What is a Good Alternative for High School?
A good high school education is critical for young adults whether they plan to enter the workforce, join the military, or enroll in a college or university. Whatever your child's post-secondary plans, a high-quality high school education lays the foundation of developing the skills necessary to succeed post-graduation. The local district high school is not the perfect learning environment for every student. Some students require a different option. This blog will explore the benefits of cyber charter schools and why they might be a good fit for your child.
What is a Cyber Charter School?
Firstly, cyber charter schools are public schools and students are taught by state-certified teachers primarily through online instruction. Because they are public schools and therefore funded by taxpayer dollars, there is no tuition for students to enroll and attend. Additionally, students receive all necessary technology and curricular materials to be successful in the virtual learning model.
Cyber school students receive a high school diploma upon completion of all graduation requirements, just like at your local district school. Many cyber students attend college after graduation and receive scholarship money to help fund their education. At PA Virtual, the Class of 2020 was offered $1.2 Million total in scholarships!
The Learning Environment
Because a cyber school student goes to school from their home, the parent or guardian is in full control of the learning environment. Many parents appreciate this because they get to see exactly what their student is learning each day and can be very involved in their child’s educational journey. They can also create the learning space along with the student, making it an optimal set up for learning and free from distractions that are often found in brick and mortar settings.
Beyond that, schooling from home eliminates the commute time to and from a school building. Time that might have been spent in the car or bus before can now be used for learning or other productive tasks.
Cyber School Scheduling Options
Many cyber schools in PA have different options for instruction. At PA Virtual, we offer two modes of instruction: synchronous and asynchronous.
In the synchronous model, students attend live, online classes at a scheduled time with the instruction led by our state-certified teachers. This path certainly provides more structure to the student’s day and students in these classes benefit from real-time instruction. Students can receive direct feedback from their teachers and ask questions during the class as necessary.
In the asynchronous model, students work in an independent manner on a customized schedule with the guidance and support of a state-certified teacher. This option provides students more flexibility in their day because they do not have to attend a live class at a specific time but rather complete their schoolwork at their own pace and at a time that works best for their schedule. Students in asynchronous classes still have access to their teacher via office hours and email communications whenever they need to touch base.
Some families may choose asynchronous instruction because it gives students an opportunity to attend medical appointments or a sports practice during the day. Others may choose it to allow students to work ahead in certain subjects. Whatever the reason may be, asynchronous courses can offer motivated students more flexibility in their school day.
Every Student is Unique
Education is not a “one-size-fits-all” scenario. Each student has unique strengths and needs, and cyber charter schools can provide the individualized instruction to meet students where they are and provide them the resources they need to thrive.
For students that may be struggling with a particular subject or subjects, there are supports in place like academic support teachers, tutoring, and office hours. Additionally, if a student is determined to be eligible for special education, they will be provided with the services and support they need by the special education staff.
For students that need more of a challenge, cyber schools offer enrichment opportunities for these learners. Most cyber schools offer honors and Advanced Placement courses. To view all of the high school courses offered at PA Virtual, check out our course catalog. Also, some cyber schools offer an opportunity for early graduation. To learn more about how early graduation works, check out our blog post, “How to Graduate High School Early.”
Cyber High School Graduates Succeed
Attending cyber high school allows students to learn valuable lessons in organization, time management, and accountability. Students understand the importance of staying on track with their schoolwork and taking responsibility for their education. They also become comfortable with using technology and online learning tools, which is beneficial in a world where technology is constantly evolving. These skills help prepare cyber school students for their post-graduation plans, whether it be college, trade school, the military, or the workforce.
Just like at a brick and mortar school, cyber school students have guidance counselors who provide them with ongoing support for post-secondary planning. PA Virtual Guidance Counselors host presentations on topics such as financial aid, scholarships, test taking tips, the college application process, and more. In addition to presentations, they publish a monthly newsletter with important information and resources for high school students. At PA Virtual, students have access to Naviance, a tool which assists students with college and career planning. Additionally, PA Virtual Guidance Counselors hold senior review meetings with every senior to discuss their post-secondary goals and progress toward them.
One of the requirements for graduation is the graduation project. Many PA Virtual students choose to complete a job shadowing experience as part of their graduation project, which is a great way for students to explore different careers and make informed decisions toward their post-graduation plans.
From all the skills they gain, the opportunities they have to get ahead, and all of the support in place, cyber students are well-prepared for whichever path they decide to pursue after high school.
School choice in Pennsylvania provides students with the opportunity to receive an education in an environment that works best for them. A brick and mortar setting may work for some, but a cyber school may be more suitable for others. Either way, a quality high school education is important for all of our youth to receive regardless of their post-graduation plans. It's important to understand that there are alternatives to your local public school, and as a parent in Pennsylvania, you have a choice in your child's education.
If you’d like to discover more about what online high school looks like, check out our blog post, “How Does Online High School Work?”
For more information about cyber schooling, we invite you to check out our Ultimate Guide to Attending a Cyber Charter School in PA. This guide includes curriculum examples, comparisons of PA cyber schools, and much more.