ADHD and virtual school: Is it right for you?

Virtual schools are on the rise. What was once seen as a second rate degree, a virtual diploma has become far more common place and acceptable a means of education. Virtual schools have even been lauded for lowering dropout rates among at-risk youth. In fact, a study by the US Department of Education even showed that on-line learning can be even more effective than classroom instruction for some groups of students.

Virtual School Advantages

If you have ADHD, an online school may be an option to consider.

  • If you are a few credits short at graduation or you’ve been considering dropping out of high school, on-line education can be a way to get a fresh start, complete your high school credits and graduate.
  • An on-line school is also a way to start college without leaving the support structure of home. Many times students take a year or so of community college before going away from home to a college or university. You may want to consider a virtual school in this situation if your local community college doesn’t offer the subjects you are interested.
  • In all cases, be sure to check on the accreditation of the school you are considering. And, if you are thinking of transferring the credits you earned to another college in a year or so, be sure to check with that school to find out how many of the credits will transfer.

Virtual School Pitfalls

Virtual school sounds pretty great, huh? Set your own pace. Perhaps there’s even no set class time to show up for – so you are never late. No commute time. Study without ever having to get dressed. All these conveniences can also have a flip side – no accountability. YOU are responsible for showing up. YOU are responsible for keeping yourself on track. YOU are responsible for staying focused on your school work instead of surfing the web. It’s just as easy to fall behind in a virtual school as a traditional one if you don’t manage your time well.  So, just as many have found that working at home can require more self discipline than they expected, you want to think carefully if virtual class work is for you.

  • Many students find that they have to go to the library to force themselves to focus on their studies. Where will you go when it’s time to sit down and learn?
  • Do you have the ability to organize your time to get everything done you need to accomplish during the day? If you already have trouble getting yourself organized or being places on time, the less structured format of on-line education may not work for you.
  • On-line schools may or may not be able to accommodate your 504 plan.

An ADHD Coach can help

  • An ADHD coach can be a helpful partner for on-line learning. A coach can help you assess your strengths and work with them – instead of against them.
  • You can work with your coach to figure out what type of learning environment is best for you. A coach can help you learn organizational skills that will keep you on track, plus have the added bonus of serving you well throughout your life.
  • If an on-line school is right for you, a coach can help you stay accountable and moving ahead with your studies. (Side bonus, keeping Mom and Dad off of your back!)

Have you tried on-line learning? What have you discovered worked for you? Please let us know.
And while you are here, check out these related articles you might be helpful:
Live at home student responsibilities
Resiliency and ADHD success
ADHD College Survival Guide

Learn About Edge Executive Function Coaching


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  1. Linda Klos

    Can you tell where or how to find an AD/HA coach for my middle school student? She have been in Virtual School for the past semester and is failing due to her work ethic and inability to stay focused properly. I find that I am unable to help because I am the mother figure and disciplinary. My advise seems to feel like punishment to her.

    Help in this area would be greatly appreciated.