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A Day in the Life of a High School Student (Online High School Edition) 

Written by Nicole Dalbo on Monday, 12 December 2022. Posted in Helpful Tips, Traditional Students

Teenage girl sitting in front of a computer at a desk, while writing in a notebook.

With the flexibility that comes with online school, it can be difficult to imagine how, when, and where you will work on your lessons. Whether you’re a full-time student or a working adult, it’s possible to earn your high school diploma around a busy schedule. Take a deep dive into a day in the lives of online high school students to help you figure out a routine that matches with your lifestyle, and if online schooling may be the right fit for you.

What is a daily routine like with online education?

A day in the life of an online high school student is going to look different for everyone. With the flexibility of being able to take classes morning or night, and for as much or little time as you want, it can really create much more diversified routines than your typical traditional high school allows for.

Getting into a set routine based on your preferences and needs can definitely help you make consistent progress toward earning your high school diploma. These 2022 JMHS graduates spoke about the routines that worked best for them. Check out what they have to say for some inspiration!

Before transferring to JMHS, Isabella Lynch struggled with bullying in her traditional style school. Switching to online school gave Isabella the opportunity to study at times, and places, where she felt more comfortable.

“At first, [my school schedule] was more traditional and I was getting up at like, 7:30 to do school. Then later on, when I got more used to it, it moved to the evening because I'm actually more of like a night owl. So being able to start school later is really helpful for me and works around my day.” Isabella L.

Having just immigrated from Turkey, Fatih Illeez knew he wanted to help support his father’s new business in America. JMHS’s flexible schedule made it possible for him to adapt his daily routine in order to incorporate work alongside earning his high school diploma.

“With James Madison I was able to like work in the mornings and afternoon and then when I came home, I could just work on my schoolwork. I’d be taking tests at 3 a.m. I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. That was just really liberating and awesome.” Fatih I.

Sean Flanagan’s intensive tennis schedule made the flexibility of online school a must for him. Here’s how this star athlete kept up with his schoolwork while also committing to his tennis priorities.

“James Madison's curriculum was flexible. It really did help me out heaps. I’d wake up. I would go for a run. Have some breakfast, and then I’d mainly get on and start knocking down assignments. I’d get that done hopefully around 1 p.m. and then I'd train for two or three hours afterwards and then finish off with a gym session.” Sean F.

How many hours a day should I do online school?

How many hours a day you study really depends on how quickly you master your courses and if you want to graduate quickly.

It’s totally okay if you need more time to fully understand your lessons—that’s what self-paced learning is all about! Take the time you need to hand in your assignments and take your exams with confidence. Learning good study skills and how to take quality notes can also help you do this more efficiently so that you can spend less time per lesson as you progress.

However, if you’re looking to fast-track your graduation, even gifted students will need to dedicate more hours a day than they would otherwise. (Another reason why study skills are so important in helping you accomplish your diploma goals!)

One way to calculate how many hours a day you’ll need to dedicate to your classes is to set up check points for yourself. If you wanted to graduate within four years and are starting high school without transfer credits, you would need to complete 1 half-credit course per month. If the course has 8 lessons, that means you’ll need to complete two lessons per week. Once you’re in the swing of things, you’ll be more accurately able to tell how long a lesson might take you to complete.

If you’re just starting out, and have more time available to you, starting off with three hours per day of focused learning can help you make great progress. You’ll be able to tell if you need to speed up the process, or if you can take more time to meet your goals once you’re in the rhythm of studying in online high school.

Does online school make students lazy?

Because students need to own their education in a self-paced curriculum, online high school can actually help make learners more hardworking. Teachers are not looking over their students’ backs making sure that their schoolwork is getting done, so you will need to self-motivate and take full responsibility for completing and passing your classes. If you want to pass high school and earn your diploma, you will need to develop a work ethic that many of your peers may not encounter until they enter their career field or move onto college.

In fact, online high school can set students up for college in ways that traditional schools cannot.

One of the biggest adjustments for freshmen in college is learning how to study and work independently when not in the classroom. Graduates that have earned their degrees through online high school have already developed these skills since they are more accustomed to taking charge in their education through independent, self-paced learning.

Is online learning good for high school students?

While online learning is not the perfect fit for everyone, an online environment can be a huge benefit to students for many reasons.

1. Online learning helps promote a solid work ethic.

When you need to create and maintain routines, motivate yourself to your goal, and be expected to reach out for help when you need it, you gain skills and processes that can add up to a healthy work ethic lifestyle.

2. Online learning can help prepare students for college.

Not only can building up your work ethic help prepare you for college, but JMHS has a specific college prep track to help you set you up for success. The college prep diploma track curriculum includes challenging courses with classes that are more aligned with what colleges look out for from high school students. You’ll cover biology, calculus, and language courses as you work your way toward a diploma that can help you stand out more than a general diploma track.

3. Online learning can help prepare students for their careers.

For those that are thinking of focusing more on a job after high school, a career pathway diploma track can help prepare learners for their career choice. Students have the option to pick one of ten different career paths including veterinary assisting, carpentry, childcare, pharmacy assisting, and more. Career pathways are an engaging way for you to get a feel for a field you might be interested in without having to commit to additional education.

Once graduated, those who complete a career pathway will also receive a certificate alongside their diploma, which can help them stand out when looking for careers in their field! Although additional education may be required, having a career pathway certificate can help you walk into your next training with the knowledge from your courses can help you tackle the next level of education with confidence.

Online learning allows students to dedicate more time to their extracurricular activities.

It’s not easy to balance extracurricular activities alongside school. But, having the ability to adapt schoolwork around a busy schedule can make all the difference. Online students no longer have to worry about how they’re going to study for a difficult test the next day after being exhausted from competing in an intensive game or putting on a performance in the big play. Taking part in these activities while maintaining good grades can seriously boost a student’s chance for college admission—and even scholarships!

Online learning can help students become more rested.

One of the benefits of online school is that it can offer flexible class times for students that aren’t early morning risers. Multiple studies suggest that teenagers are biologically programmed for later sleep and wake up times than adults. Scholars have found that a 7:00 alarm call for older adolescents is the equivalent of a 4:30 start for a teacher in their 50s.

Online schooling with flexible class times can be a huge benefit to high school students by letting them learn when they are at their best, most rested selves.

Read more: Pros and Cons of Online High School

What does a typical day look like for an online high school student?

With self-paced class times, there really is no schedule that fits in line with every student. Your priorities will dictate not only when you can work on your lessons, but how much time you have to work on them. Keep in mind that although not every day needs to look the same, maintaining a set routine can help keep you on track and make serious progress toward earning your high school diploma.

If you’re looking for a little inspiration to help mold your online school schedule, pick out a schedule that appeals to you and adapt and modify it to totally make it your own.

Sample day schedule for online high school students

7 am – 8 am: Wake up, have breakfast, and do your normal morning routine to help get you ready for the day.

8 am – 9 am: Take this time to get yourself organized. Get on your computer, log into your student portal, and look at what lesson you’re working on for the day. Set a realistic goal for yourself for how much you want to get accomplished. Then, take a look at your notes from yesterday to refresh yourself from where you left off.

9 am – 12 pm: During this time, you’ll really want to focus on doing the bulk of your coursework. Whether you plan on reading, studying, working on assignments, taking your exams, or a mixture of these, try to make progress to hit your daily goal.

12 pm – 1 pm: Enjoy lunch and if you have some extra time, do a relaxing activity for a bit to help avoid burnout. Going for a short walk during your lunchtime can really give you that extra energy to finish the day off strong.

1 pm – 2 pm: Work towards accomplishing your daily goal, finish up whichever section you were on, and organize your notes to set yourself up in a good place for the next day.

2 pm – bed: Use the rest of the day to do any extracurricular activities, attend a nighttime job, or work on your chores around the house. If you want to make some extra progress on your lessons, that’s up to you!

Sample night schedule for online high school students

7 am – 8 am: Wake up, have breakfast, and head off to work for the day.

9 am – 5 pm: Work your everyday job. If you’d like to make some extra progress on your school work, your breaks and lunch can be a good time to work on your lessons. Afterall, even an extra 10 minutes of studying every day turns into 5 hours of bonus progress in just a month.

5 pm – 7 pm: Return home from work, prepare dinner, and work on any household responsibilities that need to get done.

7 pm – 8:30 pm: Focus in on your schoolwork and study, read lessons, work on assignments or exams, and advance even closer to earning your high school diploma.

8:30 pm – bed: Fill the rest of the evening with whatever else you need to. Whether you want to continue with your courses, work on stuff around the house, or use this time to unwind or have fun, it’s totally up to you! With self-paced lessons, you can start or stop at any time to truly accommodate your lifestyle into school.

Take control of your education.

Whether or not you choose to follow these schedules is totally up to you! With online learning you can take the reins on your education and learn, succeed, and graduate on your terms. If you’re looking to finally take control of your high school experience, James Madison is an accredited, online high school here to provide you with that option. Earn your diploma on your time, in your environment, in a high school with no age limits. Reach out to an Admissions Specialist today at 1-800-349-6861 to learn more information or get started today by going to

About the Author

Nicole Dalbo

Nicole Dalbo

Nicole Dalbo studied English Literature with a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Scranton and is currently working toward her MS in Marketing. When she isn’t writing, Nicole can be found watching the newest Marvel movie, baking something sweet, or jamming out to live music.