What is the Difference Between an Online High School and a Public High School?

Posted on January 22 2012

Students come in all shapes, sizes, and yes, learning styles. There is no one absolute when it comes to deciding between an online high school education and a public high school. Although there are some very distinct differences between what either offers, essentially the decision to choose one or the other is entirely based on the needs of the student.

The differences between the education offered by online high schools and public high schools differ mostly in delivery. One demands physical presence within a firm schedule, the other is flexible – you can attend class at virtually any moment you want to. Some students need live interaction to benefit from the learning material; others do quite well in a self-driven mode where they seek specific guidance whenever they need it. Public high school courses are organized by time and a schedule and definite date of completion, online high school courses are self-paced, you can go as slow or fast as you want or need. In an online high school course you can dwell on a problem without being left behind, or contrastingly, you can speed up quickly without having to wait for the rest of the class.

Students choose to attend an online high school for a diversity of reasons. Some students are bored with coursework and need a challenge, others want to get ahead of their course schedule or graduate early. Some want to retake failed classes; others are interested in courses that their schools might not be offering. Additionally, students attending high school online have the opportunity to make time for anything else they want to do at any time. Some students have ambitious and promising career goals and need their time to do much-needed training, like young, aspiring gymnasts, actors, and competitive horse-riders.

Traditional schools such as public high schools offer other students the chance to take part in social activities that influence their personal development, or enhance hobbies or skills. They have the opportunity to get involved in sports that may be important to college careers in sports. School concerts, performances, and the opportunity to develop personable relationships with mentors, counselors, and teachers are all reasons why students may prefer a traditional school. All of these opportunities are just as essential for some students.

Although there are many concrete differences between online high school programs and public school programs, it is impossible to say that one option is better than the other. Both options are viable for different reasons and for different people. It’s all a matter of who you are, where you are in life, and what you need.