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How to Research When Choosing an Online School

15 Jul

How to Research When Choosing an Online School

Posted By: 
Joshua

This CMA-SAS #touchthefuture blog post takes a look at a question we received from a parent interested in our personalized online school: To ask your own question, click here to take this survey.

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Marcus was a precocious child, even as a toddler. He put on shows to entertain the neighborhood kids. He was cast in child roles at the local repertoire theater and sang in summer stock musicals. By the time he was old enough for middle school, he put his 10-year old foot down. Marcus refused to go to junior high because he wanted to go into "show biz."

What was Marcus thinking?

Well, he had a taste of theater in some pretty good productions, as a matter of fact. And, public school was not engaging him anymore. He felt stuck in an unimaginative curriculum and culture. He felt older than his classmates, and he saw nothing in his future in the school system.

But, Marcus did not know what to do except put the ball in his parents' court. Decision-making was their job. And, he felt he knew what was best for him.

What did his parents think?

Marcus' mom and dad were confused and upset by his push back. They felt he had been heavily influenced by the theater people with whom he had worked. And, it is probably true that, in treating him like a "pro," the theater people had influenced him.

But, Marcus' parents were upset that they might have a "drop out" on their hands. In their minds, if he did not graduate from a traditional on site high school, he would not be college material.

What are their options?

Marcus' parents, like most folks, are old school about school in general. So much a part of the tradition, they just thought of education as a series of structured steps with diplomas at the end of each stage.

Part and parcel of that thinking is the assumption that school is a brick and mortar place with sequential core courses and required tests. It is a multiple choice, matching test world.

However, an increasing number of parents are recognizing the values and opportunities presented by online schools -- from kindergarten through high school.

What to do?

Marcus' mom found a book - Finding an Online High School: Your Guide to More Than 4,500 High School Courses Offered Over the Internet - and started her search. And, his dad focused on Virtual Schooling: A Guide to Optimizing Your Child's Education.

During family meetings, they agreed on the practical values in:

  • Asynchronous instruction that allows students to work at their own pace.
  • The ability to study anywhere at any time with internet access.
  • A variety of classroom and curriculum options.
  • The student engagement encouraged by virtual learning technology and resources.

So, they began their search with:

The Outcome?

Reading and online searches gave Marcus' parents confidence in their son's decision, and Marcus felt even more empowered. But, the first round of information did not answer all their questions.

They met with advisers at the repertoire theater where Marcus had worked. Those people convinced his parents of his talent and potential, and they described a program that would structure his theater development.

And they created a short list of online schools to pursue and contact in person. Marcus' parents are as demanding as he is, so they took their time and went as deep as they could into their questions and analysis.

Everyone is happy now. Marcus is completing his second year of middle school faster than he would at the local public school. His parents are happy with that and increasingly impressed by his show biz potential.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this! So, go ahead and respond to this email.