Graduating high school is one of life’s first big milestones. It is a time to celebrate your successes after years of hard work. Yet it also marks the start of a new stage in a young adult’s life. Many students start this next stage almost immediately, moving on to post-secondary mere months after graduating high school. For some, the transition is relatively smooth, but many find the many changes a shock to the system.
After all, colleges and universities operate quite differently from traditional high schools. Unfamiliar (and often complex) campuses, larger class sizes, and variable course schedules are just a few of the many changes students must learn to navigate in their first few weeks of post-secondary schooling.
How does one prepare for these kinds of grand-scale changes? Well, as many of our graduates have noted, Ontario Virtual School’s self-directed model can help! Here are three key ways OVS helps students ease into the transition to post-secondary.
1. Adjust to Flexibility
Typical high school models teach students to learn within a rigid schedule, moving directly from class to class for 7-8 hours each weekday, with set breaks at designated times. In post-secondary, students have greater flexibility, with the ability to choose their own classes and set their own schedules.
Yet, in transitioning from one extreme to another, many students struggle to develop the self-guided study habits this flexibility demands. After all, the academic expectations only increase with post-secondary studies, meaning it is even more important that students put their new-found flex-time to good use!
For students who have studied in a more flexible high school environment, like OVS, this adjustment comes more naturally. By allowing students the freedom to design their own study schedules earlier in their educational careers, they have time to master the much-needed skills of self-direction before the push of post-secondary.
2. Foster Independent Study Habits
Similarly, students are often surprised by the degree of independent study expected in both college and university courses. Unlike in many high schools, university or college professors will rarely – if ever – host classes designated as “work periods” or dedicate lecture periods to group readings of a required text. Instead, students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the day’s topic, or else fall behind.
This shift in pacing and expectation forces the student to adequately plan ahead for the coming day’s lectures. It is not enough to simply show up, you will often need to have studied the topic in the days before, then come to lecture prepared to ask any clarifying questions to reach full understanding. This means students must learn to set their own goals and motivate themselves to consistently reach those goals.
At Ontario Virtual School, students are given all the materials and resources needed for guided self-study at the start of their course, with no deadlines for any course work. They work through materials at their own leisure, reaching out to their teacher for clarification and feedback, when needed. This freedom, and the responsibility that comes with it, offers OVS students the advantage of acclimating their study habits to the expectations of post-secondary studies, before setting foot in any hallowed halls!
3. Work At Your Own Pace
In college and university, students can take as many classes as they like. So, while some students may opt for a lighter load that allows them to dedicate more time to each course, others may load up on as many courses as they can manage to reach a particular goal in less time. This freedom is something most high school students have never experienced, and may find overwhelming – particularly without a guidance counsellor to turn to for help.
For OVS students, however, these decisions follow naturally from their high school experience. OVS students can take as many or as few classes as they like and can enroll courses at any time. This offers them the freedom to adjust their course load and pacing to suit their needs. This helps students gain an understanding of how much work they can handle, which sets them up for success when they move on to college or university and have a similar level of freedom.
Ultimately, although the transition from high school to post-secondary can be challenging – it doesn’t need to be! With OVS, students can get a head start on building the skills and habits essential to success in post-secondary. With a solid foundation in place, OVS students are free to focus on navigating the academics rather than the atmosphere of first-year.