Unlike most students, my formal education growing up was not in a traditional brick-and-mortar school. That’s right! I didn’t experience school bus rides, study hall sessions, cafeteria lines, recess, or snow days. In fact, I never really encountered what most students went through growing up academically. Instead, I was traditionally homeschooled from preschool through 3rd grade. Then, my family enrolled me in an online public school called the Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA) for 10 years after that.
Online education is definitely not for everyone, but it was the perfect fit for me and my family. I’ve had plenty of friends, family, and strangers who were solid advocates for traditional schooling methods question this alternative. Nevertheless, I still graduated with a cumulative 4.0 GPA and ranked 5th from my senior class of over 800 other virtually-educated students. There were (and still are) a number of lies I’ve faced about online schooling that I can disprove from my personal experience.
Lie #1: You are antisocial. I may be quiet at times, but I am far from antisocial. In OHVA, there were a number of face-to-face events (dances, picnics, bowling outings, etc.) that I could easily befriend other students. I formed a good circle of friends during my high school years that I wouldn’t have traded for the world. Don’t let my quite nature fool you. I am very approachable and personable. 🙂
Lie #2 : Online school is a joke. Actually, I learned and experienced more about independence, responsibility, integrity, and self motivation being virtually educated than I would have otherwise. I didn’t have my parents or teachers right by my side telling me to complete my work. So, if I wanted to make good grades, I had to read the material, reach out to teachers with questions via email or phone, and promptly turn in assignments electronically. Even at college, I still apply the study skills I’ve acquired through OHVA, which seem to be serving me well.
Lie #3: You are not well-rounded. Outside of my academics, I was involved with 4-H, choir, pageantry, youth group, ballet, jazz, swim lessons, and art classes. Within OHVA, I was in the National Honor Society, math club, student council, and the school newspaper*. You’d be surprised about how much you can do when you’re virtually educated!
Lie #4: You are not ready for the “real world”. The skills I’ve formed through my studies combined with my involvement in extracurricular activities has made me very well-rounded and enthusiastic about learning. When beginning freshman year of college, I made an effort to jump right into student life and meet other people. To this day, I have excelled academically, formed friendships that will last a lifetime, and continue to grow as a leader in several student organizations.
Really, online education is what you make of it. If you are going to be a couch potato, and not turn in assignments, the fault is yours. This is one reason online education is not for everyone because some people need the motivation and structure from traditional school systems to do well academically.
*DISCLAIMER: Not all online schools are as well-established as the Ohio Virtual Academy. I was fortunate to be enrolled through a school that provided extracurricular activities and honor societies, but I cannot guarantee those opportunities for all other virtual systems.