The Critical 9th Grade Year: How Online Schools Support Smooth Transitions

For most students, the 9th grade year represents a big step forward in their education.  A smooth transition from middle to high school can ensure success in 9th grade and beyond. However, students face many challenges in this transition. These include:  increased academic rigor, decreased supervision, changes in structure and presentation of class material, and changes in the support system they are used to having in school.  High school also brings social and emotional challenges that can be distracting or even disruptive to a student’s education. Though students can be at risk of dropping out at any grade level, the 9th grade year is often when students start to get off track or end up dropping out. Online schools like GloblaED Solutions can help with all of these challenges, and even get students back on track towards graduation!

Academic Challenges and Credit Support

Students may be overwhelmed by the increase in rigor in their classes from middle school to high school. Switching classes and having many different teachers may be confusing and they can easily lose track of homework assignments and expectations. Online school may be able to help with this transition. At GlobalED, academic support is only a click away, and students have access to their classes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They never have to wait for the next class meeting to have their question answered. Students who are already used to studying online have the ability to manage their time and to advocate for themselves by reaching out to their teachers. However, students who are used to a classroom teacher telling them exactly what to do and when to do it may need more support in this area. Whether they are continuing with online classes or jumping into a traditional high school, students can benefit from the skills learned in online school. 

Students who have already failed a high school course are at serious risk of dropping out, either during their first year of high school, or later as they approach their graduation date without enough credits to graduate. Online schools can work with a student and help them to recover credit. Students may be able to double up on classes easier with an online rather than in-person schedule.  Some online schools like GlobalED even offer credit recovery programs and alternative paths to graduation for students who are severely lacking in credits, but who have the desire to put in the work to complete high school.

Social and Emotional Challenges

A student who studies in a quality online program will already have a support network in place. At GlobalED, students are assigned a life coach and they work with certified online  teachers for all of their classes. They even have access to BASE, a social and emotional learning platform, and State of Grace, offering group and individual counseling as needed by students.  In addition, students who study online are more likely to learn to self-advocate, be self motivated, and be less dependent on their peers for approval. These students have the opportunity to discover their true potential without the pressure of traditional high school social life going on all around them. 

Online students can choose where and when they interact with peers. Sports and clubs are still accessible to GlobalED students in their home districts, so they can study from home and still play for the “home team”. Or, students may choose to pursue private sports leagues or other activities. If they live near one of GlobalED’s Community Education Zones, they can drop in to socialize, attend events, or meet with their coach and other staff. The key is that their interactions are self-driven, never imposed upon them.

Early and active intervention is the key to helping students transition to high school. For students already in online school, keeping up to date with school communications, keeping track of student progress, and providing support from home can make a big difference in a student’s education. However, for a student who is struggling in traditional school, is lacking in credits, or is in need of a different environment in order to thrive, 9th grade may be the right time to make a positive change.