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With more than 1.3 million high schools students enrolled in an online class in 2010, online learning is becoming more and more common place for students.  Not only does the opportunity to enroll in an online college-level course better prepare high school students for college-level work, it provides them with skills to be successful in online learning environments.

There are numerous benefits to taking online college courses for high school students. From gaining confidence in coursework to earning college credits, the benefits provide students with early collegiate and career skills, as well as lifelong learning skills.

Female student on a laptop computer. 1. Earn college credits

Earning credit in online college courses while in high school provides students with a head start on their college-level learning.  Whether it is 3 credits or the equivalent of a semester’s worth of credits, earning credit prior to entering college provides students the opportunity to adjust their college schedules according to the rigors of a particular semester, more easily engage in study abroad and internship opportunities, double major or add a minor to an existing major, and/or graduate early.

2. Gain confidence in college-level academic work

Attending college is an extremely exciting time in a young adult’s life.  It represents the next step in learning, preparing for a career, and being independent.  While exciting, it also comes with many new decisions that are based upon lifelong learning skills such as time management, communication, and decision-making.  By taking a pre-collegiate online course, students gain confidence in these skills prior to stepping foot in the classroom, whether traditional or virtual.

3. Pursue a wide variety of interests

Online college courses offer students a great opportunity to pursue challenging coursework that their high school may not offer. By ‘dabbling’ in career-oriented, STEM, and liberal arts courses, students can expand their breadth of knowledge in a certain area or explore an area of interest that may lead to a college major and a career in the given field.

4. Graduate college early

Earning college credits online while in high school can speed up a student’s graduation track, and allow them to graduate early. In a time when the cost of a college education has never been higher, and college graduates are paying, on average, over $29,000 in student loans, earning your degree early is a major benefit.

5. Acquire lifelong e-learning skills

As mentioned earlier, millions of college students enrolled in an online course in the fall 2012 semester. While the ability to use technology and social media may increase one’s success in the online environment, it does not equate to instant success.  By engaging in an online course in high school, students learn to navigate the e-learning environment appropriately and successfully prior to enrolling in their full-time collegiate experience.

It’s important to understand that online learning isn’t an easy alternative.  It takes organization and a commitment to learning, but is a great value for high school students. Pre-collegiate online programs can be found by speaking with administrators from your school district. If the school is not currently collaborating with a university who offers online learning, students and parents can research opportunities and provide information to district administrators.

Post University offers these benefits through our Online High School Academy, which offers six 8-week modules per year.  The Academy offers a variety of classes to fit students’ interest, as well as electives in areas that may not be offered in high school curriculum.

Currently, students can earn up to 12 credits while in high school through Post. Students or parents interested in the Post University Online High School Academy should speak with school guidance counselors or school administrators to learn how their district can take advantage of this opportunity.