The AP textbook hits the ground with a thud. All of my homework is complete… or so I think, until I look at my calendar and realize if I want to remain on schedule, I need to complete a lesson for one of the classes I’m taking via correspondence. All I really want to do is sleep, but I grab my anthropology book and start working.
Online classes became an opportunity for me to graduate early. I started taking high school classes in eighth grade. My school district was trying for find an alternative to allowing students to skip grades when I was in eighth grade and three students (including myself) were given half-grade accelerations, where we took half of our classes at the high school as freshmen and half at the middle school as eighth graders. However, the district didn’t realize that the acceleration would cause problems down the line with class scheduling and credit requirements. Also, for some reason, these high school classes didn’t count for credits. There was no way for me to graduate with the class of students I had been with since eighth grade unless I took an extra 2.5 credits. That amount of credits is equal to five one-semester classes at my school. The idea seemed overwhelming. How was I going to manage seven classes with my extracurriculars and take five extra classes online? However, after some careful thought, I realized the benefits were huge and it just meant I had to manage my time even more carefully. So what was I to do? Find out where I could take these classes and sign up!
Most students at my school don’t take online classes and, instead dual-enrolling at the local community college during their senior year. Some graduate a semester early, but no one has graduated an entire year early. I checked when I met with my guidance counselor and we looked over the viewbook that my state university’s high school sends out with the course listings. I wanted to take classes I was interested in, that met graduation requirements, and that seemed like they would help me grow intellectually. I also talked with both of my parents and we started with a list of fifteen classes, which we narrowed to ten, and then narrowed down again to the list of the five I would take. I am now taking classes in world religions, anthropology, mass media, news writing, and cave science.
Before I signed up for online classes, I worried whether my credits would be accepted as high school credit when I applied to colleges. I checked with my guidance counselor, my online school, and a few colleges to make sure they would be. Now, I’m taking my classes through my state university’s online high school. I can email my teachers, who teach at high schools around my state, and get feedback on my assignments. This communication between my teachers helps me even more, especially when I have to complete projects.
Taking seven classes at school and five extra ones online can be tough sometimes. I have to complete homework and lessons, take midterms, and pass the final. I have to pass all the tests to pass the class, so there is no such thing as bombing as test. I have to do this on top of all of my traditional school homework and test preparation. My grades in the classes I take online also appear on the transcript I will send to colleges. No pressure, right?
The reason I like my classes is I have so many more options. I can choose what interests me and go more in depth with subjects I love. Instead of suffering through another year of chemistry, I can take courses in cave formation and exploration. It’s also nice to be able to complete my lessons wherever I want. As long as I have my laptop with me, I’m ready to learn, even when I’m in a car or on my front porch.
I love the opportunities that online education has offered me. It’s exciting when these classes begin to build on what I’m learning in regular school and give me deeper understanding of different subjects. I definitely plan on taking more classes during my senior year – just not too many. I have to sleep sometime!