Virtual schools are becoming more prominent and common-place all across the United States. While they used to be rare and have low attendance, they are now increasing in enrollment year after year as more and more students have positive experiences and enjoy the many benefits of virtual school.
But what exactly is virtual school? Also known as online schools, virtual schools are public schools that are state-funded and free to students, but they do not require physical attendance of students as everything is completed online. Virtual schools are not private and are not considered homeschools, and they are required to fulfill the same requirements as a traditional public school. This includes state testing, certified teachers, standard curriculum and course programs, and more.
Virtual school teachers must be certified in the state they’re teaching in, and although they work remotely, they have the same responsibilities as teachers in a traditional school setting. Virtual school teachers must be accessible to their students to offer guidance, support, and instruction. They must track academic progress and attendance, they assign homework and grade tests, they communicate with students and parents regularly, they work with their school administration to improve academics, and they complete professional development courses and training programs related to their jobs.
All virtual schools are required to follow state-specific programs and have their students meet requirements for graduation. While the curriculum programs may vary based on the school, students must meet state standards in order to graduate with a high school diploma from an online school. Although there is flexibility in scheduling and when students complete coursework, they are still required to adhere to a semester-based schedule where they submit assignments, take tests, and complete activities according to deadlines set by their teachers.
Not all virtual schools are of the same quality, so if you’re exploring an online school for yourself or a loved one, it’s important to look at the legitimacy of the school. Some smaller online schools offer correspondence or supplemental classes, while more prominent virtual schools offer full course programs and a real high school diploma. Be sure to look at the accreditations of the virtual schools you’re researching. Some may have no accreditation at all, while others, like San Diego Virtual School, are fully accredited and recognized by three major accreditation organizations.
Benefits of Virtual Schools
You likely understand the basics of what a virtual school is, so let’s take a look at the benefits of these schools. As mentioned, not all virtual schools were created equal and not all virtual schools are the right fit for every student. However, if you’re interested in enrolling in an online school, you should be aware of the most significant benefits and how they’ll impact you during and after your time in school.
Probably the most common reason that students enroll in a virtual school is the flexibility. You don’t have to drive or ride to school, you don’t have to show up to a specific place at a particular time, and you don’t have to spend countless minutes wasting time between classes or completing busywork that won’t benefit you. Virtual schools allow students to log in to their classes at any time and from any place, as long as there is an internet connection. Students can complete their assignments at any time they wish, provided they submit them by the set deadline. This means that students with unique schedules can complete coursework on the weekends, at night, or even when they’re away from home. The flexibility is perfect for families with busy schedules, such as those with an aspiring athlete, talented performer, or military service member who may not have a normal schedule.
Employers nowadays agree that they can train most individuals on the technical aspects of a job. What they cannot do is teach adults the soft skills needed to be successful as an employee. Young adults today are missing some key skills that are keeping them from getting their dream jobs and becoming the successful adults they once hoped to be, but many of these skills are acquired by students enrolled in virtual schools. Online learners master the skills of self-discipline, time management, critical thinking, self-motivation, problem-solving, collaboration, personal responsibility, and so much more. Many students in traditional schools don’t have the opportunity to master these soft skills, but virtual learners do, and that benefits them a great deal both during school and after graduation.
Although online students are not physically present with their peers and teachers during class, online schools often foster a far more positive learning environment than traditional schools. Because virtual students don’t have the distractions or frustrations that come with traditional schools, they are far more likely to be focused on their work and encouraging toward other students. Additionally, teachers are accessible to help students at any time and they are incredibly supportive and helpful both during class time and in general correspondence. Due to the nature of the virtual classroom, students don’t experience social anxiety, bullying, or any other physical or emotional distractions that can so easily derail their academic progress in a traditional classroom.
If you want to learn more about virtual school or if you are interested in enrolling your child, get in touch with San Diego Virtual School to have your questions answered. We look forward to showing you all of these benefits and more as you experience the amazing advantages of an online learning environment.