Hi, I’m Amanda! You may remember me from my student spotlight: My Return to VHS. I was asked to share more about my experience as an online student to give you a better idea of what it’s like, or at least what it was like for me. Usually I was working on four courses at a time, just as if I were in a bricks-and-mortar high school. But unlike a bricks-and-mortar school, I did not work for a set amount of time each day. Sometimes I would spend the whole day on English, and on another I would bounce among all four, depending on how focused I was or what I felt motivated to do. I was heavily involved in figure skating during my high school years, both as a competitor and a coach, so below is an example of what a typical day was like for me.
My Typical Monday:
6:00 a.m.–8:00 a.m. ➞ Skating
9:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m. ➞ Read content for English
10:30 a.m.–10:45 a.m. ➞ Break (usually a walk outside, catching up with friends, etc.)
10:45 a.m.–12:00 p.m. ➞ Begin brainstorming and do preliminary research for English assignment
12:00 p.m.–12:30 p.m. ➞ Lunch
12:30 p.m.–3:30 p.m. ➞ Read content for math, work through exercises, start a math assignment
4:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. ➞ Skating and coaching
A common question I would get was, “Do you spend a lot of time in front of the computer to do the courses?” The answer is yes. VHS is an online school, after all, and all of the material and most of the research and assignments have to be done on a computer. That does not mean that you are chained to a desk, however. I took notes by hand so that I wasn’t always typing or looking at a screen, and I wrote out my math, too, for the same reason. I often went to the library to find encyclopedias for my research and books for my English courses. The science courses prompt you to physically do some of the experiments which means going out to get materials and then being outside to do the lab. Courses like phys. ed. and art have components that require you to move and be away from your computer, both to be active and creative.
For all of my courses I had to interact with other people – it is not just you and the computer screen. Be it emailing the teacher for help on a question, asking the advice of other adults and students, interviewing people for an assignment, studying with someone for a test, or having someone look over an essay, I had a wide circle of people supporting me every day.
The best part of VHS, though, was the flexibility to not have a routine. I didn’t have to be at my computer every day. My schooling wasn’t interrupted by my skating competitions, which might take 2–3 days when I wasn’t working on school. On a nice winter day, I could spontaneously go skiing with my dad and not have to get caught up. Virtual High School lets you be as active as you would like to be outside school, and the courses incorporate activities as often as possible that require you to step away from the screen as well.
I participated in an interview with another virtual student and Mary Jo Madda of EdSurge about what virtual schooling is like. Read or listen here: From the Mouths of Virtual School Students—Personalized and Flexible, or Over-Hyped and Isolating? We discuss why we chose online schooling, what we liked and disliked about it, our social lives, and why online learning was the right choice for us.
Thanks for reading!
Amanda is a graduate of Virtual High School. She returned to VHS to complete her alternative practicum for her Bachelor of Education in 2017. Amanda again returned to VHS for the summer of 2017 to assist with course development before beginning her graduate studies that fall.