Traditional In-School Classes Are More Beneficial to Students than Online School Classes

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The other morning, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about school when I was caught off guard with a statement that agitated me. I told her I had been slightly enjoying school since we started, when she proceeded to say, “Yeah, I would like school too if I only went for one class every day.” With this, I immediately shut down, grabbed my stuff and walked away.

For the past four years, I’ve been enrolled as a part-time student at Rolling Meadows High School, taking the rest of my classes through Indiana University High School, an online school program. This has been beneficial to my schedule and lifestyle to fit around my figure skating training. It would be next to impossible for me to balance a full-time school schedule and a figure skating training schedule that would still allow me to be successful in both.

This is where online school comes into play. With an online school program, students can work at their own pace with their own schedules. They can get ahead in their schoolwork, but also fall behind without any punishment. Knowing this flexible style of work, it is easy for people to jump to the conclusion that taking online classes is easier and “better” than traditional brick-and-mortar classes. However, online school takes an insane amount of motivation, self-discipline and responsibility. It’s not as easy and laid-back as it looks.

With traditional in-school classes, teachers will assign a due date for an assignment and if you fail to complete this assignment in time, it will result in a poor grade. In opposition to this, most online schools have no due dates for assignments. Since everything is on the student’s time, it becomes easy to blow off assignment after assignment without any sort of consequence. This leads students to fall behind in their work. Additionally, there is no pressure for online students to complete a task in a certain amount of time, leaving them likely more unprepared for future careers and occupations. 

Master’s student Sarah Schultz of Dordt University conducted a study to compare and contrast ACT scores between online and traditional school students. Though both these groups of students had an overall similar performance on the entire exam, data conveyed that students in the traditional setting performed better than online students in the math portion. This can come as a result of more opportunities for hands-on learning and communications with a teacher. In a classroom setting, there is a better opportunity to reach out to a teacher for assistance, in which they can explain a problem or concept with more of a hands-on learning style.

A classroom setting can also allow students the ability to interact with other students and peers. This opens up the opportunity for interactive learning, especially when learning another language. Additionally, being in more of a social aspect when learning can help combat the solitude and setbacks of learning on your own. 

While online school is a great opportunity for someone with a busy schedule to fit schoolwork into their own time, traditional in-school classrooms are more beneficial to the learning and development of students. From my personal experiences, I believe taking classes in an actual classroom is more effective for learning because of additional people available to help with the motivational process. It is easier for students to reach out for help and to stay on task when all the resources are in one place.  Online school does offer flexibility, however, with this comes a trade-off for self-motivation and intense discipline.

With the recent comment from my friend and several other people claiming that I’m lucky to only go to school for one class a day, I don’t think people see the perspective of how fortunate they are to have immediate help from teachers, interactions with friends and peers and a classroom setting to keep them motivated. While I did choose a life where I sacrifice in-class time for figure skating training and am grateful for this decision, I wish in the last four years that I had the opportunity to have taken classes full time at RMHS.

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