Earning a high school diploma through distance learning used to be a low prestige undertaking. Not any more. These days America’s top universities — think Stanford and Indiana University — are in a race to build the best online high schools for gifted students. Moreover, the global appetite for a system of elite virtual high schools appears unlimited. An estimated 275,000 students enrolled in online high schools in 2011 and forecasters predict double digit growth as the decade progresses.
Online learning is 100% portable. Famous online learning alumni who have taken advantage of learning on the go include tennis pro Venus Williams and basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal. Virtual high schools are perfect for youth who travel, such as Olympiads and pro athletes. And the classes can be easily tweaked to support any special needs curriculum, including Advanced Placement (AP) and college prep. Both gifted youth — the Brains — and professional athletes on the go — the Jocks — are swarming virtual high school quads.
According to the Speak Up Survey from Project Tomorrow, 27 percent of high school youth opted for an online course in 2011. In 2010, only 13 percent made this same choice. High school students, whose social lives increasingly radiate from digital networks, are in love with virtual learning.
If you’re searching for the best accredited online high schools, the Get Educated editors recommend the following virtual high school programs. All hold regional accreditation — the most widely accepted form of academic accreditation — and all enjoy national reputations as top choices for AP, honors, and college prep online courses.