Preparing for Your Online High School Courses

Posted on January 09 2013

So you’ve checked out The American Academy and enrolled for your first set of online high school courses. An online high school is an excellent way to earn your high school diploma even as you’re working, pursuing your athletic or artistic dreams or are in a special situation that prevents you from going to a “brick and mortar” school.

Make no mistake, unlike the common notion, getting your high school diploma online is not a walk in the park. For accredited virtual high schools, there are high standards required for each course you take. It needs a certain level of dedication and time management in order for you not just to earn your diploma, and acquire knowledge and valuable skills that will help you reach your future goals.

Now, you may be apprehensive about the first online courses you’ll be taking. Gear up, you can handle it! Here are some simple tips to help you through the first courses (the rest comes easier after the first ones!):

  • Get to know your school. Even without the physical “contact” of a “brick and mortar” school, it will be helpful to go on a visit. Explore the virtual school’s website. Find out the support that’s available - - how you will contact tech support, your teachers and your classmates. Getting to know the technological aspect of your school will help you know the “lay of the land”, so to speak.
  • Prepare your study area. This is where you can sit and work without distractions. Set aside a corner in a room or an entire room, if that’s possible. This study area should have ample lighting and space for you to be comfortable. It should have shelves or storage where you can keep your physical study materials – folders (for your syllabi and other papers), office supplies and books.
  • Get tech-ready. Be sure that you have the right computer programs (and memory and byte-power!). If you need help setting up the computer software, feel free to contact the tech support department. In your study area, you should also have the computer peripherals that can aid in learning – an ergonomic keyboard, a printer and microphone (if you need to talk via Skype or other communications software). Also, check that your internet connection is up to speed (literally). This will help make your lessons go smoothly, when lessons, e-mails and online videos can be accessed without too much of a wait.
  • Take a look at the course syllabus. With the syllabi, you get the idea of what the course expects of you - the amount of work you have to do in order to complete it. This provides an outline of coursework, homework and deadlines to meet.
  • Outline your schedule. Using the syllabi of your courses, you can pencil in the deadlines for projects and assignments.
    • Cut it into manageable pieces. It will also be helpful to try to subdivide the work into smaller pieces to have a weekly goal on the amount of coursework you need to do. These can then be further subdivided into daily tasks.
    • Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Do not schedule in more than you can actually do for the day.
    • Make time for life. You should also take into consideration other aspects of your life – your work, duties at home and time with family and friends, as well as your interests and hobbies.
    • Take a break during the day and during the “semester”. Schedule days off, where you can relax and refresh. This way you don’t get too tired or burnt out and you come back to your work with a fresh and rejuvenated mind. Take note that this schedule can be flexible and can be changed on a weekly (and even daily) basis. If the schedule is too full or too light, make adjustments as you see fit.
  • Get to know your classmates. Introduce yourself to your new online schoolmates. They can be helpful as you can organize online study groups. This is a great way to connect and share insights, experiences and knowledge that can add value to what you’re already learning.
  • Relax and enjoy! An online high school program can actually be a great learning experience. Relax and enjoy the experience. You can do it!