I get a lot of questions about online school, so I decided to include some of my FAQs here! For reference, I have attended Georgia Connections Academy for five years ( 8th grade-12th grade). I am President of my school’s Student Council, President of the National Art Honors Society and National Honors Society, Assistant Editor-In-Chief of my school’s magazine, and Founder of our Peer Mentor’s Club. I’ve attended public school, charter school, and online school. In addition, I am a dual enrollment student meaning I am taking college classes for high school credit. For more info on dual enrollment (or Move On When Ready), please click here!
What is online school?
Online school is doing your school from home, online. It is not the same as home school. The school I attend is Georgia Connections Academy. Connections Academy has different schools around the country. We are considered a public charter school and accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the same as any public school would be. As long as I have internet access, I can do school. There are other online schools, but I have no experience so I cannot endorse them. If you are interested to see if Connections Academy has a school in your state, please click here!
Is it home school?
This is definitely the number one question and assumption. I am here to say, no! It’s not home school. We do work from home, but have teachers. Most home schoolers have a group of parents or others that teach them. I have teachers that are the same as any public school (actually many came from public school). I have a homeroom teacher, a principal, the whole works. We meet once a week in virtual classrooms called Live Lessons, can email, or make phone calls. As I stated earlier, we are accredited by the same group as any public school. We are basically the best of both worlds–public school from home! To find out more about online schooling, please click here!
Do you have actual teachers?
Yes! I have teachers for my regular classes (many with Masters degrees in their fields) and professors for my online college classes! If you can imagine the way an online college class works, it is similar to my school.
Do you have clubs/field trips/prom/other public school activity?
We do! We have most of the things any public school has. We have over eleven GACA specific clubs and another dozen or so International Connections Academy clubs! We have at least two field trips a month available to our students in areas all around Georgia! We have prom too! I was on the committee for our last prom, and we had a Golden Ages/Great Gatsby theme! I cannot guarantee that every Connections Academy has a prom or specific field trip, but contact the teachers at your school and see what can happen! All in all, I am much more involved in GACA than I would be in a public school because I have the time to do so many awesome things!
But online school is easier than public school, right?
I do not believe this at all. Many people believe online school is the “easy way out.” However, I have experienced the exact opposite. You have to be extremely self-motivated. No one is there to check and make sure you have logged on every day. While we do have teachers, you are teaching yourself the material by going through the lessons. You can always ask your teachers questions, but they are not there to coddle you or baby you through it. You have to learn how to schedule yourself, get yourself up in the morning, make it to your online Live Lessons, send proper emails, take your own notes etc. The communication is another barrier. We have to learn how to communicate effectively through emails and phone calls. Since we do not have the “regular distractions” (discipline, bullying, drama), we cover a lot more material in a shorter amount of time. It takes us just as much time as a public school student to do our work. When I began online college classes, I found the material of a similar level as what I was doing in high school. The note taking and organization I use is very similar. Hopefully that gives a frame of reference! It is most certainly not easier, but it is more rewarding!
Don’t you get lonely working at home? Do you ever get to talk to your classmates?
I actually felt lonelier in public school than I do in online school! I have a lot of friends I have met because of online school through the many clubs and organizations that I am involved with. It is an even more special friendship because we do not see each other every day, so I know we have built a bond. But, we have also had some really amazing experiences as friends that we would not have gotten in public school. Despite being online, we talk to each other every day! All of my friends are my friends because we have similar interests and drives, not because we sit in the same math class every day. It is honestly easier to make friends online because you are not being judged for your looks or other financial or social reasons. You make friends based on the content of your character. It’s really a unique experience, but we love it!
Why did you join online school?
I have been at GACA for 5 years now and loved it! I originally joined because my dad’s job requires us to travel often. With online school, I am able to go anywhere there is internet to do school. We’ve had some significant events happen in my family, and with my school I’ve been able to be with them more, since we live several states away. The reason I stayed in online school was because of the amazing friends I have made and the opportunities I have been given. Because of GACA, I am president of three organizations, founder of another, Assistant Editor-In-Chief of a magazine, been interviewed for Governor’s Honors Program, a dual enrollment student getting her freshmen year of college done in her senior year, gotten to work with a 3D printer, represented at the GA Educational Technology Conference, won numerous awards, and more. It’s a truly unique experience and I feel absolutely blessed that I have been able to experience it.
Should I join online school?
I cannot give anyone a definitive answer on this because I do not know you, your prior knowledge, your work ethic, your home situation, etc. On the other hand, I can say a few things from my experience.
- It is crucial that you are a self-motivated student. If you cannot handle your assignments in public school now, online school is not easier.
- You cannot wait until the last minute to do all your work and there are no extensions. If you are a severe procrastinator, I would not suggest coming to online school.
- It is an adjustment coming from a public school with 30 people per class to working on your own, but it is not a “loner environment!” You can definitely make friends. We have minimal bullying or discipline issues because everyone is focused on making friends in a positive way.
- If you want to take a lot of AP, honors, or dual enrollment courses, online school is suggested because you can work at your own pace. A lot of students who take more challenging courses are a good fit for online school.
- Please be prepared to shift your schedule to your needs and use a planner. Both are 100% necessary for success. I keep a planner every day, I have to have some sort of system to write things down so I do not forget something.
- Be prepared to learn what works for you in terms of communication. Some people only need to email their teachers every couple of weeks and some people need to call them every day. It is a learning process. Also, it is of the utmost importance that you make an effort to communicate with your teachers at least once a week by either emailing them or going to a Live Lesson.
Overall, if you are a self-motivated individual, likes advanced classes, have experienced drama or discipline that takes away from your work, or just genuinely interested in online schooling, I would say give it a shot! If you do not like it, you can always go back to public school. I never expected to love online school, but now I would not have it another way!