Once you’ve decided to place your child in an online school, choosing the one that will be the best fit can be complicated.
Researching reviews of online schools is a great place to start, but how do you know that you’re getting an accurate picture of how other parents and students feel about the school?
If others have expressed dissatisfaction with the experience the school provides, does that mean that you and your student will also be unsatisfied with the school?
We spoke with George Washington University Online High School Head of School Alison Mistretta, who shared four tips that parents and students should remember as they are reading reviews for online schools.
- There are valid concerns associated with many online high schools.
According to Mistretta, there are several concerns that tend to crop up in online reviews, including:
- Lack of access to teachers and faculty – Does working remotely make it difficult for students to contact their teachers when necessary?
- Individual student attention – Do students receive the one-on-one attention they need for success?
- Social interaction – Can students connect with fellow classmates?
GWUOHS has worked hard to create an environment in which all of these concerns are addressed.
“We have developed procedures and processes, which guarantee that teachers are regularly available to students,” Ms. Mistretta says. “Our instructors are consistently accessible by phone, Skype and during Help-Desk hours, which students can visit for individualized instruction. This is in addition to the weekly live ClassConnect sessions that teachers conduct with their students, during which supplemental lessons are taught by the instructors.”
In addition to ensuring that students receive the one-on-one instruction that they need, GWUOHS provides social opportunities for students, helping students develop leadership and teamwork skills while enjoying the opportunity to connect with their peers.
“Students have the ability to work together, whether it is during group activities or discussions,” Ms. Mistretta notes. “We have a wide array of extracurricular activities and clubs that students can participate in with their peers – we have seen amazing relationships and bonds built when students collaborate during these activities.”
- You Must Learn to Read Between the Lines
It’s important to remember that even the best online high schools aren’t going to be ideal for every student. You will find negative reviews; in fact, if you only find positive reviews that sound like sales pitches for the school of your choice, that should raise a red flag.
If only positive reviews are available, then it’s time to do a little more digging.
“It is imperative to do the research – Is the school accredited, and, if so, by which accrediting institutions?” she asks. “What are the post-secondary success rates of the school’s students? What extracurricular activities does the school offer? Does the school offer college/career services?”
If you can’t find answers, keep looking.
- Find trusted sources of reference
Online high schools are gaining in popularity; even so, most parents still choose the traditional route of brick and mortar schooling for their children. This can make it challenging to find a word-of-mouth equivalent that will help you find the school that will best fit the needs of your child and your family. Don’t be afraid to ask the school you’re researching for references.
“At GWUOHS, we are always open to speaking with potential families to discuss any questions or concerns they may have regarding enrollment at our school,” Ms. Mistretta says. “We also have put prospective families in touch with our current families, so they can talk through their experience in our learning environment.”
- Identify (and stick to) your criteria when school shopping
Ultimately, you want to find an online high school that will accommodate the unique needs and strengths of your child. Once again, you will find negative online reviews, but the complaints cited may not be relevant to your student.
“It is important for parents to know specifically what they want for their child in an online school,” Ms. Mistretta concludes. “This makes for a much more effective search when deciphering through all of the online schools that are available.”
Looking for one of the best online high schools?
George Washington University Online High School is an elite online institution that can prepare your child for the most rigorous colleges and universities in the United States. Want to learn more? Visit us online today.