In an earlier post (find it HERE), I displayed a list of some of the correspondence school programs available to homeschoolers. Though every school on the list was a little bit different, they all shared something in common — overall control of curriculum and graduation requirements.
Control is a characteristic of correspondence schooling. And while some families like that kind of oversight, others are not willing to give up the freedom to make high school choices on their own.
Let’s take a look at other characteristics of correspondence (virtual, by-mail, or online) schools. By the end of this post, the decision to enroll in a correspondence type program for high school may be become clearer.
PROs of correspondence schooling may include (not every school may offer everything on this list):
- Pre-selection of courses, or the chance to select from a short list of high school options, helping to narrow down choices without becoming overwhelmed with a myriad of high school options all at once
- A single curriculum, or the opportunity to select one of only several tracks (college prep or career, for instance) making choices easier, knowing students take only the specific courses needed to succeed
- The expertise of teachers, counselors, school leaders, and others who specialize in the areas they teach and remain current as to legislation, requirements and research about high school
- Accreditation, offering families the knowledge that the school has voluntarily opened themselves to scrutiny by applying for certification from an accrediting body, and is meeting requirements to remain accredited in the future
- Academic advisement for students and their parents, making course selection easier, helping to match students with potential programs that meet their needs, and offering help throughout the program whenever it is needed
- Record-keeping services, including transcript preparation, for families that prefer to avoid having to do this themselves
- A diploma for students who successfully meet all requirements and complete the program
CONs of correspondence schooling (varies by school — check each individually) include:
- Adherence to a core or a set of standards, even when homeschoolers may not fully support a set of state or national education standards
- Cost of enrolling in the program, either monthly or annually, plus the cost of additional services, such as transcripts or graduation
- The loss of control, as schools dictate requirements and are generally unable to bend if students request to do something a little bit differently
- Lack of variety, as courses and curriculum are primarily dictated, and no flexibility is offered unless it is already built in
- A restrictive schedule that may or may not match the lifestyle, learning style or individual needs of a student, and little flexibility when it comes to completing coursework and assignments on time
- Little personal contact, if any is offered at all, stripping students of the chance to participate in activities with other students, or consult with professors if they so choose
- A focus on completion instead of mastery, leaving students helpless when it comes to repeating missed work or lack the real understanding necessary to move on to the next course or topic
- Dependence on books and/or online course material, with little opportunity to learn differently and from other sources
- Forcing students to meet grade-level requirements, even when students may need to revisit an earlier grade or move ahead beyond material that comes easy to them
- Risking the possibility of losing homeschool status when forgetting to select homeschool options (see below)
Keep in mind some schools may have other requirements and restrictions in addition to those listed here, such as medical forms, attendance requirements and so on. It is also worth noting that full-time enrollment in some of these programs could — either positively or negatively – affect a student’s chances of participating in local high school activities, participating in other enrollment-type programs, receiving scholarships, being accepted to colleges, and more.
In general, I tend to recommend selecting schools offering more choices and greater flexibility, rather than less. Though choices like these are best left to every individual family, do CONTACT me, if I can help make high school easier.
Finally, when looking into options like these, do pay attention to possible consequences — legally or otherwise – of enrolling in a full-time high school program. Some programs — though the work is completed at home – really end in the student enrolling in a public school instead (read THIS to learn more). And while this may not be a concern to some, most families prefer to maintain homeschool status, and are wary of giving this up to a public school instead.
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