Jennifer Schmid

Although taking a virtual class is a graduation requirement, not all students see the need to learn online.

Malavika Kannan and Shafana Mohammad

One of the most commonly dreaded graduation requirements for students is the mandatory online class, taken at some point during their four years of high school.

Florida Virtual School (FLVS) and Seminole County Virtual School (SCVS) offer a variety of courses for students to choose from, ranging from Physical Education to Advanced Placement (AP) classes. However, taking a class online can be difficult for some students, forcing them to work around their extracurriculars and everyday school work. This has led some to wonder whether the virtual school requirement’s difficulties outweigh its benefits.

The first problem for students when it comes to online classes is the decision of when to take it. Since it is a graduation requirement, some students make the decision to take the virtual class at the beginning of their high school career to get it out of the way as freshmen. However, the added pressure of a virtual class can conflict with schedules and clubs for new high school students.

Freshman Rithika Aluvala, who is taking Geometry Honors online, said, “It is definitely hard to balance all of my regular classes along with my virtual class. I am also in a few clubs and it makes it more difficult to manage my time correctly.”

For other students, the logistics of taking a virtual class can be a challenge, because it requires steady Internet access and availability of technology. The school attempts to make online school more accessible for students by providing Virtual Lab class periods, but this can often be difficult for students to fit into their schedules.

On the other hand, as technology develops and as students grow, it can be important to know how to be productive online through virtual classes. In college and in most careers, there is a lot of interaction with technology, making it beneficial for student to take virtual classes that allow them to explore and get to know technology better.

Guidance counselor Shenique Gilbert said, “[Virtual classes] help get students prepared for college because there, you will have to get certain certifications online and it’s good to familiarize yourself with the new technology because it will be beneficial in the future.”

Additionally, virtual school classes allow high-achieving students to explore academic paths and take rigorous courses they may not have been able to fit into their schedules otherwise. For example, some students choose to take their mandatory Physical Education class on FLVS, essentially completing two requirements at once and freeing their schedules for AP classes. Furthermore, virtual classes allow motivated students to take their educational pace into their own hands by taking accelerated courses of their choosing.

“I’ve wanted to learn about psychology for the longest time, but I could never really find the time to do it,” said junior Sanjana Prasad. “So I chose to take AP Psychology during a Virtual Lab period because I have time to manage my other coursework and extracurriculars while still challenging myself with an interesting class.”

Some students believe that participating in a virtual class should be a matter of choice, not requirement. It is interesting to note that International Baccalaureate (IB) students, for example, are not required to take virtual classes. However, many IB students, like Prasad, choose to take them anyways because of the benefits they provide.

“In my case, I would have taken an online class whether or not it was required,” said Prasad. “But I understand that not every student’s high school experience is the same, and not everyone wants or really needs to take one. For those students, the virtual lab requirement could hurt more than it helps.”