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Approximately 200,000 school-aged children in the United States are enrolled full-time in a cyber (online) school. Full-time cyber schools exist in 27 states and Washington, D.C. These numbers are expected to grow.
Cyber schooling involves online instruction through an accredited educational institution. Just like at a brick-and-mortar school, you'll have a state-certified teacher, you'll take tests, and you'll receive grades and a diploma.
Learning can be real time, self paced, or a combination of the two. "Classroom" activities may require that you collaborate with other cyber school students.
Cyber schooling is usually tuition-free. It's more common in rural areas, where residents live many miles away from public education. However, students choose cyber schooling for many reasons, including flexibility in scheduling and a more personalized curriculum.
Cyber school students interested in going to college should keep the following in mind:
•Research shows that online learning is "as good as or better than" face-to-face instruction. This can be a great advantage when it's time to apply to college.
•Cyber schools often offer a broader curriculum—for example, more Advanced Placement courses, more foreign language classes—than public schools do. Such broad coursework may make you eligible for more scholarships and can help you better stand out in the application process.
•You can usually participate in extracurricular activities through your local school district. Extracurricular activities will not only look good on your college applications, they can better prepare you for the college admissions process itself.
Since you'll receive grades from your cyber school, the college application process is similar to that for traditional school students (as long as your cyber school is accredited).
In fact, because of the broad curriculum that cyber schools offer, you may already have multiple college prep classes under your belt. So you may be even more prepared for college than traditional school students are.
Despite these advantages, fewer than 60% of full-time cyber school students continue on to college or technical school after they graduate. However, cyber schooling is still a relatively new concept. Cyber schools are working to increase the numbers of students who pursue education after high school.