Transitioning to a new academic environment comes with many challenges for high school students. The fear of starting over in a new place, making new friends, and adjusting academically can make students anxious. In the last few years, though, virtual schools have revolutionized education, offering students a convenient and flexible way to learn at home or virtually anywhere. Online schools allow students to learn at their own pace, build a social community online, and develop a newfound independence they may not have had before.
Students should feel a sense of belonging at school, but it may take time and many anxious feelings to get there. This blog will discuss the anxiety associated with high school transitions and tips to help students find their place in a virtual learning community.
Anxiety in High School: Common Causes for Stress
Anxiousness is common when approaching a new learning environment, and transitioning to an online setting is no different. Whether you're starting new classes at a brick-and-mortar high school or comfortably at home, it's normal to feel nervous about a fresh start. A recent survey found that 45% of high school students are stressed daily.
Anxiety in high school may occur due to:
- Exam pressure
- New school
- Making friends
- Relationship stress
- Time management
Starting at a new school and meeting academic standards rank high as reasons for students to feel anxious, but research has found that when students feel a sense of belonging in school, they are more motivated to participate in school events, socialize with peers, and improve their academic performance.
Feeling nervous before starting at a new school is to be expected. However, high anxiety levels could negatively affect a student's mental and physical health. Finding a healthy balance between feeling nervous and overcoming those feelings when transitioning to a new school is essential.
Transitioning High Schools: Finding an Online Learning Community
If traditional schooling, such as a brick-and-mortar school, does not fit your lifestyle, virtual high school could be more accommodating. Students switch to online schools for a variety of reasons, including:
- Participation in extracurricular activities or travel sports
- Falling behind academically
- Feeling unsafe or experiencing bullying
- Working during school hours to provide for their families
Online schooling is convenient and flexible. A virtual learning environment enables students to learn at their own speed on their own time. While this newfound independence is very beneficial for students, as it helps them learn responsibility at a young age, it’s also important for students to connect with others to find a community of support when embarking on new academic territory.
Tips for Getting Acclimated in Online Schools
Virtual schools offer personalized support, mentorship, and opportunities for social connection, enabling students to thrive academically and socially. However, it may be difficult for students to adjust to a new setting.
Here are four tips to help you acclimate to a new virtual environment.
Build a Positive Support System
It can be intimidating entering a new school system – even from a comfortable setting such as home. However, attending school solely online presents little opportunity to interact with others in person. As a result, it’s crucial to build a community online with other students, teachers, and administrators to discuss any fears or concerns you may have. If you are a parent, encouraging supportive discussions with your teen can provide an outlet for them to discuss their emotions when finding belonging in a virtual learning community.
Participate in School and Community Activities
Staying active in an online community can be challenging for students, as logging off for the day is only one click away. However, staying active in discussion forums and online clubs gives students a sense of camaraderie. High school is a place to build lifelong friendships, and online school doesn’t need to hold students back from building valuable relationships they’ll have for years. Parents can also encourage their teens to participate in local community activities to meet other teenagers with the same interests. While online learning is a great place to connect with others, encouraging in-person activities can help them find the perfect balance of virtual and in-person relationships.
Establish a Routine
Attending school online is flexible, convenient, and academically beneficial, as students can learn at their own pace with customized plans catered to their learning speed. But one thing is certain: attending is the only way to reap the positive benefits. While parents can assist students in ensuring timely attendance, it's up to the students to stay on top of classes and ask for help when needed. Falling behind academically can cause students to worry, increasing anxiety. Keeping up with schoolwork is vital in making online school work for students. However, there are daily tasks that can also assist students attending school online. Getting to bed early, establishing a morning regimen, and having a homework routine are valuable tasks to help students start the day right, preventing an unstructured school day.
Transitioning to virtual school can make students anxious in a new learning environment, but it's important to remember that most feelings will be temporary as students get acclimated. Whether you've recently moved to a new community or are transitioning from in-person education, it's essential to remember that gaining acceptance and belonging in a new online high school will take time. Practicing patience, keeping an open mind, getting involved, and discussing your feelings can go a long way.
Ensure a Smooth Transition With Idaho Connects Online School
If you are considering transitioning to a virtual learning environment, contact us. At ICON, we provide high school students with a personalized online education and a robust curriculum that students can complete at their own pace, with many opportunities to connect with other students and receive one-on-one support. Reach out to learn more about our process.