Alternate Routes to High School Success
Is high school holding your ambitious student back? There are alternatives.
By GreatSchools Staff
Does your teenager feel hampered by the limited educational opportunities at your high school? Does she have trouble fitting in? There are alternatives.
Independent study, college or online courses, virtual high schools and special summer programs are just some of the ways to engage your restless high school student.
Does your teenager have a burning desire to study psychology, women's authors or computer science? Many high schools will allow students to pursue independent study for high school credit.
At Berkeley High School in California, for example, independent study is an option for any student. Tali Biale, now 21 years old and a student at Wesleyan University, followed an independent study program during her senior year at Berkeley High. She took some regular courses, some AP courses and created her own comparative religion course, all as part of independent study. "As a senior, I was interested in something different from a regular high school schedule and I had a lot of other interests I wanted to pursue. I heard rumors that independent study was for slackers who didn't want to be in school. But it was an amazing program for a whole range of kids. I took the same number of courses as regular high school students but instead of meeting in class every day, I met once a week with each teacher one-on-one for a half-hour or an hour and did my work independently. It was much more self-directed. It really prepared me well for college and got me used to managing my time."
Often high schools will offer regular classes in an independent study format if a student has a schedule conflict and a teacher is willing to meet with the student one-on-one. Some schools will allow students to pursue a particular subject they are interested in as an independent study, if the course is not offered at the school. Check with your high school to find out what independent study options are offered.
Many high schools offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses, which are college-level courses offered at high schools. These courses are taught by AP-trained high school teachers who follow course guidelines and curriculum developed by the College Board. Students can also take AP courses through independent study, and some states sponsor online AP courses. Courses are available through high schools at no cost but students who want to receive college credit must take and pass an AP exam, which costs $82. Financial aid is available. There are 37 AP courses available in a variety of subjects. AP began offering Chinese and Japanese for the first time in 2006. Currently, 16,000 schools offer AP courses. For information on AP, check the AP section of the College Board Web site.
Some high schools offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which is a rigorous two-year pre-university program. Students who successfully complete the IB exams at the end of the program receive an IB diploma, which is accepted by universities in more than 100 countries.