The senior year of high school is highly anticipated. It's the pinnacle of four years of hard work and 12th graders eagerly look forward to the transitions to come. While students who have attended a virtual high school might not walk across the stage in that traditional cap-and-gown come graduation, other benefits affording just as much pomp and circumstance could await.
Making the most of your senior year: The benefits of flexibility
Twelfth grade is traditionally a hectic time with students attempting to complete final course requirements and plan for life after high school. Online students can position themselves to be well-connected with the admissions specialists of their choice colleges. They have the freedom to make calls and find answers to their questions during the day when traditional seniors are in school.
Seniors are not the only students pursuing an online education. Many K-12 students are now enrolled in online learning whether it's through an online district school with an actual campus setting or through distance-learning done from the home. In "Fast Facts About Online Learning," the International Association for K-12 Online Learning indicates:
- Supplemental or full-time online learning opportunities are available to at least some students in 48 of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
- 75 percent of school districts have one or more students enrolled in an online or blended learning course.
- 72 percent of school districts with distance education programs plan to expand online offerings in the coming year.
Basic skills in online 12th grade programs: Reading, writing and confidence
The basic skills that are covered in the online 12th grade curriculum are a unique mix of core subjects and extracurricular activities. Students at this level of learning must have a total of 60 credit hours--obtained at a typical rate of 15 credit hours per year. There are opportunities built in to the senior year that allow students to make up any classes that were dropped or failed. In other words, students who have passed everything might enjoy a lighter class load during their final high school year. For those students looking for a challenge, Advanced Placement courses offer academic rigor and the chance to earn college credits based on scores on the national exam.
Common topics of study for seniors in 12th grade online programs:
- Language arts: British literature, the research process
- Math: Trigonometry, precalculus or calculus
- Science: Physics, statistics
- Social studies: American government, economics
Your final year: Your fun year
Online seniors nearing the end of their high school careers likely get the same anxiety and anticipation, or senioritis that traditional high school seniors experience. Fortunately, online 12th grade students have opportunities to help ease that feeling. Because classes are flexible, there are fewer hours confined to classrooms or other set locations. Many seniors working on their education online also have the ability to control the pace at which they work. This can free up a substantial amount of time to pursue other interests, extracurricular activities or to work.
At graduation time, seniors in online programs could have the chance to walk across the stage and accept their diploma alongside traditional students at their sponsoring high school. Those students who take classes through an exclusively online high school can have private ceremonies or find other opportunities to celebrate. It could be that some students even participate in a virtual graduation--this is becoming a trend for online colleges, after all.
Transitioning to post high-school life
Parents and guardians still play an integral role in seniors' lives during their final year of high school. Parents may help facilitate communications with college admissions offices, as well as help to make decisions concerning living and eating arrangements. Because parents could be helping finance the costs of college, many enter into negotiations with collegiate financial aid offices concerning grants, loans and scholarships. It's also a time that parents help their seniors figure out what other kind of post-secondary education they might want to obtain.
Even if students spend three years at a traditional campus-based high school, it's never too late to consider digital learning alternatives. Twelfth grade online programs are geared at helping new students jump right in and benefit from flexible scheduling and a host of technological resources. Students may find that the last year of high school is a great time to finish their credits and get a head-start on a huge population of students trying to get into reputable colleges or otherwise plan their futures.