Questions on enrolling?
We're here 9am-9pm ET Mon-Fri

Questions on enrolling?
We're here 9am-9pm ET Mon-Fri

Questions on enrolling? We're here 9am-9pm ET Mon-Fri


How to Talk to Your Parents About Switching to Online High School

Written by Laura Amendola on Thursday, 14 March 2024. Posted in Traditional Students

Girl with brown hair in white shirt holding laptop.

In a post-pandemic world, online or virtual school has become more common. Most students these days have experienced online school in some capacity, whether during quarantine in 2020 and 2021 or as a replacement for beloved snow days. This exposure may have been enough to convince you that this untraditional way to get an education is the perfect way for you. It may not, however, be enough to convince your parent(s) or guardian. How can you get them on the same page as you? This guide can give you some tips on how you can get an education your way.

Step 1: Research

This is one of the most important steps! Any decisions made about something as important as your education must be fully informed, so having as much information as possible about online schooling will help paint a full picture for your family.

Researching your options will also prepare you to answer any questions they may have, simultaneously giving them the answers they seek and impressing them with your knowledge and dedication to making this move. Items to research can include top online high schools, how much online high school costs, graduate outcomes, state regulations, and benefits to online high school.

Read more: Parents, Here’s Why a Nontraditional Education May Be Right for Your Child

Step 2: Draw on your own experience

As we’ve established, most current students have already been exposed to learning online due to the pandemic. The post 2020 game has changed and embracing that can help your family embrace it too.

Use real examples from your experience to make an argument for why learning online is best for you.

  • Did you find yourself retaining information better when you’re in online school?
  • Do you have test scores to compare from when you were working remotely to when you were in classroom that prove you can get higher scores when learning from home?

Gather this information and present it in a way that shows how online school has already benefitted you.

It’s also important to remember that your experience isn’t limited to your exposure to online learning. You can use your experience in traditional school as a reason for wanting to make the switch as well.

  • Are big classroom settings making you feel like you’re getting lost in the shuffle?
  • Do you suffer from test anxiety, which is only made worse by seeing your peers excel in areas you're struggling?
  • Have you experienced bullying in a traditional school setting?

These are all things that can make going to school online a better option for you.

Read more: High School Diploma vs GED

Step 3: The safety approach

As difficult as it can be to bring up, the fact of the matter is brick-and-mortar schools are not as safe as they once were. It’s likely that both you and your parent/guardian worry about safety, so it can be very reasonable to have a candid conversation about fears many students face in a brick-and-mortar school. If you’re the kind of person who likes to make pro/con lists, this would be a check in the pro column for online school.

Read more: The Pros and Cons of Online High School

Step 4: Remain goal oriented

Goals are so important, and everyone’s goals are different. If you already know what you’d like to do after high school, make sure to explain how an online high school could help you reach your goals just as well as – if not better than – your current school.

If you aren’t sure yet what life after high school will look like for you, you can lean on the freedom online schooling can offer you to find your passion. Many online schools are self-paced, so you can complete schoolwork while exploring other parts of life in a fulfilling way.

Read more: 7 Ways Online High School Can Help You Focus

Step 5: Allow open communication

It’s best to approach the conversation with your family in an open, honest, and calm manner. It’s easy to give yourself credit for going about this so maturely, but remember that conversations are a two-way street, so if you are being open and honest, you must allow your parent(s) or guardian to also be open and honest.

It may even take them time to prepare themselves to approach this subject, so be patient and understanding as they work through their thoughts and feelings before making a decision.

Read more: How to Transfer to Online High School: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents

Step 6: Answer their questions

This is where the research you did in step 1 will come in handy! It’s only natural for your family to have questions, so try to be as prepared as you can to answer them. To help, here are some common questions they may ask and the answers conveniently in one place:

Is online high school legit?

To answer this question, we must ask another: what makes a school “legit”? Accreditation is what you want to look for here. If a school is recognized by accrediting bodies like the Distance Education Accrediting Commission or Cognia, that means it is, in fact, legit.

Read more: What You Need to Know About JMHS Accreditation

Do credits transfer to online high school?

This likely depends on the school, but a lot do accept transfer credits. If you’re looking to do high school from start to finish online, this isn’t very applicable to you, but if you are switching halfway through, you can send your transcripts from your old school to the new school for evaluation to see if anything can transfer over! Many schools utilize sites that send official transcripts electronically as well, so a convenient process is possible.

Read more: How to Transfer High School Credits to JMHS

How much is online high school?

Costs of online schools can vary. There are some public online high schools that are usually state run and free, but private online schools like James Madison do have a tuition. If you opt for a private online high school, be sure to check if they’re accredited. Your family’s money is hard earned, so you want to make sure it’s being spent on a diploma that can get you far.

Can you get a job or apply to college/trade school with an online diploma?

Yes! It’s important to look into the job or school you’re interested in to be sure they accept online diplomas, but plenty do! Some states have stricter requirements than others, so you may struggle in places like New York, but calling an admissions office or hiring manager can give you the information you need.

Sometimes schools will highlight their success stories by sharing where students went after they graduated, so you may find a school you’re interested in listed on their website. If you find that you want to continue with an online model for higher education, there are several college and training programs available to choose from!

Read more: How to Apply to College with a JMHS Diploma

Why do teenagers sometimes thrive in online high school?

Everyone learns differently, and online school allows you the freedom to learn at your own pace in an environment you’re comfortable in. There are so many factors that can contribute to a negative traditional schooling experience, and so many of them are out of your hands. Switching to online school gives you the opportunity to take your education and future into your own hands.

If you and your family are ready to make this switch, you can enroll online or call 1-800-535-1613 to start James Madison High School today!

About the Author

Laura Amendola

Laura Amendola

Laura Amendola started her Penn Foster Group career in 2015 in the Education department, where she worked closely with instructors to help students achieve their goals. She has a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature with a minor in Writing from Marywood University. Laura enjoys reading, snuggling with her cat, and recently has formed a love-hate relationship with cooking.