Accelerating Graduation: The Benefits of Online School
Many students are determined to graduate from high school early. So how can you help them achieve their goal? A more personalized learning environment like online school is often a great choice for aspiring early graduates. With the ability to learn at a suitable pace, online students have plenty of opportunities to advance and accelerate.
Below are a few ways that online school can help facilitate an early graduation, with insight from Sydni Hornick and Eman Khwaja, two students who were able to accelerate their graduation from International Connections Academy (iNaCA) online private school, and Samantha Hudzik, a current student at Ohio Connections Academy (OCA) who is on track to graduate both high school and college early.
Online schools typically offer a wide range of advanced courses that may not be available at a local bricks-and-mortar school. At Connections Academy®–supported online schools and iNaCA, students who qualify have the option of earning college credits and furthering their education with AP®, honors, and gifted and talented courses. Taking an advanced course can help a student not only boost his or her high school transcript for early graduation but also further develop unique skills and interests.
Sydni: “I took a lot of honors courses. I was doing more advanced lessons and schoolwork than my friends who were in a traditional school. The school really supplemented me with what I needed to get ahead.”
Eman: “Having such a large variety of courses helped me to really be excited about the things I was learning and feel more motivated to get my work done quicker.”
Samantha: “I was able to advance and accelerate by doing ninth grade work in eighth grade. Then in ninth grade, I was ready to start taking college courses.”
College Acceleration Programs
Through a college acceleration program, students have the chance to pursue both high school and college credits at the same time. At iNaCA, students can take advantage of the Dual Diploma program, which allows them to earn a high school diploma and an associate degree within four years. Similarly, Connections Academy schools like OCA have recently implemented a new College Credit Plus program for students who are interested in getting ahead and taking college courses as early as seventh grade.
Samantha: “My favorite experience with Connections Academy so far has been the opportunity that they’ve given me to take college classes at Malone University through the College Credit Plus program. With the College Credit Plus program, the state pays for your college education while you’re still in middle or high school. I started my freshman year of college at the same time that I started my freshman year of high school. One college semester class is equivalent to one full year of a high school class.”
Supportive Teachers and School Counselors
Online teachers are dedicated to helping students succeed and reach their full potential. And with no supplemental physical classroom duties, they have more time to guide, encourage, and support a student every step of the way as he or she works toward graduating early. Many Connections Academy and iNaCA graduates tell us that they wouldn’t have been able to achieve their academic goals without the supportive teachers. Connections Academy and iNaCA high schoolers can also work closely with their licensed academic counselors, who are experts when it comes to course selection, college planning, and college applications.
Sydni: “The teachers really helped me and persuaded me to go for my advanced pediatric oncology degree goal.”
Samantha: “One of the very first things I did when I started at OCA was to call the middle school assistant principal to tell her up front that I wanted to be in college by the time I was 15 years old. From that moment on, every Connections Academy teacher and administrator whom I talked to about graduating early took me seriously—they have helped me and have given me the roots to get there.”
Eman: “One of the great benefits that I had at iNaCA was the teachers—I didn’t have that through homeschooling. They were able to help me one-on-one, which allowed me to move faster through my courses and accelerate graduation.”
Online summer school is a great way for students to accelerate their graduation—while still enjoying their favorite summer activities. With the flexibility to learn wherever there is an internet connection, they can learn from home, at the beach, or on the road. iNaCA offers an affordable online summer program with all the benefits of a traditional school year, including an award-winning curriculum and interactive learning technology.
Eman: “I wanted to continue to be educated and have something to do during the summer other than my internships or whatever else I was doing. I took English, math, and other summer courses that helped me get ahead.”
Scheduling flexibility is just one of the many great perks of online learning. As long as online school students keep up with courses and stay in frequent contact with teachers, they can customize their school schedule to fit personal interests and needs. At Connections Academy public schools, students do need to meet state attendance requirements and attend state testing. As a private school, iNaCA does not have these requirements, so students have even more scheduling freedom and can truly focus on early graduation. With increased flexibility, students at both Connections Academy and iNaCA are able to get ahead in their college requirements and demonstrate leadership and initiative by participating in extracurricular activities and completing internships.
Sydni: “I liked having the flexibility to work ahead, accelerate, and get started early with college.”
Eman: “I would tell prospective students to take advantage of all the flexibility that online school offers. Enroll yourself in a lot of outside school activities that can help you get into college.”
A Suitable Learning Environment
Many students find that they have a more productive and successful school year from the comfort of home without the distractions of a traditional classroom. Learning in a quieter academic environment like online school is especially helpful for students who are taking a more challenging course load to graduate early. Advanced and gifted online school students can also choose to work ahead without having to wait for classmates to catch up.
Sydni: “Learning online really helped me to get ahead by allowing me to focus on school and my goal of graduating early. I didn’t need to worry about external distractions, which I would have had in a traditional school setting.”
While it may seem like a challenging—and sometimes far-fetched—undertaking, a high-quality online learning program will provide your student with the proper guidance and resources to attain his or her early graduation goal.
How is online school helping your student to graduate early? Share your story in the comments!