I can tell you that online high schools are a wonderful invention. I can tell you these schools suit many learners. However, I can also tell you that they are most assuredly not for everyone. Yes, students do drop out of online high schools and in numbers that represent a significant percentage of students.
I like online high schools. I have written a book about online high schools. And, yet, I get these heart-wrenching emails from parents wanting to “fix" their child's education. Little Johnny or Little Peggy Sue has been kicked out of their third high school for poor behavior.
How can you know which is the right choice for you and your child? Take a look at these five “rules" and see where you fall. Nothing is absolute. All five of these could describe you and it still may be worth the effort. Only you can know what you are willing to do.
1. Don't choose an online high school if you have trouble working independently. Online high schools are most successful for students who can get the job done. If it was hard getting the work done when you had multiple teachers, a guidance counselor, parents, and friends all encouraging you, how much harder will it be when you have to do all that yourself?
2. Don't choose an online high school if you have been kicked out of many other high schools. The one caveat is that you have someone in your life who is willing to act like a school teacher for you and push you to get work done. Again, this is not an absolute. Evaluate what gets you kicked out of school. Is it something that will not spill over into your online high school?
3. Don't choose an online high school if you are not willing to work hard. This is most decidedly not easier than attending class each day. The drop-out rate for online high schools is significant. You will work hard. You will likely work harder than most public schools require.
4. Don't choose an online high school if you are not willing to choose an accredited school (no matter how much you may like the program). Why make your life harder than it has to be? Unaccredited schools are not typically acceptable to employers and colleges. The one exception would be programs authorized by state departments of education.
5. Don't choose an online high school if you are using it to escape. I offer this one carefully because the word “escape" has many meanings. Escaping public schools by going online is an acceptable choice. Escaping five-day-a-week school can be more problematic. Often these students think that life would be so much more grand if they could only go to class in their jammies and wake up whenever they like. Be careful!
I still think online high schools are a great option for many students for a variety of reasons. Just make sure that you have thoroughly thought out all of your options before you embark on that new adventure.
Thomas Nixon is the author of Complete Guide to Online High Schools: Distance learning options for teens & adults. In it, he details how to earn a high school diploma online . The companion website, BestOnlineHighSchools.com , is the premier source of information on online high schools. His website is ThomasNixon.com.