girl using silver laptop on orange background.
High School High School for Adult Learners High School for Teens

What Is Virtual High School, And Is It Right for Me?

Are you curious about virtual high school and if it’s a good fit for you? We’ll get into what makes virtual high school different from in-person learning and talk about the characteristics of a successful online learner.
Lauren Ambrosio

Lauren Ambrosio

Are you looking for an alternative to traditional public high schools as a teen, or are you ready to go back to school as an adult learner? Since 2020, educational paths and choices have exploded. Not only are there many in-person options available, but there are countless virtual high school programs you can choose from. The key is to make sure virtual learning is a good fit for your life and learning style. So, what exactly does virtual high school look like, and will it work for you?

What is virtual high school?

A virtual high school allows students to pursue their education online, offering a variety of courses and diploma options. Students access lessons, submit assignments, and interact with instructors via the internet.


There are three main types of virtual high schools, including:


Public online high school: Since mid-2020, many school districts started offering hybrid and fully virtual courses for high school students. Getting your high school diploma from your local school district is usually free, not including supplies and technology costs.


Private online high school: Funded by tuition fees, private online high schools offer a diverse curriculum, sometimes with specialized courses. They tend to have flexible schedules and can be completed in fewer than four years in some cases. Penn Foster High School is an example of a private online high school.


Online charter high school: Charter schools, both virtual and in-person, operate independently but are publicly funded. Every charter school has something that they specialize in, whether it’s STEM, the arts, outdoor learning, international/multi-lingual, etc.


Read more: 12 Biggest Myths About Online High School


What is the difference between virtual and online high school?

"Virtual high school" and "online high school" are essentially the same. Both refer to schools that offer their curriculum and instruction via the internet, allowing students to study remotely. While the terms can be used interchangeably, there's generally no significant difference between them.


Can I get a job with an online high school diploma?

Yes, a diploma from an accredited online high school is usually recognized by employers, just like one from a traditional school. However, it's crucial to ensure the school is accredited by a legitimate agency. While many employers respect online diplomas, preferences can vary by industry, so researching specific career paths can be beneficial.


Read more: Beyond Graduation: How High School Prepares You for Success

Can I get into college with an online high school diploma?

Absolutely. Many colleges and universities accept diplomas from accredited online high schools. It's important to check the accreditation of the school before enrolling, especially if your plans include college.


How long does it take to complete virtual high school?

Earning a diploma from a virtual high school usually takes four years, like in traditional schools. However, the flexible nature of virtual programs can allow students to finish faster or slower based on their pace and transferred credits.


What are some disadvantages of virtual high school?

While there are many positive things about virtual learning, it does have drawbacks for some learners. Not every student will thrive in an online learning environment, and that’s okay! Here are some factors that you need to consider before enrolling in a virtual high school program.


There is little or no face-to-face interaction with other students and teachers

Students who thrive on in-person social interactions, or those who learn best through direct face-to-face teaching, might find virtual high school isolating and less engaging.


You need to have self-discipline and good time management skills

Virtual high school requires a significant degree of self-motivation and discipline. Students who struggle with time blindness or easily succumb to distractions may find it challenging to keep up with their coursework.


There are limited hands-on learning opportunities

Some subjects, like certain sciences or arts, benefit from hands-on learning experiences. Virtual schools can sometimes lack the tangible, in-person experiments or art projects that help solidify understanding.


You need to be able to access the internet regularly and be somewhat tech-savvy

Students without reliable internet access or a suitable device might encounter difficulties. Likewise, those who are not technologically inclined might struggle with online platforms.


Virtual high schools do not have extracurricular activities

Those who want to join extracurriculars like sports, clubs, or theater might miss out on these experiences, as many virtual schools don't offer these kinds of activities.


You may have to wait to hear back from a teacher

In a traditional classroom, students can often get immediate feedback or help. In a virtual environment, they might have to wait for email responses or scheduled virtual office hours.


You have no other social connections besides school

For students who rely solely on school for social development and peer interactions, a virtual high school might not provide the same friend-building experiences.


Read more: Must-Have Apps for High School Students


How do I enroll in a virtual high school?

To enroll in a virtual high school like Penn Foster, start by visiting their official website and selecting the high school diploma program that fits your goals. Complete the online enrollment application, providing personal details and any required educational history, such as transcripts. Finally, make your first tuition payment, and be prepared to attend an online orientation to familiarize yourself with the platform.


Read more: How to Choose an Online High School


Is virtual school good or bad?

Your experience is going to be different than anyone else’s. Ryan, a Penn Foster High School student, says, “This school is wonderful, and the ones that say the opposite may be better attending onsite classes instead of online. This is for self-motivated people that don’t require an instructor to be chasing them around.”


When it aligns with your learning style and life circumstances, virtual high school is good. However, a virtual high school might not be for everyone.


What are virtual classes like?

Christina Mesta, Penn Foster High School Graduate, says it best: "My favorite part was that even though I was at work, I could go onto my cell phone during my breaks and lunches, read my material, and test. I always had time. It has boosted my confidence a lot."


Virtual high school can be done anywhere, at any time, as long as you have wifi!


Is virtual learning good for high school students?

It depends on the individual. High school students are way more tech-savvy than ever, so tackling their classes entirely online may come easier to them. Here’s what Lauren, Class of 2020, says about virtual learning: “Penn Foster High School gave me my confidence back. My only regret is that I didn't know about it after I finished middle school.”


Does virtual high school sound like the right fit for you?

Are you self-disciplined, tech-savvy, and ready to take control of your education? Penn Foster High School offers virtual high schools for both school-age students and adult learners. Contact our Admissions Specialists at 1.888.427.6500 to learn more and start your high school journey!


Popular Posts