Why You Should Take Online Classes During High School

high school student takes online classWhy not?  This new trend in college offerings is a win-win for a high school student who needs some reinforcement in a subject or a student who wants an extra challenge. I think the main thing to be aware of is that your online courses should not be allowed (by you) to compromise your high school GPA in any way, because your high school GPA is the number one factor that determines where you get into college, so do protect that. That said, there are many great reasons to consider this growing option for yourself.

Online classes for high school students are a great way for you to:

1. Get ahead
If your high school will give you credit, you can get ahead in high school by taking the required courses online at your own pace.  Or, you could get college credit for many online courses (the ones offered by colleges) and this will help you start out ahead when you get to college.  Be very aware that your GPA in an online college class counts toward your total college GPA, so be sure to do your very best.

2. Review material to strengthen your skills
Perhaps you did alright in Algebra II, but being able to go over the material again, with a teacher and at your own pace, might just help you out.  This is a great scenario for an online course.  You could learn material you may not have fully grasped the first time, strengthen material you sort of understood, and truly master concepts you nailed originally.  These are all great.  Think about this for Latin or World History…the list goes on.  There are so many subjects you could study and master!

3. Prepare for college
By taking an online course during high school, you are doing extra preparation to be ready for college level work.  Maybe your writing skills need strengthening, or your spelling, or maybe your knowledge of Biology.  If you have an idea of your weaknesses, and some idea of what you’d like to major in, you can bolster your weaknesses so that you can really succeed when you get to college. I think many students could benefit from an extra round of Chemistry, PreCalculus, or Chinese.

4. Redo or replace a course or grade 
If your high school will give you credit, you can often replace a course or grade where you did not do your best.  Maybe you or a family member became ill, or maybe your family moved and you ended up right in the middle of the toughest US History class of your life.  Whatever happened, you can talk with your school counselor and see if he or she might recommend an online course as a way for you to learn that material.  You always want to master the material from one year before you move on to the next because concepts build on one another and so a strong academic foundation will serve you in all future classes and for the rest of your life.

5. Explore subjects that are not currently available to you
Maybe your high school doesn’t offer a course in Applied Physics or Calligraphy or Marketing, but you could explore these interests online! There are so many fascinating subjects that you can learn about, and an online class is a great way to explore new topics and see where your academic interests really lie.

6. Get a taste of college curriculum 
Jumping into an entirely new living situation, class structure and sometimes location can be tough. Taking online classes can make the transition a bit easier by giving you an idea of what to expect class-wise when you get to college. You will have a better idea of what the work-load, teaching style and expectations will be like and so will have set yourself up to succeed.

Some colleges I know of that have online courses for high school students include: BYU, Northeastern University, University of Alabama, Oregon State University, North Dakota University System, and the University of Nebraska.  There are no doubt more; this is just what I have been able to find to date, and the trend is certainly growing. With so many colleges beginning to offer courses online, you can explore endless possibilities.  It is really an exciting time to be a student!



30 Responses

  1. Hello, I’m really curious about if I can take online schooling at home to catch up with my courses and get more credits and I really want to get my diploma this year. I am in grade 12 and this is my third year and I’m not doing good in all my classes and I really want to catch up and I really want to get my diploma this year. So is there any help that you can do for me please?

    1. Dear Zainab,

      I’m glad to see that you are so keen to finish school. This is excellent! Since you say that you are not doing well, we first need to identify why and try to fix that. Getting a high school diploma allows you to go to college, where you will be doing four more years of school, so having strong study skills will be important then, for your success, just as it is now.

      I can understand your desire to finish, but more importantly, you must finish well. You must really learn the material and actually know many facts and have gained many skills, like writing and mathematics.

      So I think you first need to identify what is currently not working, and set up solutions for those issues that you identify. Then you need to complete your current diploma with the help of your school. Perhaps they will allow you to do online classes.I do not know. But often online school can be more difficult as you are truly on your own. Some students do well at it. Others find it difficult.

      Talk with your school counselor to see what they advise and what they would approve, as your school needs to authorize any diploma you receive.

      Let me know how this goes!
      Stay in the fight. Education is our best hope for our future!


  2. Hi, So I’m in 9th grade (first year of high school) and I’m looking to advance my studies. I believe that education truly is the best hope for our future. I’m doing very well in school so I don’t mind if I don’t earn any credit I just want to learn more. How can I do this? Is online schooling a good idea?

    1. Hi Maddy! Online classes can be a great way for you to learn about all sorts of topics. Check out BYU’s online program, and Northeastern. Many colleges offer them, including Oxford in England. It’s a terrific way to learn! Best, Susanna

  3. Hi, so I’m in the 10th grade and I am doing well in school. I’m taking advanced classes and I’m even in 11th grade math. But I want to graduate a year early so I can be able to save up money to go to college as soon as possible. Are their any online school’s that offer credit and are free/affordable?

    1. Hi Alyssa! You can certainly take classes to get ahead in high school, but graduating from high school early will not enable you to save money, since high school is free. You can save money by doing dual enrollment with your local community college. Talk to your school counselor about this great option. Cheers, Susanna

  4. Hi! I’m in 10th grade and am struggling just a bit in school, but it’s less because of the difficulty of coursework and more so having to get up and go to school every day. I’ve been having to miss class due to my severe depression and anxiety, and don’t want to keep losing participation points/having to reschedule tests because I spend so much time at home. As the first semester is drawing to a close, is there any way for me to replace my second semester high school classes with online ones instead?

    1. Hello dear, First of all, I’m glad that you shared this with me. I’ve been working with teenagers for twenty five years now, and I want to urge you to talk to a trusted teacher at school about how you are feeling. Depression is not easy or fun to deal with, and no one can fight it alone. You need some support, likely from a therapist, and a plan, likely designed with you by a trained counselor. Anxiety can be vastly improved by drinking several liters of water each day and completely avoiding sugar and caffeine. These things can give you some relief, and you will need to exercise daily.

      But most importantly you need to talk to a trained counselor to identify why you are feeling this way. I am very sorry to hear that you are struggling. It is never fun to battle anxiety or depression.

      Also, talk with your school college counselor about what to do for your missed classes and how to possibly approach second semester. Share your struggles with her as well, so that your teachers can be aware. I was a teacher for ten years and it is very, very important that your teachers know what you are facing, so that they can support you and be understanding.

      Let me know how these meetings go. I urge you to reach out to these trusted people today. No one should have to face what you are facing alone.

      Love, Susanna

  5. Hi so I’m in tenth grade and I found that by next year I will have 20 out of the 24 credits required to graduate. I hope to study abroad my senior year and know I would need to somehow complete the other 4 before then because the study abroad program I want to study with does not usually transfer credits toward my graduation. What are some online home school sites I can take while at public school that would allow me to meet graduation requirements?

    1. Hi Gem, You will need to ask your school counselor which online programs your school will accept. try BYU. 🙂 Susanna

  6. hi, my name is Petra i’ve been doing online classes at home i’m done with all my 11th grade subjects except one and then i will be able to do my 12th grade subjects but today i called my counselor about why i haven’t received my other work and she told me that my teacher and the principal were talking about that i’m not pregnant so the principal is thinking about if i should do online or if i have to come back to school. which sadly at first i thought i was pregnant so i told them and they allowed me to do online but i’m not. So i don’t know if there’s another way i could still do online classes so i can be ahead on my work and i don’t want to go back to school. i don’t know if they can forbid me from still doing online classes i’ve been getting good grades.

    1. Hello dear Petra,

      First of all let me say, as the child of teenage parents, that I am glad for you that you are not pregnant. Being a mom at 16 was very tough for my mother because she had to grow up so quickly, which she did!, so I am relieved that you can still be a kiddo. That said, please practice safe sex in the future, so that you can prioritize your education, ok? I really want you to go to college or tech or trade school, and you will be a far better and stronger mom when you are educated, earning a stable living, and doing something that you find rewarding. I believe in you!

      Now, as to your question: I would make an appointment and go in and talk with your teacher and counselor at school and tell them politely and positively about how well you are doing and how much you are enjoying this method of schooling. Tell them that this method is proving to be very successful for you. Then, create a plan for how you will finish high school in this way and what you will do to apply to and enrol in college/higher ed. Go over your post-HS education plan with them and ask for their input, and reiterate that online schooling is really suiting your learning style and that you are excelling.

      I really hope this works out for you, dear Petra. Keep me posted.

      Love, Susanna

  7. Hello, My name is Natalia,
    I am currently a sophomore in high school. I am currently looking into classes that would help my major for high school (at my school we need to choose a major). I wanted to take more classes than I have room for and my state’s online schooling program is out of date and has not helped me in the past. I wanted to find an online program that I could take these classes on, then present it to my school with the prior knowledge I have on it. I don’t want to go to them with it, without knowing what I’m talking about. Anyway, I was wondering if you have any suggestions for what program I should use or what research and facts I should represent to my school, thank you.

    1. Hi Natalia! Most districts have a list of approved courses. In the absence of that, check out the Resources section of this website (my website) CollegeMapper. In Resources we have a list of Online Classes. Cheers, Susanna

  8. Hi! I am a junior in highschool with relatively good grades. But the problem is that I feel as if I am behind in my courses compared to others in my grade. For example many people have doubled up on math or science classes throughout highschool to where-as I have not until this year. I still feel like I’m behind though, so I thought maybe online classes could help that. But another problem with that is that I’m not yet sure what my post-HS plans are. I will probably attend college but I don’t know for what or where. Therefore, I’m not sure what classes to even take online or if I should even take any at all. Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Alexis!

      I think the first place to start is to consider your educational plans for after college, whether that means 4 year, 2 year, tech or trade school, or the military. You must have a plan. Take the brief quiz on Sokanu, a free website; this will help you identify possible majors. From there, I would say, talk to an admissions counselor at your target educational institution and ask what you need to be competitive–not what is the minimum, but what is strong. It is really not necessary to take online classes unless you are getting straight As at your school, are bored and need the challenge, have the extra time (who does??), and want to be competitive for places like Harvard, etc. It is REALLY rare that the vast majority of kids need online classes, so don’t be tempted to overload yourself for no reason. Protect your mental health and excel at what is available to you. Hope this helps! Yay, college! Susanna

  9. Hi , im currently a sophomore. My freshmen year I failed algebra 1, and now I am retaking the whole course as a sophomore instead of being in geometry. I was wondering if this program would allow me to take geometry online or Algebra 2 so I do not fall behind with my courses. Thank you !

    1. Hi Bianca! That is great that you are working hard and retaking Algebra 1. Well done! Ask your school counselor if there is a summer Geometry class you can take so that you can stay caught up with your grade. They may also have online options but you may need a tutor to help you with that, as some people love Geometry but some people find it confusing. Let me know if you have any other questions! Susanna

  10. Hi I’m Esmeralda. I’m in 9th Grade! I was just wondering if theres online schools that exist that allows you to replace some public school classes with online ones. For example, I want to do 4 classes online. And the other half in public school. Since my mom and dad leave for work. And we have no one to pick us up. Is it possible to switch some courses to online? I also wanna get ahead to finish required classes earlier. Thank you

    1. Hello Esmerelda! It’s lovely to hear from you. You can absolutely do HS courses online but only if your school counselor approves them first. Make an appointment and talk with your counselor to set up a four year course-plan for all of high school. She or he will tell you which online programs the school approves, and she or he will talk with you about which courses you could do online.

      There should be a bus system to get you home after school, since your parents work, so be sure to ask your counselor about that, too. And remember, the most important thing to do in high school is get as many A’s as possible. That is far more important than going quickly, so be sure to focus on doing really, really well. If you ever struggle, most public libraries offer homework help and tutoring of some sort, and teachers are always available after school to help you as well.

      Try to keep your GPA as high as you can, while still being healthy and happy–that’s the #1 priority. Your mental health and happiness are the most important. A high GPA prepares you well for college and helps you get into colleges, so prepare now and definitely set college as a goal. College is totally possible for you and very important!

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Yay, college!

  11. Hi. I’m curious if you have an opinion one way or the other about a Highschool student taking virtual class that is also available in their school. My daughter took Bio honors virtually for scheduling purposes. She is concerned it looks bad to college admissions since it may appear ‘easier’. Can you please advise?

    1. Hi! If her counselor approved the course and it is going on her transcript, it looks just the same. Lab classes done online don’t look great in my opinion. If it’s a separate transcript that you guys have to send to the colleges, then your daughter may be correct. Hope this helps! Susanna

  12. My son is in 10th grade but is on track to graduate next year as a junior. He attends private school and was approved to take 2 study halls this year that would allow him to take on line courses to obtain the credits he needs to graduate early. That said, I have no idea where to begin! He needs to take Govt and Economics this first semester and health +1 next semester. I am having a hard time finding an ACSI accredited on line school that will allow him to just take those courses. Can anyone make a suggestion????

    1. Hi Stephanie, We have a list of accredited online programs in our resources section, but your son’s high school should have their own list of approved places since they need to approve any class that goes on his transcript. I would start by asking them. Best, Susanna

  13. Hi, I need to get an algebra II class done and a biology course in order to go to a certain school for junior and senior year. Do you have any website suggestions?

    1. Hi Gwyn! Most schools have a list of approved courses that they will accept, so ask your counselor first before you spend any money or time. You can also check out the Resources section of this website (my website) CollegeMapper. In Resources we have a list of Online Classes, with places like BYU, Northeastern U, Oxford U, and Stanford Online High School having many offerings. Cheers, Susanna

  14. Hi, I’m a sophomore in high school and I was wondering if I could take any college classes online like GE’s or anything can help me for college or is it too early.

    1. Hi Jocelyn! It’s not too early, but above all else, PROTECT your actual high school GPA and get it as high as possible. If you can take extra classes past that and do very well on them, then sure, go ahead, if you want to challenge yourself. 🙂 . Susanna

  15. Hi, Im a Freshman in high school and I was wondering if taking harder college courses, because the school I am at right now doesn’t offer freshman AP classes, would help with my college application? I know having hard classes with good grades is important and I want to be able to take harder classes. I am in one honors class right now but I don’t think that is enough. And I have high A’s in all my classes. Thanks!

    1. Hi Jessica!

      No high schools offer AP courses for freshmen really, so you’re fine by taking the most challenging classes your school does offer. You won’t be penalized.

      You *can* take classes at a college, but be VERY careful because you would need to get As, as a college transcript is a very serious document that follows you throughout your entire academic career, and college classes are MUCH tougher than high school classes.

      Hope this helps! Download my phone app to get advice about everything you can be doing in 9th grade to strengthen your app. app.collegemapper.com

      Yay, college!

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