8 Indicators of A Good Online High School
Posted on October 10 2013
There are online high schools and there are online high schools. Admittedly, in the online academic world, there are true-blue online schools that offer quality education and there are schools that are referred to as diploma mills. It is important for parents and students alike to distinguish between the two types of virtual high schools so that they can know which option to take if they are really serious about learning.
Of course, you can’t easily tell by the quality of the content, since you will usually have to sign up first before you can view the content. We also know the basic advantages of online schools such as flexibility and the opportunity for personalized learning. So what separates the good online high schools from the bad? What indicators should parents watch out for? Here are some:
- Accreditation. Is the online school accredited? Accreditation is a very important indicator, since it shows whether that that school has met the standards of the assigned accreditation commission. The accreditation process looks not just on the quality of the material but also on the school’s compliance with regards to the curriculum, the type and level of instruction, as well as the student services a school can provide. Accreditation shows that the online high school credits you earn from the school will be recognized by selected academic institutions as well as potential employers.
- Track record. Do you know of someone who has taken courses or has graduated from that online school? It will be good to get firsthand feedback to gauge how well the student has learned with the educational platform and curriculum offered by the school. You can also check the school’s track record from other institutions such as the Better Business Bureau, as well as reputable online review sites.
- Courses offered and work needed to finish a course. A good online high school has a comprehensive line-up of courses offered, starting from the basic lessons to electives that cater to a wide range of interests. If you can, you should ask for a sample syllabus to see how a course is set up. A good indication that a school is not a diploma mill is that it will clearly state from the onset how many hours the student has to work in order to earn credit for that course.
- Responsiveness of the support team. First, check the various ways you can contact the online school. Try contacting the online school via e-mail or phone. Gauge how fast the response rate is for e-mailed inquiries. For phone inquiries, how knowledgeable was the support team? Their responsiveness is an indication of how helpful they will be in case you encounter problems with your software or with the lessons themselves.
- Delivery of the material. How is the student expected to learn? Will there be textbooks mailed out to you or e-mailed to you for you to answer? Or are the lessons delivered in such a way that the students themselves are interested and engaged with the topic? A good online high school program should be able to provide the lessons in a way that is natural and organic, where students have a way of interacting with the material and with the online teacher and schoolmates.
- Appearance of the website. How the website is structured and constructed can point to how the learning materials are also crafted. Check whether the website makes good use of multimedia, easy to navigate and free of grammatical errors.
- Availability of licensed and experienced teachers. Does the online school boast of teachers who are licensed and available to address any questions or issues that the student may raise about the lesson? Does the school provide personalized support and guidance, especially for students who are struggling with a particular subject?
- Price. Beware of unexpected bargains. Remember, you get what you pay for. Although it is not always necessarily the case, the price is an indication of the work put into developing the material. Look for an online school that is reasonably price – not astonishingly low but not priced too high as well.
Hopefully, armed with these indicators, parents are able to make an informed decision about choosing the best online high school for their child.