Why some students prefer virtual schooling

What motivates a growing number of virtual-school students to forgo the traditional school structure and take their classes entirely online?

At the Virtual School Symposium hosted in mid-October in Phoenix by the North American Council for Online Learning, virtual-school students explained they like being able to progress at their own pace–and some said they appreciate being able to take classes not offered by their traditional, bricks-and-mortar school.

Roger Sanchez said he left his conventional California school because he wanted to study at his own pace while holding a job outside of school and focusing his attention on out-of-school topics that related to his college interests.

“I was looking for something different to fit my schedule, and the traditional system wasn’t making the cut,” said Sanchez, who is taking multiple Advanced Placement courses and plans to study computer science or graphic design in college.

“You can create your own schedule. … It’s not the same routine I’d have in the traditional system, and I can get more of what I want to do done,” he said.

Sanchez said an online school also lets him choose courses that a traditional school might not offer, such as courses that focus more on computer science and graphics.

“I’m really drawn by technology–that’s one of the main reasons I joined the school,” he said. “In the traditional system, [the] main problem is that classes [move] only as fast as the slowest student … so it doesn’t adapt to your own learning style and learning environment. It really slows you down if you want to get ahead.”

Sanchez is a senior at Insight School of California-Los Angeles, one of a national network of full-time, diploma-granting, public online high schools. The network is run by Insight Schools Inc., a subsidiary of Apollo Group Inc., which also operates the all-online University of Phoenix.