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8 Criteria to Compare Online High Schools

If you’re finding it difficult to compare online high schools side by side, these 8 characteristics should help you ask the right questions.
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Choosing the right online high school for your child is an important decision that can impact on their learning. With more online high school options becoming available, it can make your decision harder, especially because online high schools differ quite significantly. 

The most important lens to take on this decision is to consider what is most important to you, your child and your family. However, it can be helpful to have a framework for comparison. In this blog post, we explore 8 criteria that you should consider in looking at different online high school options. 

1. What is the language of instruction?

Most locally-based online high schools offer their teaching in English, but some schools also provide programs in Afrikaans, leading to the South African National Senior Certificate. Consider the language of instruction that best suits your child's needs.

2. How much flexibility does the school offer?

Online learning offers varying levels of flexibility in terms of study timetables. Some schools follow a traditional brick-and-mortar model with fixed daily timetables and live online classes (synchronous learning). Others provide maximum flexibility with pre-recorded classes available on demand (asynchronous learning). Assess your child's preferred learning style and choose a school that aligns with their needs.

3. What is the learning model?

Determine the learning model offered by each online high school. Do they offer recognized and accredited qualifications? Some schools provide programs leading to the South African National Senior Certificate or international qualifications such as GCSEs, A-levels, and the US GED test. Additionally, consider the availability of learning materials such as live online classes, recordings, pre-recorded videos, and textbooks.

4. How interactive is the mode of delivery?

Active engagement is essential for effective learning. This can include real-time classes, small group sessions, focused sessions with tutors, topic-specific sessions, gamification, and Q&A opportunities in discussion forums.

5. What extra-curriculars are on offer?

Education goes beyond academics. Evaluate the range of extra-curricular activities offered by each online high school. These activities provide opportunities for students to develop interests, skills, and social connections. Consider whether the school offers online clubs, societies, and partnerships with external organisations for additional activities.

6. Does the school offer student support?

High school can be challenging for many students, so it's crucial to ensure that online schools provide adequate support services. Look for schools that offer psychological and social support services to address student well-being. Consider whether the school prioritises student wellness and provides resources for physical and psychological health.

7. How does the school interface with parents?

Parental involvement is crucial in online learning. Evaluate the communication channels between the school and parents. Look for schools that provide regular and accurate progress reports. Additionally, assess whether schools offer tools and platforms that allow parents to monitor their child's progress and intervene when necessary.

8. Is the school affordable, and does it offer value for money?

Cost is an important factor to consider when comparing online high schools. Evaluate the program fees, additional charges (e.g., registration, placement fees, tutorial support), and potential extra costs such as textbooks. Some schools provide an "annual cost of study" measure to facilitate comparison. Verify the fees and costs with the school directly, as they may be subject to change.

Making the right choice

Remember to consider your child's specific needs, preferences, and goals when comparing online high schools. Each criterion outlined above plays a significant role in determining the best fit for your child's educational journey. Take the time to thoroughly research and evaluate each school to make an informed decision that will set your child up for success. 

If you would like to take a deeper dive on online high schools and how they compare, you can download our 12 Leading Online Schools Compared guide here. You can also reach out to one of our Admissions Consultants for general advice or insights on what online learning can do for you and your child.

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