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Online College for Accelerated High School Students

Recently, there has been a dramatic increase in the number and variety of online college courses offered, and many colleges have opened enrollment for their web courses to high school and prospective college students. Online courses offer a unique opportunity for high school students to get a taste for college level work, which can prove invaluable as they plan their immediate future. This article is designed to help these young students get the most out of digital course offerings.

Free Online Programs

A number of top schools now offer free courses online, such as those taught through Coursera . With Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC), instructors and professors from the best universities teach thousands of students from around the world, for free. By employing innovative methods, online schools like Udacity use podcasts and the newest open source management platforms to help students master topics regardless of where they live.  Although MOOCs are generally free, in order to earn a certificate of proficiency, most schools charge a modest fee.

Online Programs from Top Universities

A number of top universities have embraced online education. Schools like the University of Michigan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cal Tech and Harvard all participate in MOOC programs. Others, like Johns Hopkins , offer distance learning graduate programs completely online. Some top schools even offer accredited online undergraduate degrees, such as Penn State .

Online Classes vs. Traditional College Prep

Advanced Placement Courses

To prepare for college and get a leg-up, many students take Advanced Placement (AP) courses . It is generally less expensive to take an AP course than an online college or university class. AP exams cost between $50 and $120 typically, compared with at least $600 per course through a university. In some places, the cost for the AP exam is subsidized, so if it is offered, an AP class may be a good choice.

AP courses are not without their downsides. Students may only take and test in AP classes offered through their school – so if your school does not offer statistics, you are out of luck. Similarly, not all colleges will give full credit for AP courses, if at all. Third, students who take AP courses in high school may miss out on other high school opportunities, as there are only so many hours in a high school day.

Early College Enrollment

High school students are sometimes able to take college courses while still completing their high school diplomas. With some early college classes, students may take a course in high school that has been accredited by a college, thereby earning credit for college and high school at the same time. Other early college programs allow high school students to attend classes on campus or participate in online courses.

In fact, some high schools have transitioned to become Early College High Schools . These innovative programs blend high school and college, compress the time it takes to earn a high school degree, and help students earn two years of college credit.

On the downside, not every student has early college opportunities available. In order to participate in early college, students must usually score sufficiently high on a test, like the SAT or ACT, or on a proficiency test. Furthermore, some early college programs charge students the full cost of tuition.

High School College Prep

Many high schools offer college preparatory courses to help students get ready for university. Requiring four years of English, and at least three of social studies, math and science, these high school programs force kids into a rigorous academic program, leaving them little time for “fun” courses and electives.

Although parents insist these programs are necessary for college success, recent research has called into question the efficacy of such demanding high school curriculums. In fact, a 2007 study found that only 25% of students who completed the college prep curriculum were well prepared for college-level work. According to researchers , many college freshmen are simply not prepared for the demands of post-secondary education, particularly when it comes to writing and math.

Online Classes

Private schools, like Kaplan and StraighterLine, offer online preparatory courses, such as developmental writing and math; these schools charge fees similar to some online colleges. Many students take advantage of free open content course materials to get themselves up-to-speed, such as the resources provided through MIT Open Courseware ; while these students will not earn college credit, they acquire the skills they need to “test out” of developmental courses – a great start to a collegiate career.

Although college campuses are not going to be replaced anytime soon, traditional college is changing rapidly. With online course management software becoming increasingly efficient and nimble, and demand for online courses growing, even the most ivy-covered institutions are offering online courses and programs. For students just beginning their college careers, taking advantage of digital learning opportunities means an easy leg up on their college coursework.

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Earn High School Diploma From Home

Start Earning A High School Diploma From Home

In order to earn a high school diploma at home, you have to be motivated enough to study on your own, attend online classes, and do independent work. For some people, this method of education is not structured enough. For others, this type of learning is freeing, allowing them to embrace their own academic skills and explore the areas in which they are truly interested. If you are the type of student who can work on your own and stay motivated to learn, then you may find success finishing your diploma at home.

Prepare to Earn a High School Diploma at Home

First, you will need to set up a dependable computer system. It usually doesn’t matter whether you have a PC or a Mac, but you should always check with your online program first in order to ensure compatibility. Some institutions require that you download classroom software that is only compatible with the PC platform while others work only through a web browser.

Second, you should order all your course materials prior to beginning your first class. Some students believe that they can wing it without the books for a course, but these reference sources are imperative to progress in your coursework. Finally, you will want to check with colleges, apprenticeship programs, or job-training facilities that you’re interested in to ensure that your online diploma will be accepted after you graduate.

Excel High School offers internet services for high school students and returning adult students looking to finish courses from home. You can register by phone or online any time of the day or night.

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Excel High School is a great school! My daughter was in another online highs school last year, but she was not challenged and was not being prepared for college.

Since starting this year at Excel, she is being fully challenged in honors courses. My daughter told me the other day, “mom, I have never had to work so hard in school”. We love you Excel High School and Anna will be with you until she graduates next year.

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High School Curriculum

Online education is a natural fit for today’s teens. High school students have grown up with the Internet, and they use technology to connect with each other and their interests every day. Who better to take advantage of the benefits and possibilities of a free online high school program ?

Connections Academy’s 9–12 education features a curriculum that is fine-tuned to launch each student into a successful future and on the path towards a college degree. And Connections Education is accredited by AdvancED . While math, science, English, and social studies form the core of the curriculum, Connections Academy also offers a wide variety of online
high school courses  and homeschool courses that provide a solid foundation for whatever path graduates choose: attending college or starting a career .

Online High School Courses

  • Core and Elective Courses: Our inclusive set of core high school courses , which students are required to complete in order to receive a high school diploma, covers subjects in math, science, English, and social studies. We also offer many electives in areas such as foreign languages, digital technology, journalism, and art history.
  • Honors and Advanced Placement® (AP®)* Courses: Our Honors/AP courses are particularly beneficial for college-bound students or any ambitious student who wishes to excel in a specific subject area.
  • College Courses: Students in certain states may be able to take college courses while still in high school, simultaneously earning high school and college credit.
  • NCAA-Approved Courses: Many Connections Academy core high school courses are approved by the NCAA Eligibility Center. View a list of currently approved courses .

For more information, review the high school sample lessons and read about Connection Academy’s
academic partners .

Support and Guidance

Connections Academy virtual high school and homeschool students work collaboratively with their counselors and
Learning Coaches to develop a personal learning plan for academic progress and postsecondary planning after receiving a high school diploma. Every core subject is taught by highly qualified and certified teachers with expertise in their relevant content areas.

Preparing for Graduation and Beyond

To make sure that the graduating class of seniors is well prepared for the transition out of virtual high school, Connections Academy provides:

  • College Planning Club to help students develop a portfolio that focuses on elements sought by college admissions committees
  • Access to a full-time, certified school counselor
  • Assistance in creating a four-year academic plan
  • College and career planning, including:
    • Guidance in finding appropriate college or career opportunities
    • College application process LiveLesson® online workshops, including information on local colleges/universities
    • College tuition, financial aid, and scholarship LiveLesson online workshops
    • Free access to college admissions test preparation online courses and information about test dates, locations, etc.
  • Additional extracurricular activities such as Student Advisory Council and Debate Club

We offer in-depth support to ensure that students understand the Connections Academy graduation requirements and are well prepared to excel in life beyond high school.

View the Graduation Requirements

Learn More About Getting High School Diploma at a Free Public School

Interacting in a Virtual Classroom

Student interaction is a critical part of the overall educational process. While most of the instruction supports anytime, anywhere learning, students also participate in a live online classroom environment through
LiveLesson® technology . This is also the technology students use to turn in homework assignments and securely track their own progress.

Learn More About the Technology

* AP® and Advanced Placement® are registered trademarks of the College Board. Used with permission.

An Outstanding High School Program

Our online high school students are thriving! See the difference our program made for Ashley Argota, Nickelodeon star and Connections Academy graduate.

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Experience High School Your Way

Get the scoop about online high school in the Resources for Teens section.

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