Rachel: Perspectives of Online Schooling: Students tell us their opinions about online schooling

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Monday, Rachel shared about her experiences at the 2012 Annual Publicschooloptions.org Family Reunion and today I am thrilled that Rachel is joining us again to share her article from her journalism class.

A little about Rachel, a 2012 Colorado Virtual Academy Graduate:

I’m going to start my journey at Aims Community College, and then transfer to a four year university (probably CSU) and get my Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology. I then plan to head to medical school (not sure where yet) and become a psychiatrist. I am also currently working as a page (shelver) at the Farr Branch Regional Library in Greeley CO. Other than school and work I’ll continue community service, hanging out with family/friends, and writing of course. I also hope to continue being an advocate for schools of choice.

Perspectives of Online Schooling

Students tell us their opinions about online schooling

By Rachel Salzano

High School students at Colorado Virtual Academy eat together at an annual Spaghetti Dinner and talent show. Photo by Mrs. Bardossas, parent of a Colorado Virtual Academy student

COLORADO – Bullying and inability to graduate are becoming increasing problems in brick and mortar schools, and they are two of the many reasons driving students to online schools such as Colorado Virtual Academy.  

Despite the negative press about online schooling, many students feel that online schooling is a good choice.

Some believe that online schooling deprives students of social skills. Parker, a seventh grader at Resurrection Christian School, stated, “I don’t care for it (online schooling). You don’t get a social life.” However, many online students do not feel as though they are being deprived of anything. “We have field trips and dances and classroom times (Student Day,)” said Carlie, a senior at Colorado Virtual Academy. “My parents chose to take me out of public school because I wasn’t receiving the education that was expected and the teachers weren’t investing in the kids…(Online schooling) really caters to kids that are independent and determined to do well in school.” Megen, a senior at Connections Academy said, “People always say that we (online students) aren’t social. It is events like these (field trip to Miller Farm) that prove them wrong.”

Colorado Virtual Academy (also known as COVA), holds many events throughout the year, including Prom, days at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and corn mazes. Connections Academy, another online school, also holds events such as these, including a homecoming dance. Socialization does not seem to be a problem for many online schools.

Another common argument against online schooling is that the education available is lacking. “No, I wouldn’t want to go to an online school. I feel like colleges wouldn’t look on me as well,” said Brandon, a junior attending University High School in Greeley. Yet online students do not see this as an obstacle. Austin Perkins, a senior at Colorado Virtual Academy, said, “I love attending COVA (Colorado Virtual Academy) because of…the amazing teachers and advisors, the curriculum that the school offers, and the rigorous independent schedule that I have to come up with. I am also graduating early, and that is partly due to the fact that I attend an online school.” Another senior at Colorado Virtual Academy, Elizabeth Kafer, stated, “I know that the coursework is more challenging and up-to-par in COVA than in any public high school around me.”

Statistics can show that online schooling is not helping test scores, or graduation rates. However, many online students become successful during, and after, high school. Perkins is doing well for himself within an online high school; he has a job and he participates in multiple high school activities not limited to his presidential responsibilities in student government. Students such as Sean Cooney, Bryce Myers, and Jessica Whiting are all attending college, and creating great lives for themselves. Not all online students go on to college, such as Joseph-Jonathan, but they still create successful lives for themselves. Joseph-Jonathan is an Assistant Chef at a mountain resort, and his promotion to Assistant Chef is in large part due to his responsible character and leadership skills.

When asked about whether online schooling should be a choice of education, Lydia (a struggling senior at Colorado Virtual Academy) said, “Honestly, I believe that the education system in the United States is in desperate need of an extreme makeover… I believe online schooling should be a choice for school.” Kafer answered, ”I do believe online school is a great choice for education as long as it is not treated and disregarded as homeschool…we still have deadlines and responsibilities. Unfortunately, I believe too many people come in expecting it to be very laid back, and when they don’t get their work done, it gives a bad reputation to everyone else…Online schooling is certainly different, but that does not make it any less equal.”

It is clear what stance many online students have on online learning, and this stance is shared by many brick-and-mortar students. Laura, a senior at University High School in Greeley, said, “It would be bad if online schooling ceased to exist…it (online school) is a good option for some people.” Abby, a senior from Resurrection Christian School, expressed the same opinion, “It wouldn’t be good if they (online schools) ceased to exist. Some people do better at online schools.”

Online schooling provides many students with the opportunity of a quality education that will allow them to follow their dreams. Hunter, a ninth grade student in his first year at Colorado Virtual Academy, said, “In the middle school I used to go to…people would be taunting you and bullying you and just beating you down. I have a high functioning form of autism, and my social skills aren’t the greatest to start, but your emotional senses don’t get much better when you aren’t even given the chance in the first place. Ever since I’ve gotten to COVA (Colorado Virtual Academy), it’s really helped me. I’m sure COVA is going to help me pursue my goals better than any other school I’ve ever gone to.”

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