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Online Schools vs Traditional Schools: How They Differ

November 19, 2021

It took a global pandemic for many people to understand the value and benefits of online schools — at both the college and the high school level. 

When you envision your high school student, what type of learning environment do you see? 

If you picture your student in a classroom, seated near other students, then you may be imagining a traditional learning environment. 

However, if you like the idea of flexibility in terms of learning location, then online high school may be the right choice for your family.

What is online high school like? How does it differ from a traditional, brick and mortar school? What are the differences in the two types of instructional models?

By The Numbers
More students are attending online high school than ever before. 

In the fall of 2020, 48.1 million students attended U.S. K-12 public schools. Because of the pandemic, by February, 2021, 43 percent of these students were enrolled in remote instruction. 

Many of those high school students were surprised to discover they preferred online learning to traditional school settings, and started looking for online schools. Still, online schools will differ in terms of how much they resemble a traditional school.

When exploring schools, it is wise to consider three factors before making your decision: 

  • Flexibility 
  • Social opportunities 
  • Strong community environment

This is a key factor for many families. 

Traditional brick and mortar schools fit well with families who are settled in one town, with activities nearby. 

Some students, however, are required to travel to different states or countries in order to seriously pursue performing arts or a sport. Alternatively,  it may be that parents’ professional careers or family situations require frequent or distant travel. 

Either way, online high schools present an exciting option in providing families the flexibility they need to maximize their daily schedules, and work and study while pursuing passions. 

Though no online school is exactly the same, enrollment in an online high school means that students can complete coursework on a routine that may work better for them.  

A tennis star at Dwight Global Online School, for example, may prefer to start their day with a long run and start classes later in the morning. A singer or actor may need to complete their coursework first thing in the day, to rehearse later in the afternoon or evening. Other students use the flexibility to join online classes from various locations around the world. 

For many, online education means increased flexibility with no learning time lost. Online high schools allow students to proceed with coursework in the ways that work best for them.

Social Opportunities 
Social development plays a significant role in the high school experience. Both traditional schools and online schools offer face-to-face interaction with peers and teachers, with online schools providing that interaction virtually. 

Online schools differ in terms of the social opportunities they provide. When seeking an online high school, be sure to check for live classroom and extracurricular experiences. 

Students and teachers at the best online schools meet regularly for virtual discussions and extra-curricular activities, allowing strong relationships to form. Some online schools, like Dwight Global Online School, which is connected to The Dwight Schools worldwide, also provide in-person opportunities throughout the year. This hybrid approach is ideal for creating student-teacher and teacher-teacher relationships.

Strong Community Environment
Finally, look for a warm, caring, and strong school environment, and one that offers a true community. These elements are crucial for optimal learning, no matter which educational model you choose. 

Dwight Global Online School is known for its positive, caring environment, with a vibrant student life program, and experienced faculty who have deep experience with online education. 

Want to know more? Learn details about the personalized online programs available at Dwight Global here.