From campus visits to meeting students and teachers, a lot of hands-on research goes into choosing a private high school. But when you plan to attend your school online, you may need to think differently to properly vet the institution. Follow these 8 steps to make the most of your online high school tour:
Step 1: Visit the Virtual Campus
An online school’s website serves as its virtual campus. Through the content published there, you can gain a real sense of the school’s mission, values, and academic excellence. Use the website as your first point of entry to the institution. Visit every nook and cranny. Read the director’s welcome, review the programs, course catalog, and events. Check out the school’s leaders and faculty. Look for testimonials from current and former students. See if there is a FAQ section and note if any of your question are not answered there so you can follow up.
Step 2: Visit an Actual Campus
Even if you attend high school online, you might discover that your school has an affiliation with a private high school or college. Visit the physical school and get a feel for the on-campus experience. The best schools try to mirror what they provide on campus to their online students. There may even be an opportunity to participate in on-campus clubs and activities while you take online courses.
Step 3: Fill Out an Inquiry Form
One way an online high school gauges the interest of potential students is by having a form on their website that you can fill out. It’s your passageway to the school and the humans that work there. The responsiveness of that first interaction can tell you how passionate the people are about a school and its mission.
Step 4: Attend a Virtual Open House
Perhaps the only upside to the pandemic is that we’ve all adapted to attending meetings online. Find out if the school you are considering offers an online info session or open house so you can better get to know what it’s all about. Pay close attention and come ready with questions. Some of the topics you can expect to be covered should include:
- Enrollment Process
- ￼Instructional Methodology
- Assignments and Assessments
- Institutional Leadership
- Faculty Credentials
- Student Reviews
- College AcceptanceMicroschool Options
Step 5: Schedule a Call with an Admissions Counselor
Set up a time to speak directly with someone from the admissions team. Choose a time that works well for your schedule, so you’ll have adequate time to get all your questions answered. This will be your opportunity to dig deeply into what you are looking for and what the online institution might provide you. Be honest about your needs and expectations and any questions you may have that are giving you pause. Admissions counselors aren’t just there to sell you on the school; they want to make sure it’s the right fit for everyone who decides to attend.
Step 6: Connect with Instructors
Most online schools will list general information about their faculty or provide more in-depth bios for each teacher. Learn about the teachers online and then ask if you can connect with those whose specialties match your interests. Schedule some time to talk with them and ask about their teaching philosophy and why they chose teaching as a profession. Ask them if they like teaching online and whether they have any particular tricks to keep students engaged. Since an institution tries to attract similarly motivated and skilled teachers, touching base with even one instructor could give you a glimpse into the rest of the faculty.
Step 7: Connect with Current Students
See if you can meet with current or former students over the phone or on a video call. You can learn a lot about the school experience from people who have actually gone through it. Ask them what they liked and didn’t like. Find out what a typical day or week might be like at the school. This kind of call can give you a better idea of the culture and social aspects of a school. You might also feel more at ease speaking with a peer rather than an administrator, teacher, or admissions counselor.
Step 8: Ask About a One-on-One Interview
Before many private schools make an admissions decision, they will conduct an interview to make sure you will be a good fit for the school, and it for you. Selective online schools follow the same tradition. You may have the option of an in-person interview or one via video conference. The interview is the final stop on your online high school tour and where you get to show your enthusiasm for the school and why you should be admitted.
If you’re considering an online high school, take a look at all Gravitas has to offer. As an online extension of the prestigious Stony Brook School, we have a 100+ year history of academic excellence and rigor. We knew the landscape of education was changing and wanted to provide a diverse student body with the same extraordinary education that we offer on campus, but in an online format. More than an academic institution, we value character over career, and help all our students develop the qualities and integrity needed to become strong leaders. Start your application today.