Back to School Advice

from PA Virtual Students

All across the internet there are tons of websites that will give you advice on how to create routines for a successful school year– but when you attend cyber school, some of that advice might not apply.

Now that students are starting to figure out what works and what doesn’t work for them, we spoke with Ginger Hahn and Maggie Shive, two 12th grade PA Virtual students for their take on finding your own groove. Here’s what they have to say!

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How do you make your virtual classroom feel like a community?

Allentown resident Maggie, recommends staying engaged in your classes by participating often and having conversations with your fellow students often.

“Get to know your classmates. Many people believe that cyber schools don’t have the same social component that brick and mortar schools do, but that’s not true at all. The difference is that YOU have to put the effort into meeting new people.”

Ginger Hahn of Collegeville agrees.

“Don’t be afraid to use the microphone during classes,” she says. “Your teacher and fellow classmates love to hear your voice and using the microphone is also much faster than trying to type your answer into the chat box or on the whiteboard.”

What tips do you have for students who
may have trouble staying focused or organized?

Creating good time management skills are key for cyber students; since many enroll in schools like PA Virtual so they can learn at their own pace.

However, this also means that sometimes, it can be easy to procrastinate. Staying organized and taking breaks between classes and work hours is another tip that Ginger recommends: “Managing my schedule with apps like OneNote and taking frequent breaks helps me stay focused and makes sure I don’t get burned out on one project

Maggie has been a cyber student her whole life – but still understands how sometimes things can be confusing in an online setting. She believes that if a student is struggling it is best to just ask questions.

“One of my favorite things about PA Virtual is how helpful the teachers and other staff are. If I ever have a question about anything, I know they’ll be able to help me out.”

What is one thing you wish you knew (or had)
before starting cyber school?

The most valuable tool Ginger has discovered during her time at PA Virtual – investing in a stylus pad. “With the stylus pad, I am able to write out answers on a virtual whiteboard instead of typing them. This is incredibly handy for math and science classes, where there are lots of formulas and helps me take good notes to reference later.”

What is one last piece of general advice – on any topic?

Ginger: “My classmates who skipped breakfast or woke up too late to eat it end up starving for lunch and lack energy to focus on their classes. Whether you go to a traditional school, or cyber school; it’s so simple to prevent this before-lunchtime crash; just take time to eat breakfast!”

Maggie: “When people ask where you go to school, always be prepared to explain what cyber schooling is. As a senior, cyber school is now much more common than it was when I started (I was six!) but it never hurts to have an explanation ready.”

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