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Consider Alternatives To The Traditional High School Experience

For many students, the traditional high school experience is not well suited for them.


Unfortunately, these students often trudge through the years getting more and more frustrated and less and less interested in education. The reality is there are alternative options that might work better with their personalities, lifestyles and learning styles.


But before we discuss some alternatives, let’s discuss what types of students might want to make a switch.


Like every student, every high school has a different personality. And as personalities often do, they can clash. Some high schools are incredibly one-sided in their academic approach — whether with a strong focus on particular fields or one-dimensional. With math and science courses taking the spotlight these days at many schools, those students who want to pursue the social sciences, humanities or even the arts are often left to fend for themselves when it comes to broad academic opportunities.


Sadly, I have had incredibly gifted artists get disillusioned because they are often told that “art is a waste of time.” More importantly, others diminish their interests.


The reality is that the arts play a huge role in society, and even in technology. Graphic designers and user interface experts often have artistic backgrounds. Additionally, too many schools these days focus on multiple-choice exams, where the gray area between answers does not exist.


It is in this gray area where discussion and creativity can make the difference for some students. They thrive in environments where they can talk, challenge perspectives and find compromises. But if the school does not reward this type of thinking, they will be stifled.


And some students simply do not connect with the school community. Perhaps a bad experience left them jaded. Perhaps an extended absence due to a variety of reasons kept them from forming strong relationships early on. In many of these cases, looking at alternative programs might be a good way to reboot the high school experience.


Many community colleges offer concurrent enrollment programs for high school students. In these programs, students take all of their courses at the community college, making sure to also meet their high school graduation requirements. These programs offer the flexibility of community college. Homework and attendance, while mandatory, tend not to impact grades as much as tests, essays, and projects.


Students at community colleges will also come from a wide array of backgrounds and life experiences. The downside is that many of these college students do not really hang around campus before and after classes. Many will shuffle off to work or other obligations. So high school students should not opt for a program like this if they seek a strongly connected community.


There are even online high schools that offer a diversity of courses. Through these programs, students will conduct most of their work independently, watch lectures on video or log into live sessions, and then take tests online. The structures can vary. These are incredibly good options for students who have a strong level of self-discipline. It is easy to shrug off work no one is demanding. The benefit is also the flexibility. In many cases, students can do the work during the times they are most productive.


One other option would be to look at private or charter schools with curriculums best suited for the student. There is an increasing number of these popping up. While they still require that you complete state graduation requirements, the different structures and other opportunities might make them attractive options. It is worth visiting these schools and sitting in on classes to see if this new environment will make a difference.


The key to remember is that you don’t always have to settle for the situation you are in. High school is a time of exploration and transitioning into adulthood. Being a high school student is hard enough; you don’t have to feel trapped in an environment that does not work for you. So if you need a change, seek out your options.


Read more about finding your passion and the Archeology of Success in our Insight blogs. 

All the best, 

Team Insight 

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