Succeeding in distance education high school is very different from succeeding in public, private or online high school.
The primary factor in how well-educated you will be upon entrance to a trade, college, university or the working world (depending on your choice) is your own motivation.
CHOOSING A PROGRAM
The number of distance education programs out there today is astounding! Furthermore, not all of them are legitimate programs, and if you’re not careful, you can find yourself ripped off and left with a diploma that nobody will recognize, or worse still, an education that taught you nothing of the skills and knowledge you will need later in life!
Choose a program based on your own unique needs and its ability to meet them. If you have to complete the program concurrent to college or work, you will probably need a program with a little less structure and more flexibility. Some programs have online components; make sure your computer will be compatible! For this article, I am focusing on offline (AKA pencil-and-paper) courses, since the skills and habits needed for success differ from online-based programs.
Once you have found a program that you are interested into, research them thoroughly. Take an afternoon to search for their names on www.google.com, and look into their reputations. Check whether they are accredited by a recognized board or council, and if not, think carefully before paying them a cent! You can also find Yahoo groups, mailing lists or bulletin boards about most distance ed high school programs. See what experiences other people have had with them, and perhaps post in such a place with any questions you might have. Many people are willing to help someone new to or considering long-distance education programs.
Set up a space dedicated to studying, and try not to use it for anything else; don’t train your mind to relax in a place that should be reserved for thinking! Make sure you have all the resources you need for each subject at hand so you don’t waste time searching for them. A little organization here can save lots of time.
It is important to set a schedule or time limit for yourself. One way that worked well for me was to decide that I was not allowed to surf the internet or read until I had completed my lessons for the day. Lesson formats vary depending on what school you are with.
If you don’t understand a concept and you have time, don’t skip it! Slow down and reread the material, refer to the study guide if you have one, and complete all quizzes and self-check tests provided. If you still don’t understand the material, try asking someone else who is known for being good at that subject, or if your school offers teacher support, try writing to or calling them for help. If it takes too long to ask for help, or they don’t provide it, the internet is a great place to find help. Try going to www.google.com and searching for keywords related to the concepts you are struggling to master. See the list of references at the bottom of the article for a good place to start.
Remember to carefully read chapters, and read them more than once if necessary. One of the advantages of distance-based learning is that you can do this to make sure that you’re learning the concepts and not just studying to pass tests; take full advantage of this!
Don’t let people interrupt you if you’re studying! A common temptation is to help others with tasks or chores; if you’re living at home, your parents might constantly interrupt and ask for help. Make it clear that you cannot help while you’re “at school” – take it as seriously as you would if you were sitting in a classroom!
Make records of all your work; if you have to send in exams or work, make a photocopy or scan everything before you send it. Few things are worse than having to rewrite an exam just because the mail system lost it!
Motivation can be one of the biggest problems when you’re studying by yourself. Consider making some kind of visual representation of how you’re doing – make a paper thermometer for each subject and fill in a notch for each lesson you’ve completed, or put a jar of jelly beans on your desk with a bean for each test you have to do, and reward yourself – but make sure not to snack! You also could try making a poster with your goals on it to hang up near where you do your work. The sky’s the limit; just don’t waste too much time procrastinating and decorating instead of doing school!
Take a break after each lesson if you’re doing more than one, so you don’t get exhausted and burn out too quickly. In fact, you should take frequent breaks anyway to keep your mind fresh.
OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL
Your friends or family members might interrupt you in normal “after school” hours. If your schedule is set up so that you have to complete a lesson each day (which is what I recommend in order to avoid falling behind and taking a long time to complete a course or school year), this might be quite a distraction. Be sure to let them know when you are studying and when you’re available for fun and relaxation. Don’t skip on activities with friends, either; when you’re stressed, it’s important to take some time to yourself.
Consider signing up for extra-curricular activities. It can be hard to meet friends if you’re not in the traditional school system, and you can enhance your interest in an area or even incorporate activities that you participate in with a group or club into your studies! It’s also important to build up other interests and activities that look good on your resume or application for higher education.
Yahoo Index of Programs
A-Z Home’s Cool
High School Ace
History Links 1
History Links 2
Art Website Catalogue
English/Foreign Language Studies
BJ Pinchbeck’s English Sites
Tips for Learning Foreign Languages