Online high school classes are becoming a popular alternative way for students to obtain a high school diploma.This article compares traditional high school vs. online high school education programs, and offers the pros and cons of taking virtual high school classes.

Students choose to get an online education for many reasons; they may live in a remote area, be bullied at school, struggle academically with traditional classroom instruction, need a more flexible schedule, or wish to complete high school at an accelerated pace.

The U.S. Department of Education defines online learning as learning which takes place partially or completely over the Internet, and does not include any type of telecasting, audio, print-based, or stand-alone educational software. Online high school classes may be taken as a complete alternative to face-to-face learning, or be combined with traditional high school classes as a learning enhancement.

Traditional vs. Online High School

In comparing traditional and online high school programs it is important to understand that while both may be able to provide students with a high school diploma they are two very different ways of providing an education.Traditional high school is good for students who like a regimented schedule, enjoy social activities, and learn best with personal instruction; whereas students who are self motivated, prefer anti-social activities, and learn better on their own are best suited for online classes. While it can be difficult to combine traditional school with homeschool, it is relatively easy to combine traditional high school with online high school courses (in most areas). Traditional schools often have stricter required course structure and less optional courses compared to online schools. Traditional schools often have thousands of students to interact with and virtual education does not provide much interaction with others. Both traditional and online high schools can offer excellent education opportunities, but one may be better suited than the other for a particular student.

Pros of Taking Online High School Classes

Convenience - Classes can be taken and studied from any location with a computer and Internet connection. Students with busy school, work, travel, or family schedules find this benefit extremely helpful.

Flexibility - Most online classes allow students to work at their own pace and at whatever time is convenient for them; however some online classes require students to be online at a specific time for virtual meetings.

Safety - Many students choose online classes to prevent or protect themselves from bullying, while others that live in rural communities with treacherous commute conditions. Students who have experienced bullying often feel safer taking online classes within the safety of their own home.

Time - Many online high school programs allow students the ability to work at their own pace, often leading them to be able to complete the program and graduate early. This can be a great benefit to students hoping to enter the workplace or college early.

Quality - Most online high schools provide a wide range of classes to choose from, and the materials provided for each class is typically of high quality (though this may vary). The electronic data stored and transmitted for online classes is more easily updated, than printed textbooks, providing students with the most up-to-date and accurate information.

Cons of Getting an Online High School Diploma

Social Life - While some students may thrive academically in the more isolated environment of virtual schooling, it can also be detrimental to their social life.Traditional high school offers students a better opportunity to grow emotionally and socially through various clubs, dating activities, sports activity, and group learning environment.

Cost - Free online high school programs are offered throughout various regions of the U.S.; however not all school districts offer virtual education programs. Private online education systems can be very expensive.Of course, in order to participate in online high school classes the student must also purchase their own computer, books and supplies, and have Internet service.

Instruction - Online classes cannot provide the same level of instruction as sitting in a traditional classroom. While instructors may be available via email, online chat, forums, or video; response times can be lengthy and does not offer the same level of in-class instruction.

Motivation - If an online student is not self-motivated to complete the courses in a timely manner they may quickly fall behind. In order to do well and succeed in online high school courses, students must remain motivated and focused.

Credibility - Not all online high school classes/programs are created equal, when searching for the best online high schools find out if they are accredited and how well any colleges you are interested in accepts their credentials. Some colleges and employers do not view an online diploma the same as a high school diploma, and therefore may create problems with enrollment and/or possible grants and financial aid.

There are several private and public high schools that offer online educational opportunities to their students. More and more public high schools are recently seeing the value of offering virtual high school courses, and many of them offer the Internet classes for little or no cost. Here are just a few online high schools offered by state education departments:

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