Differences between Public and Private Online School Explained
If you’ve been researching home education options for your child, you may have noticed that the availability of online learning options varies widely from state to state. While state legislation continues to play a critical role in providing access to public online course options, digital learning is emerging not only in private school course catalogs, but also with the introduction of fully online private schools. While to many parents, this is an unfamiliar idea, online private school is an excellent choice for some families. The following summarizes the primary differences between public and private online schools—and some of the many reasons why you may want to consider enrolling your child in an online private school.
- Residency and Stability—While online public schools require students to live within certain geographical boundaries, an online private school, such as International Connections Academy (iNaCA), may be available in any state, as well as outside of the country. Some families opt for virtual private school simply because a public online program is not available in their area. For families that relocate often for employment or military duty overseas, choosing online private school helps ensure that their child receives a complete, high-quality, uninterrupted education.
“iNaCA is wonderful and has many advantages. All of the teachers are great, and you make friends instantly. You can work at your own pace and study how you want.”—Mallory, a ninth grade student who attends International Connections Academy from Brazil
- Affordable Tuition—Just like bricks-and-mortar private schools, online private schools are not funded by the state, county, or school district. Although parents do pay tuition, the cost is often considerably more affordable than tuition for a traditional private school. In addition, some online private schools offer discounts for multiple children and military families.
- Individual or Summer Courses—An online private school may allow students enrolled in other schools to take individual courses—perhaps something not offered by their own school—during the traditional school year. Additionally, a private school may offer a variety of summer courses, enabling students to improve reading or math skills, enhance their transcripts for college, get ahead or catch up on earning credits, or recover credits. Online summer schools may offer rolling start dates to accommodate vacations, travel, and other family activities.
- Flexible Scheduling—Online private school students enjoy a higher level of schedule flexibility, so they can pursue personal interests that might not be possible with the “bell schedule” of a bricks-and-mortar school. Students can use this flexibility to pursue competitive athletics, performing arts, internships, part-time jobs, scouting, volunteering, or family time. The possibilities are unlimited!
“When I was at iNaCA, I was always traveling for tennis and had to stay on top of my daily schoolwork. I learned to manage my time and that has helped me now that I’m in college.”—Mac, 2013 iNaCA graduate and nationally ranked tennis player, now a kinesiology major at Michigan State University and a member of the men’s varsity tennis team
- Fewer Restrictions—An online private school does not answer to a state or district, so it may not require state testing. In addition, many offer students the ability to enroll on a part-time basis or to take more courses than normal in order to graduate early. Some have a more fluid school calendar or attendance policy. To be sure that your student will receive a well rounded and accountable education, select an online private school that offers a highly-regarded, rigorous curriculum and is accredited by a recognized educational organization.
“iNaCA has been an amazing opportunity for me because it is allowing me to follow my dreams while getting a great education.”—Kate, a fifth grade student at iNaCA from Prospect, Kentucky, and gold medalist in the Novice Pairs category at the 2015 United States Figure Skating National Championships
- Early College Credit—Online private schools may also provide students with opportunities to earn college credit while still in high school. For example, International Connections Academy offers students a Dual Credit program, the opportunity to earn up to seven first-year college credits that count toward both high school and a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, iNaCA’s Dual Enrollment program enables students to earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree at the same time. While additional costs may be required, these kinds of options typically result in significant savings on college tuition.
Just like online public school, online private school isn’t right for every family. But for some, it’s a fantastic fit that transforms a child’s view of learning—and enhances family life. These advantages make a high quality, online private school an excellent option for parents who want to be involved in their child’s education.
What benefits of online public or private school does your family enjoy? Share your favorites in the comments.