Thursday, May 20, 2010

Online schooling pays off in grades, college scholarship

By Kenya Woodard

PALM COAST -- Stephanie Bettis, 18, has never passed a note in class, eaten lunch with friends in the cafeteria or listened to a teacher lecture.

For Bettis, the classroom is wherever her laptop is located.

Bettis, a senior, has been home-schooled for much of her education. Her father's job as a business consultant kept the family on the move. The Bettises permanently settled in Bunnell in 1997.

As Bettis' freshman year approached, however, her parents gave her the option to attend Flagler Palm Coast High School. By now, Bettis was comfortable learning at home and she turned down the offer in favor of continuing her education via the Internet.

And so, for the last four years, Bettis' classroom has been wherever her laptop is located.

Before the start of each school year, Bettis said she considered enrolling at Flagler Palm Coast because she craved more socialization with her peers.

But a fear that the traditional school setting would distract her from her studies kept her at home, she said.

Bettis said she believes the decision to study on her own and miss out on attending prom and cheering on the team at homecoming games paid off.

On Friday, she will "graduate" with a 4.0 GPA from Florida Virtual School.

The future marine biologist scored an 1800 on her SATs (out of a perfect 2400) and is headed to Stetson University, which gave her a full-tuition scholarship, she said. Bettis said she has no regrets about missing out on the highs and lows of a traditional high school experience.

"It's been really cool," she said.

Bettis isn't alone in her decision to pursue her education online. A 2006 report by the North American Council for Online Learning found that virtual education enrollment in grades K-12 is expected to increase an estimated 30 percent annually.

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