While some students join OC Online through the homebase of one of our partner schools, and others come to us independent students seeking to take a class or two, we also have a thriving group of full-time students. For these students, OC Online is their entire middle school and/or high school experience. We love the chance to sit down (virtually) with these students from time to time and check in to see what we can learn from them about our work here. We recently had the chance to do this with one of our 2022 graduating seniors. Take a look!
Hi Kailian! We’re so excited for you that you’ve made it to your senior year!! We’d love to hear a bit about your journey at OC Online!
What first brought you to OC Online and what were some of the reasons you stayed a full-time student for most of your middle school and throughout your high school career?
So I came to OC Online as a homeschooler in eighth grade. My family and I were looking for an online program as we tend to move around for my dad’s work and because of the opportunities for dual enrollment and more specialized courses like foreign languages. Through OC Online, I had a chance to receive college credit from its partners Liberty University, Grand Canyon University, and Berklee College of Music.
Foremost among the reasons I stayed full time were the Spiritual Life courses. Mrs. Farinacci and Mr. Paxton created such a healthy community and a safe space to explore my faith and any questions about it and life in general. So many of my teachers here have been so supportive and passionate about their subject, and this was especially significant in my English courses. Writing is my passion, and OC Online’s English course series of Analytical Reading, Grammar and Composition, Rhetoric and Style, and Argumentation and American Ideology is very unique and developed not only my ability to read closely and critically and to build a sophisticated argument but also my critical thinking overall from logical fallacies to how an author’s worldview informed their work. I think that’s invaluable in an age where there is so much information out there that students need to be prepared to engage with it critically and with discernment. So just the attitude of OC Online and its teachers towards learning, through courses that not only allow but also challenge you to make those connections between the material and why you believe what you believe, was a compelling reason that I continued with OC Online.
One of the things we love about OC Online is that it allows students the flexibility to work school around life instead of the other way around. What were some of the cool things outside of school you had a chance to do while you were here?
I was able to dedicate time to writing and music. I play violin and piano, and between the lessons and ensembles and competitions, that flexibility made a world of difference. One of my favorite things about OC Online is the student body, as a lot of us have these passions and projects. Like I had classes with students who had their own businesses or were starting up their acting or music careers, and it was so inspirational and a privilege to get to know and work alongside them. In 2020 when everything with music was shut down or on hold, I started a not-for-profit group where high school students write and publish short stories and donate the proceeds to charity. I think that idea as well as the confidence that I even could do something like that came from being around students who were making great strides with their passions and toward future careers. Right now, I’m also revising my third novel in a Biblical fiction series and wrapping up working with an editor on my second novel, so it’s opened so many doors and opportunities to have that flexibility from an online program.
What comes next for you after OC Online? What are you most excited about and what are you still working out?
I’ll be attending Taylor University, majoring in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. I chose Taylor for its strong Christian community and because it has some great opportunities through its English department, so I’m looking forward to finding people there who will share my love of writing and challenge me to grow as a person as well as in my faith. I’m definitely a little nervous going onto a college campus after being homeschooled and then online and it’s really far from home, but I also feel prepared and confident that the Lord is going to open doors for me to serve the community there and to grow from the experience.
What did you find most meaningful and most fun about OC Online?
For those courses and teachers that were most impactful and where I really connected with the material and the instructor, especially in my English and Bible courses, I think one thing that contributed to that is that the classes at OC Online do tend to be smaller. So if you’re proactive about it, you can really step into those student-teacher relationships and go beyond the course and make your learning your own.
Probably what’s been most fun about OC Online has been the Student Life course that started in my junior year. I think it’s strengthened our community to have those outlets whether that’s movie night or baking night or coming together as a team for a charity 5k. We also have a middle and high school book club, which I had the privilege and opportunity to lead in my junior and senior years. It takes extra work to have that kind of community in an online setting, so it’s been exciting to see OC Online continue to build ways for students to connect.
What are some misconceptions people have about being an online student that you didn’t find to be the case at OC Online?
I think a common misconception is that online school is easier. Though it has that flexibility, it can be just as time-consuming and demanding as an in-person school. As a college-preparatory program, students will need to be conscious of their pacing and course load and schedule so they don’t take on too much. Another misconception I think has to do with the fact that different online schools have different levels of flexibility. OC Online actually has a lot more structure than some programs. Assignments are due on a weekly basis, and the pacing closely resembles some of the online college courses I’ve taken. So online is not necessarily the easier option and not necessarily an option that is less demanding of effort or time.
What’s a message you have for prospective families trying to decide if OC Online is a good full-time student fit for them?
OC Online will challenge your student and promote a lot of growth between the level of the courses and the responsibility of managing their workload. I have taken courses from other online programs and can say that OC Online has a very healthy community for full-time students. As I mentioned before, I’ve loved the smaller classes, the unique courses, the opportunities. At the same time, I’d have to acknowledge that online learning is not for everyone. I think some students like the flexibility and are good with the extra discipline required while other students learn better with more structure and don’t fare as well learning on their own. As a homeschooler, online was a natural step for me. I imagine it might be harder to transition from in-person to full-time online. So a lot depends on the fit more than anything. I think the main thing students at OC Online struggle with is pacing. Some are used to more structure and others are used to less. I was the latter. It helped me a lot that I’d taken part-time online courses before, so I’d gotten my feet wet before I started full-time. Again, OC Online is college-preparatory so it’s very rigorous, but I think students who are driven, who are attracted to the opportunities and learning environment OC Online provides, and who have a plan to use that flexibility for their interests outside of school will find that OC Online is a unique program where they can thrive.
Thank you so much for sharing about your OC Online experience! Congratulations on your upcoming graduation and we wish you all the best as you continue your academic journey at Taylor University!