Okay, so it really wasn’t a chance encounter. When I am not busy writing books and managing websites, I also coordinate a good-sized online learning program for a large school district in California. Be that as it may, today I got to speak with Araceli* about why online courses are a good fit for you. The chance encounter part is that I had not met her before and this really could have been any one of the hundreds of students in our program.
Araceli is in a program that is primarily for credit recovery students. In other words, the first time she took the course, she did not do well. Freshman English. Didn’t like the teacher. Liked a boy a whole lot. You get the picture. Her attention was invested elsewhere. So now Araceli is playing catch-up.
The conversation between the two of us went something like below.
Tom: So why are you taking an online course, Araceli?
Araceli: I am a junior and I work after school. The only way I could get caught up was to take an online course. I actually have a couple of courses I need to make up and I need to have them all done this spring. Maybe summer.
Tom: Why do you need to get them done now? You have next year as well.
Araceli: I am applying to colleges in the fall and I need to get the grades on my transcript before I apply. Also, I need to get my a-g* mostly done.
(*For those not in the know, a-g is a system unique to California that requires certain courses for admission to either of our state university systems. As part of the deal, they do not accept D or F grades.)
Tom: Oh, now I understand. How many courses do you need to get done?
Araceli: I need to complete three courses. Freshman year was too fun! I’ll get them done, though. I have friends who have done it.
Tom: Who have used online courses?
Araceli: Yes. Mostly.
Tom: Do you think the online courses are harder or easier than your tradition courses?
Araceli: Harder and easier. Harder because I have to motivate myself to get it done, but easier because I am not waiting for other people to finish.
Tom: Thanks for your time, Araceli!
On this website, I have focused a great deal on online schools, but the reality is that the larger number of online students are kids who are taking a single online class (or at least a single online class at a time).
It is important for you all to understand that, with a number of these schools, it is entirely possible to purchase a single course. One caveat: talk with your guidance counselor before signing up for the course. You will want to make sure that your school will accept the course.
By the way, high school students never cease to amaze me. I know that there are people who worry about this generation of students, but if our future is in the hands of students like Araceli, I’m good.
Tom Nixon is the author of Complete Guide to Online High Schools and the manager of a number of websites including Best Online High Schools and Free Virtual Schools. You can contact him here.