You can, virtually, get a complete education while sitting in front of your computer. Cyber school, or virtual school, is an educational process that allows individuals to take all, or most of, the required courses for a degree, diploma or certificate online. There are many choices of online non-accredited courses and tutorials, both free and fee based, but the classic cyber school definition refers to an accredited school. An accredited cyber school leads students to a degree, diploma or certification.

How Cyber School Gained Ground

As computers and the Internet became more widely used, it was natural that correspondence courses and distance learning would transform into Internet classes. Accredited educational institutions realized more classes could be available to more students. This also decreased the school's overhead and was more affordable to the student.

An online degree can be had without ever having to step foot in a classroom. This idea spread to lower-level schools, primary and secondary, as well as colleges.

A child can now be completely home-schooled through high school via the Internet. Public schools take advantage of cyber schools with computer labs, where students can take classes not offered at their particular school.

Cyber School Definition

A student signs up for online courses through an accredited school. A cyber school teacher instructs through a camera connected to the computer and can consult with the student after class via secure email. Completed classes can usually be transferred to a brick-and-mortar college or another online school.

The significance of easier access to education is huge to those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to continue their education toward a degree. Children living in outlying areas far from a public school can get a first-rate education. Adults with families and obligations can begin to work toward a degree, or finish one, at their own pace.

Completing Online Classes

Although the process used to complete classes will differ depending on the cyber school, the basic structure is the same. Teachers are in control of grading and administering four types of assignments.

  • Assessments, the most common type of assignment, are uploaded lessons. The student downloads and completes the assignment using his own word-processing or worksheet program and sends it back by the predetermined date.
  • Worksheets, also quite common, are question-and-answer sheets. They are often in a multiple-choice or true-and-false format.
  • Online discussions are another class process.
  • Exams are the fourth type of class process.

Some educational institutions require students to take tests at predetermined locations where administrators oversee the testing.

Covering the Cost of Cyber Class

Before signing up for online classes, investigate the costs versus what you are gaining to further your studies. Generally, online classes are around 40 percent less than campus classes. Depending on where you live, some primary and secondary classes can be paid for by the state.

Some materials for courses may be offered as free downloads, but there are usually text books that must be ordered and paid for by the student. The cyber school text books can often be downloaded, which saves the student significant funds.

There is an abundance of grants available to students who prefer online courses. There are merit, need-based and corporate grants as well as academic departmental grants that students can apply for throughout the year.

Check for Fees

Fees come along with classes and downloads. Research the fee factor before signing up so that you aren't surprised by additional costs tacked on at checkout. These fees are generally much lower than campus fees because the overhead for online courses is significantly lower by comparison. A technology fee is typical and covers downloads and tech support for students.

Be an Independent Student

Embarking on any type of education takes self-discipline. However, enrolling in cyber school, and completing courses, takes an extra dose of motivation. The student is given more leeway as to when he will complete assignments and, therefore, they must be more responsible.

A cyber student needs to be an independent and focused participant. Chat rooms and discussion boards based on the class or the topic are numerous; however socialization isn't as abundant for students who attend cyber school.

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