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The term “virtual high school” sounds futuristic and mysterious, but it’s really only another name for online school. Students and their parents typically choose this relatively new educational style because of its flexibility and convenience. Virtual schools are frequently regarded as the descendants of correspondence schools (better known as distance learning schools), where students and teachers are in different locations, but communicate via Skype, email, or instant messaging.

How is Virtual High School Different?

Virtual high schools use similar methods as correspondence schools, particularly in terms of mostly independent learning on the student’s part. Students are able to contact their instructors over email, phone, and instant messaging, but Skype is less commonly used in virtual high schools. There are a few different instructional models that these types of schools use, the most popular of which include asynchronous (independent, self-paced) courses and synchronous (teacher-facilitated, semester-based) courses.

Cost of Virtual High School

The cost of attending a virtual high school can vary. Some of these kinds of schools are free because the state pays for the student’s courses, but others can be very costly for the student’s family. Full-time, private virtual high schools are the most expensive. Some physical high schools actually offer some virtual courses within their school, where students sit in a computer lab and complete their courses online while at school. These courses, if chartered by a public school, are free for students attending that school.

Advantages of Virtual High School

There are certain advantages of attending virtual high school, including not being required to travel every day, the ability for students to stay in school when physical schools won’t accept them (due to excessive absences, behavior problems, etc.), and schedule flexibility. If students have jobs or families to take care of, they can set their own school schedule to fit their individual needs.

Disadvantages of Virtual High School

There is one major disadvantage to this kind of schooling, though: Since the students attend online and don’t interact with anyone face-to-face, they may develop a lack of socialization, which can lead to communication issues and deficient social skills if the student doesn’t have another social outlet.

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