High school juniors can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's bright, and they know they want to reach it. With two years of high school under their belts, juniors generally settle into an academic rhythm and many are thinking about the next big steps: scoring well on standardized tests and applying for desired colleges.
One way 11th graders can complete those goals is through an education online. Juniors choosing to take classes online, either part-time or full-time, can have direct contact with admissions specialists and counselors at their schools who will help steer them in the right direction. In the online environment, students may face less distractions -- and drama -- that can occur at a traditional high school and instead be able to focus strictly on academic goals.
Digital learning for juniors: Leaving the traditional campus-based program behind
If you're mulling over the choice between a traditional high school and the distance learning environment, consider the advantages of an online education. Flexible class scheduling gives students the freedom to take classes when and where they want. This means juniors will have more time for part-time jobs or those things of other importance in their lives.
Also, with online learning, students are engaged in an online world akin to what may be found in college -- online or otherwise -- where sharp communication skills for a future job may be learned. Additionally, the network of support with an online school is just an email, chat or text away. This means students don't need to spend time waiting in line or scheduling an appointment to see their guidance counselors.
You won't be alone if your family chooses an online 11th grade learning environment. The International Association for K-12 Online Learning shows that:
- There are an estimated 3 million enrollments in K-12 online and blended courses.
- There are 437,000 course enrollments in state virtual schools and 200,000 full-time students enrolled in full-time online schools in the U.S.
- These 200,000 students include 119,920 enrolled in 220 virtual charter schools in 26 different states.
11th grade skills: College prep building blocks in the digital environment
In the online school environment, juniors typically spend up to four or five hours daily in front of the computer learning the basic skills they need to move on to the 12th grade. Online 11th grade students concentrate on varying levels of math, science, social studies and language arts, as well as learning across the curriculum. Advanced placement courses and extracurricular activities are also available, and, just like at a traditional school, can enhance a student's skills and help him or her gain college credit.
Standard curriculum dictates that juniors must pass at least one of the following core courses to become eligible for the twelfth grade:
- Language arts: American literature, the research process
- Math: Algebra II, trigonometry
- Science: Chemistry, physics
- Social studies: World War I, World War II, the Cold War
Through online 11th grade programs, juniors will find opportunities to advance their learning in areas like these and could also discover options to tailor fit classes toward areas of interests.
Junior curriculum: Course offerings, guidance opportunities and class hours
Many juniors, no matter if they're attending an online school or going to a traditional campus, need to complete 15 semester hours during that school year. In that model, a student should already have accrued 30 semester hours to be a junior and would be working on the next 15 semester hours to complete that year. These hours can come from any combination of the four core courses: language arts, math, science and social studies. Extracurricular courses also apply toward graduation credits but are considered separate from core curriculum requirements. Online programs typically provide high school counselors and college admissions specialists to students to help ensure they are on track and receiving answers to questions that arise.
Parent support: A home network that cultivates success
Despite the fact that juniors are beginning to adopt a sense of autonomy with respect to their schooling, the parent factor is still present and can mean the difference between an average year and a successful one. Many online programs offer some type of parent connection program that allows parents and guardians to log on to a Web-based interface to view their child's grades and connect with guidance counselors. This series of checks and balances reduces the chances of students veering off track by the end of the year.
Additionally, more online schools are establishing partnerships with community stakeholders to encourage top performance and reward excellence. Employees of community businesses are invited to visit school websites and become involved in online opportunities to volunteer their time, donate their resources or mentor at-risk students.
The junior year of high school requires students buckle down and focus on their future goals. With college admissions on the line, juniors are advised to take advantage of every resource they have. Fortunately, 11th grade online programs provide students with a wide variety of resources to help them to take the steps they need to achieve. With the flexibility and convenience of home-based learning, juniors can even mix up their academics with extracurricular activities to gain a well-rounded education.