No matter where a student comes from–whether an online high school or a traditional, physical high school–a student who wants to go to college would strive for it. However, these are different kinds of schools, and colleges especially would know that. While it is nowhere near impossible for a student who got their secondary education through online high school to join an accredited college, there are a new set of problems and expectations that they would have to surpass and meet to land that application.
How do colleges view online high schools, and how would that affect your chances of getting into a good college? We are here to answer these questions for you.
Online School vs. Traditional High School
Online schools have key differences from traditional high schools. In an online high school, a student’s classes, subjects, and materials are taken digitally via a computer or phone. While some traditional schools may have online classes (especially after COVID-19 has made social interaction more complicated), online high schools expect students to answer questions online and are expected to scan and/or print their assignments.
Online high schools offer students who cannot attend, afford, or regularly arrive at local traditional schools and parents who prefer their kids to be home-schooled a way to learn and study. In an online school, students can stay at home and never have to leave to listen to a lecture or do schoolwork. However, their home and school are effectively the same, with all of the anxieties and issues that arise as a result. Online high schools offer a greater degree of immersion but lead to fewer opportunities to socialize with other students, such as extracurricular activities or socializing with other students, which colleges will have you do.
As we’ve stated before, traditional high schools have taken to having online courses or material done online for students to submit. Hence, the concept of a school that isn’t on a physical campus is not an impossible idea for college admissions. However, the general format of an online school may still serve as an obstacle for any student to enter college.
What Do Colleges Think About Online High School?
College counselors and admissions are fully aware of online high schools. When it comes to having the basic technical credentials to apply, an online high school is no different from a traditional high school; you need a good grade and a working transcript. However, there is far more to a college application than simply having a transcript.
Few colleges will reject a willing applicant on the simple notion that they are from an online school. Colleges may also have their own online classes, so even if the format could be a problem, it likely will not. However, most colleges and universities are primarily physical schools with physical classes, and students who come from online high schools are relatively uncommon. There comes with such a background a different set of expectations from the traditional high school student, expectations that a student would have to meet to get their college application looked at.
Colleges want students who are organized, prepared, able to communicate well, and disciplined enough in a school setting. These qualities are present in an online high school student, but the expectations may differ.
How Does Online School Affect College Application?
A student is a student; what colleges are looking for is not where you completed your classes but rather how well you did them and what kind of student you are when you have done them.
The only thing that matters to colleges regarding what school a student comes from is prestige. Like traditional schools, there are exceptionally accredited and less-than-accredited online high schools. The best online high schools are up there with some of the best traditional high schools.
Your experience in one high school does, however, affects qualities that college admission officers are looking for.
What Do College Admission Officers Look For?
Every student should keep note of two critical aspects of their school experience that college admission observes in a college application. Colleges want to know if a student has both academic and social readiness.
Academic readiness includes the quality of your scores on exams such as the SAT and ACT and if you completed Advanced Placement. Recommendations from teachers are also a significant factor in whether your application passes.
Meanwhile, social readiness measures your performance outside of school:
- Extracurricular activities you’ve engaged in
- Volunteer work
- Recommendations from friends and companions
As an online high school student, proving your academic readiness is relatively simple and indistinguishable from how a student from a traditional high school prepares their readiness. Taking an online or physical class is acceptable enough for most colleges, so long as you have the academic prowess to enter a college.
It is social readiness that becomes a significant hurdle. Online high school students stay at home to complete their classes with little incentive to go out and interact with other students. Socializing with traditional high school students is possible but very uncommon. However, an online school can hold events or allow students to interact via chat. Additionally, with all the extra time a student has not needing to travel to school, they can spend that time working a job or engaging with the nearby events in town, which can contribute to a more appealing application.
To fully understand how an online high school affects your college application, we will list the pros and cons of graduating from an online high school.
Pros and Cons of Graduating from an Online High School
Like many things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to graduating from an online high school. Such an accomplishment is neither a dealbreaker for a college nor a status that would make Harvard or Yale fall over themselves to have you apply.
When you understand where you have an advantage and what disadvantages you must make up for, you can make the perfect college admission! A curious student must know and balance these pros and cons.
What are the advantages?
One advantage to online high school is that you have a much better balance between life and school, learning and studying from your own home at your own pace.
Contacting and working with your teachers and other faculty is much easier if they are easily and readily available through email, video, or text messaging. From here, you can build a network of teachers who can personally give you a recommendation for any college you apply to.
Online high schools also allow you to focus on the particular subjects you want and better prepare you for the future life of a college freshman. Some schools even offer dual enrollment or get students hooked on college freshman-level subjects early.
Are there any cons?
As we stated before, due to the impersonal method of interaction between students, a graduate from an online high school may be less accustomed to working with groups of students and other people, especially in person. They are less accustomed to working in a physical space, and the sort of discipline needed is very different compared to the discipline one would get by learning from behind a computer screen.
While this is not common, it is also possible that a college may only accept a transcript from an online school if it is accredited, or the school may not provide a transcript at all. A scenario like this is a particularly damaging outcome for students that studied their entire high school life in these schools, though thankfully, it is not unsalvageable.
Wrapping Things Up: How Do Colleges View Online High Schools?
How do colleges view online high schools? Colleges view online high schools as no different from traditional high schools. Graduating from an online high school has advantages and disadvantages, as do traditional schools. It is not about the school, but how the school shaped you as a student. If you are worried about how your background affects your college application, don’t let it interfere with getting into your dream college!