Nov 5, 2021 |

What Does a Rigorous Online High School Curriculum Look Like?

By Gravitas

high school teacher

Not all high school curriculums are created equal. To get the most out of high school and be well prepared for college, it is important to embrace the challenge of a rigorous curriculum. Think of it as a challenge worth taking, and one that will lead to a lifetime of benefits. The overall format of a rigorous curriculum (including number of courses, and time length of each) can vary; what matters most is variety, quality, the comprehensive nature of the coursework, and how it will help you reach your future goals.

Variety in the Online High School Curriculum

Any sound curriculum should include a broad range of courses in English, history, math, science, and languages. But rigorous programs take course selection a step further including deeper study of the humanities, philosophy, and theology. The rigorous curriculum prepares you for college and life after and has relevancy to both.

Across the board, courses should contain a healthy mix of honors, AP Prep, and the opportunity for dual-credit college courses. The closer these courses resemble the demands of college, the better. As grade levels progress, so should the challenge and structure of the courses. And offerings should go beyond the traditional reading, writing, arithmetic, even at their most advanced levels. Some examples of 21st century courses you should look for include computer programming, graphic design, animation, and robotics. These courses don’t just prepare you to think more critically; they give you early experience and the seeds of knowledge that might hint to a future career. They also challenge you to learn skills that will prepare you for a constantly evolving world where entirely new fields seem to arise every few years. Look for courses and programs that will allow you to learn and better hone your individual interests and passions. Seek out opportunities to question the status quo of the world, while also looking deep within yourself to consider what you need to reach your potential and flourish in life.

Quality and Comprehensiveness of the Online High School Curriculum

You cannot consider any curriculum without looking at the institution and the men and women who teach there. Your instructors should be knowledgeable about the subject matter they teach with a strong desire to impart their wisdom unto you. And whether they teach science or philosophy, they should help you build upon existing knowledge, while always guiding you to the next level. For example, while you may have already been introduced to research methods in middle school, at the high school level, you’ll be asked to delve more deeply and perform more sophisticated analyses of what you read.

The means of instruction should also offer enough variety to touch upon multiple intelligences. Whether you consider yourself an auditory or visual learner, you should be able to learn well. Your instructor can ensure your understanding by tapping into resources such as lectures and videos by renowned educators and professionals.

The curriculum should also interconnect across disciplines. For example, if you study an era in history, it should expand well beyond names and dates and include the literature of the time, the philosophers who made their mark, and the new concepts that were being developed in math and science. A quality curriculum must include such classics as Shakespearean literature, while also embracing modern technology and cutting-edge science.

Online High School Evaluation Methods

Expectations of how success will be defined should be clearly outlined from the beginning. Examinations and evaluations should be more than just tests and quizzes. Oral assessments, term papers, and hands-on demonstrations can help evaluate your understanding of what you have been taught. And there should be sufficient measurements along your academic journey to highlight your strengths and ensure you get support in areas where you may need more time to comprehend a particular lesson. You can succeed with a rigorous curriculum as long as you’re sufficiently prepared and supported.


Gravitas is an online college preparatory school that is an extension of The Stony Brook School in New York. Backed by over 100 years of prep school excellence, Gravitas was built to provide the same trusted experience in an online format. We offer a flexible and rigorous academic curriculum that will better help you succeed in college and life beyond. Browse our course catalog now to learn more about the Gravitas curriculum.

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