing your research.
By taking the concepts that work in a brick-and-mortar school and adding flexibility, cyber schools meet the unique needs of students. High school students and their families experience many advantages from attending a cyber charter school including increased flexibility, an individualized education, the opportunity to graduate early, and more. PA Virtual offers an opportunity to get to know the school through an orientation before making a commitment. Log on today and begin your adventure.
You can learn more about our online high school program here or to learn more about how cyber charter schools work, check out the Ultimate Guide to Attending a Cyber Charter School in PA.
This guide will help you weigh the pros and cons of cyber charter schools and help you decide whether the cyber model might be a good fit for you. This guide show examples of curriculum, and includes an extensive comparison of all cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania, and much more.
PA Virtual is still enrolling new students for the 2019-2020 school year.