(ARA) – As students around the country head back to school this fall, some are traveling no farther than the desk in their bedroom or the computer in the family room to get the high school education that best meets their needs. In fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 1 million U.S. K-12 students attend private or independent schools and some 1.1 million U.S. students are homeschooled.
The reasons that parents and students choose private education or homeschooling vary. The student might have unique educational needs or live in a remote location where a public school isn’t nearby, or there may be religious or other reasons why a traditional school environment doesn’t work for some families. A growing way to meet these educational needs is distance learning. Distance learning—either online or via correspondence courses—allows students to learn at their own pace in a safe, comfortable environment.
For example, Cynthia Smith had always opted to homeschool her three sons “because I wanted them to feel free to be their unique selves, without a lot of peer pressure,” says the single mother from Dayton, Texas. But when her oldest son, Matt Kuslich, was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, it became critical that he have access to a high-quality curriculum that he could do at his own pace in the quiet of their home.
Matt attends Keystone National High School. Keystone, a fully accredited, independent study program serving students in all 50 states and around the world, offers at-home, self-paced study and education to more than 23,000 students each year. Based in Pennsylvania, Keystone offers an innovative, flexible, student-focused education built on more than 30 years of experience that uses the latest distance learning approaches.
“We chose Keystone National High School because we wanted a serious education with a real transcript that would prepare him for a good college,” says Smith. When Matt’s problems surfaced, Keystone turned out to be “more than I ever could have expected,” she says. Matt’s brother, Jim Kuslich, 15, is also enrolled with Keystone, and his youngest brother, Lars Kuslich, 13, will enroll when he’s ready for high school too.
Keystone National High School has served more than 200,000 students. Today Keystone’s courses are offered both online and by traditional correspondence using the mail. The school’s course catalog is described in detail at www.keystonehighschool.com. “We are committed to offering programs of study and course delivery methods that will ensure success for all of our students,” says Keith Oelrich, president and chief executive officer, Keystone National High School. “Our highly qualified faculty–many with master’s or doctoral degrees—offers students more than 50 courses in core subject areas as well as electives.”
Some students, such as Kristin Hallerberg, turn to Keystone when their local public school can’t meet their needs. Kristin, 17, recently settled in San Diego, Calif., with her parents and younger brothers after spending five years in Department of Defense schools in Yokosuka, Japan, while her mother served as an officer in the Navy.
“It wasn’t possible to match her needs with what was available mid-year at the public school, so we enrolled her at Keystone National High School,” says her mother, Mary Hallerberg. “Keystone allowed Kristin to pick up where she had left off, taking the next level of classes she had just completed.”
So far, Kristin has taken English, Chemistry, Algebra II and American History from Keystone. “I liked chemistry best, and I’m happy I had the chance to finish it,” she says. “I wouldn’t have been able to complete any of those classes at the public school during my junior year.”
With their eyes set on good colleges for their four children, Jim and Lisa Black knew that strong high school credentials were a necessity. The challenge was in finding a high-quality, accredited secondary education in the rural town of Gembu, Nigeria, where the Blacks were serving as missionaries. Some friends—fellow U.S. missionaries–recommended Keystone National High School.
“Our friends’ children were doing really well with Keystone, and we looked into it and decided it was the right choice for our children, too,” said Jim. The three oldest children: Amanda, now 19; Megan, 17; and Stephen, 15, were all Keystone students during the seven years the family spent in Nigeria.
Since the Blacks returned home to Olympia, Wash., last year, Amanda has graduated and moved on to college. Now a sophomore at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, she is majoring in chemistry and biology. Megan and Stephen continue in their studies at Keystone, and Daniel, 13, will enroll, too, when he’s ready for high school.
The Blacks’ children join many other successful Keystone National High School graduates. SAT scores reported by Keystone National High School students are 25 points higher than the national average, and Keystone graduates have been accepted at many colleges and universities, including Stanford, Yale, Duke, Rice and Notre Dame. Others have been accepted at military academies including West Point and many other two- and four-year colleges around the country.
Megan, Kristin and Matt all plan to attend college as well. “We are so grateful to the Keystone instructors for treating their students as unique individuals,” says Matt’s mother, “and most of all for refusing to give up on Matt.”
Topics for Presentations, Essays and Debates
- If you had the choice of studying at home by using technology such as computers or television or of studying at a traditional school, which would you prefer? Use reasons and specific details to explain your choice.
- Which do you prefer – studying alone or with a group of pupils / students? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice.
- When pupils / students move to a new school, they sometimes face problems. How can schools help these pupils / students with their problems? Use specific reasons and details in your answer.
- Parents are the best teachers – do you agree or disagree with the statement? Explain your position.