Many people look back fondly at the years they spent in high school reminiscing about football games, school dances, lasting friendships, and joining after-school clubs. But just as many adults realize that those high school memories were anything but pleasant. From not fitting in to peer pressure, struggling to keep up in class, and getting bullied by their peers, the traditional school environment simply doesn’t work for everyone.
While many students enjoy the high school experience, others simply bide their time and exist, waiting for the the day they can make their own decisions, while others feel school is just too much to handle and drop out of school altogether.
Students who drop out of school fail to realize that this decision will probably affect them for the rest of their lives. Not having a high school diploma makes it far less likely that a student will ever attend higher education, build a successful career, or enjoy financial security in adulthood. In fact, years of getting overlooked in the job market, earning lower pay, and struggling to make ends meet is what usually awaits someone who doesn’t earn their high school diploma.
Many of the reasons kids drop out of high school, such as not liking school, not feeling safe, bullying, not fitting in, caring for family members, and needing to support their family financially, can be remedied by an alternative education program. Yet strangely enough, 75% of high school dropouts never attend any type of alternative school or program before they drop out.
Can school counselors better prepare these students by ensuring they are aware of all alternative forms of education? For instance, virtual schools can better meet the needs of some students who are being bullied or who need to be at home taking care of a family member. Before students drop out, having a list of alternative ways to graduate may help reduce dropout rates.
Virtual schools are a great educational alternative for students who are considering dropping out of school. Virtual schools provide an excellent education and can offer an environment free of the many distractions that often prevents the student from learning.
Virtual schools eliminate:
- The socio-economic pressures of keeping up with the latest fads and fashions
- The need for childcare for teen parents
- Peer pressure to participate in dangerous activities like drinking and trying drugs
- School violence
Virtual schools provide a learning environment where teachers and students work together in a live virtual classroom so problem solving, projects and general educational materials are presented and reviewed. Tests and assessments are an important part of virtual education, similar to the traditional educational mode. Virtual schools are able to blend a live virtual classroom with some self-study/on-demand programs so students can better utilize their time for studying and preparing. These blended capabilities also provide an opportunity for students to hold a part time job if they need to help support their family. It also offers a safe and effective education for those students who have to help take care of family members. Virtual schools remove the violence, bullying and pressure to use drugs or alcohol so these students are now in a safer environment.
Students graduate form virtual schools so there’s no stigma of dropping out or finishing their education via a GED. The focus of our school systems should be getting all students to graduate so school counselors should be providing virtual school information as an option for students they feel is on the verge of dropping out.
Offering students this effective alternative, before they drop out of school, can eliminate many of the obstacles standing in their way of earning a high school diploma which ultimately ensures they have a better opportunity to find gainful employment or go to college. Either way, virtual schools can level the playing field for these students.