Emily Little

Online class option good, but not easy

As an extremely busy student, I put a lot of my focus on getting into college. Part of the process of being a competitive college applicant is having as many academic credits as possible. However, with the tight-packed schedule I already have at my school, an alternative form of learning has become a viable option - virtual school.

All across the country, students have turned towards online schooling to supplement classes that are not available at their actual campus or to get them ahead on their education track. For example, Sebring High School requires a full year of physical education for graduation. However, I knew that a P.E. class would be a struggle to fit into the heavy loaded schedule of academics I had planned. This led me to my next best option, taking the course online.

When I tell people I took gym online, they usually laugh and ask me, "How?" I simply tell them it was a lot of nutritional and health based information - and one of the best decisions I've ever made. Taking P.E. online allowed me to free up an extra elective period, which I could use to take something more useful.

Online classes seem to have the stereotype of being easy to simply coast through. With my experiences with virtual school, this was not the case. The first virtual course I ever attempted was Spanish I in the sixth grade. At the time, the course format had a lot of issues and glitches, which did nothing but overwhelm my 11-year-old perfectionist self. After about a week of trial and a lot of error, I decided to give up on my first online education endeavor. I could be taken out of the class in my two-week grace period with no penalty to my grade, and I was overjoyed.

Given my first experience with virtual classes, I was nervous to try the process again. However, the second class went extremely well, as did the third, which made me want to continue online classes. As I said before, however, even the classes I have been successful in were no piece of cake. Online classes require just as much work as a physical class, if not a little more. For a virtual school class, students must make calls to their teachers, take tests, do projects and teach themselves the lessons.

Next semester I will be starting my next online class, an honors marine science course. I knew I wanted to take an online course next semester to make my schedule fit better, but I had a hard time deciding which one. When I learned that marine science would count as an academic credit on college applications, my choice narrowed quickly.

Looking through the course description and syllabus, some of the topics actually sounded interesting. I have never taken an online class on a subject I could see myself enjoying, so hopefully this will be a fresh change. When I took my P.E. classes, I dreaded logging on each time. I am much more likely to be motivated to work on a class that sounds fun as opposed to a class that I have to take.

Online classes definitely have a lot of pros and cons. However, when used for the purpose of getting ahead in school, the positives highly outweigh the negatives for me. It amazes me to think how much technology is involved in today's education, from laptops to iPads to virtual classes. As a society, we have evolved from scanning through books on a library shelf to scanning through search engine results. Virtual school is only one piece of our new technological age, and certainly of the more useful pieces.