Scholarship Winners Weigh in on the Benefits of Virtual School
What do teens really think about virtual school? What do they perceive as its benefits? Do they regret not being part of the typical high school experience? If you’re considering online school for your child, you may be interested to read what the ten winners of Connections Academy’s tenth anniversary scholarship contest have to say about their online educational experiences. The quotes below are excerpted from the winning contest essays and reveal how these shining stars from the class of 2012 used the unique advantages of virtual school to lay the groundwork for a bright future.
Students unanimously praised virtual school as excellent preparation for learning independently in college:
- “[With] no one around to constantly tell me what to do and when to do it, I learned how to get things done well and on time.”
- “I was able to learn quickly how to form a cohesive, less stressful schedule for myself … to complete lessons and tests on time. I am confident I will be able to balance my time at my job coupled with my school responsibilities.”
Several scholarship winners wrote about using the freedom they had as virtual high school students to gain valuable career experience. One grad, an aspiring writer, took the opportunity to write professionally for a nonprofit organization, and another was able to receive training as an emergency medical technician. A third student commented:
- “My flexible schedule has allowed me to work in a law office…. Without Connections Academy, I would not have been able to gain this remarkable experience that has ultimately led me to desire a law degree.”
One scholarship winner wrote that he learned much from his experiences in advocating for virtual schools:
- “I testified electronically before the State Senate Education Committee about the need for virtual schools. My personal testimony impacted the legislators, and the senators referenced my story while debating the bill. Learning to advocate for myself and other students will help me achieve any future goals.”
Others emphasized how online education helped them deal with a variety of personal issues:
“The flexible scheduling gave me time to focus on getting well. Consequently, my health has improved greatly, allowing me to set off for college.”
- “Given my Asperger’s … putting me in direct contact with a crowd of strangers [is] counterproductive…. [In traditional school], I was sullen, friendless, and had a ‘C’ average. My life has … taken a 180 degree turn since I began Connections Academy. My GPA is now a solid 3.70, and I [took] AP classes. I smile and laugh a whole lot more…. I have plenty of friends, who[m] I hang out with regularly.”
And while some parents and educators remain skeptical about the level of personalized attention online students receive, several of our scholarship winners stressed that the personal relationships with teachers were among the strongest benefits of virtual school:
- “I would never have realized that teachers sitting in a room 60 miles from my house would be more helpful toward my future than teachers sitting in the same room. One in particular really inspired me to look at life openly, and another taught me how to put discipline in my life.”
- “I have felt closer to my teachers and have been able to openly ask questions about my schoolwork. One of my science teachers also helped me discuss and explore my postsecondary options within different fields of science…. Without Connections Academy, I would not have been able to achieve my dreams in figure skating [or to] become the responsible, self-motivated, educated, and independent individual that I am today.”
Perhaps the following quote best sums up the inspiring message woven throughout all of the winning entries:
“[H]igh school is a springboard, giving me the confidence and ability to fly. I carry with me the knowledge, experience, and character cultivated over the past four years. I am a much more driven and capable individual. As I enter college, Connections Academy has laid a firm foundation that will serve me well.”
After reading their essays, I’m looking forward to hearing about the many great things these students will achieve in the future!
What was the best advice you received when starting college or a career? If you have any words of wisdom you’d like to share with the class of 2012 as they begin this new phase of life, please add them in the comments below.