Stanford Online High School enters second decade

In June, 62 seniors will receive diplomas from Stanford Online High School (OHS) and mark a milestone for the thriving virtual secondary school. Founded in 2006, OHS celebrated its first graduating class of two in 2007 and continues to grow in enrollment and reputation.

At Stanford OHS, students are prepared for college beyond just getting in. They master critical thinking skills, develop intellectual independence, utilize time-management skills and take advanced classes with students from 45 states and 27 countries.

“The classes are all on a college level, and I’ve never been so engaged and excited about learning,” one freshman said.

Umar, Class of 2021, Hillsborough, New Jersey (Photo courtesy of Stanford Online High School)
UMAR, Class of 2021, Hillsborough, New Jersey (Photo courtesy of Stanford Online High School)

All OHS classes are held “synchronously”; that is, students and teachers meet electronically in live seminars, which allow them to interact in much the same fashion as they would in a brick-and-mortar classroom. The classrooms are “flipped,” meaning students listen to lectures and read material in advance of the class. Class time is reserved for discussion and lively interaction. Students debate, discuss, question and respond in the same virtual space. Technology facilitates the collaboration. Students comment through a running text chat, annotate onscreen materials and share ideas on a common whiteboard.

The school’s four-year interdisciplinary core sequence equips students with skills in careful reading, critical thinking, and oral and written argumentation. Courses are designed and taught by instructors who are experts in their fields, with 68 percent holding doctoral degrees. Students and teachers hold one another to high expectations as they delve into material at a depth and with the rigor that is consistent with Stanford’s academic standards.

“Our curriculum challenges the world’s most talented students. Students are placed by ability – and enriched by their academically passionate peers,” said JEFFREY SCARBOROUGH, the school’s director of curriculum.

In addition to the advanced seminars, a vibrant student life program builds community through more than 50 student-led online clubs and activities. Students have the opportunity come together each summer for an intensive two-week in-person program on the Stanford campus. The school also is dedicated to helping students navigate the college application process.

“Counseling resources are the best available, as evidenced by the very high acceptance rate to first-choice colleges,” a parent noted in a survey.

And it is working. Seniors this year received early acceptance letters into such colleges as Bowdoin, Caltech, Duke, Harvey Mudd, MIT and Williams. SAT scores are among the best in the nation. Current students include entrepreneurs, published book authors and world-class athletes.

Last week, Stanford OHS garnered a Number Two spot among private high schools for college readiness, in a ranking published by Business Insider and compiled by Niche, a website that evaluates secondary schools, colleges and universities. To determine college readiness, Niche evaluated more than 8,000 schools on composite SAT and ACT scores, the caliber of colleges graduates attend, the percentage of students who matriculate to four-year institutions and survey responses from students and parents.

“Stanford OHS is a vibrant community of engaged teachers, students and staff. As we enter our second decade, we still have much to do, but this recognition indicates that we’re on our way,” said MARYANN JANOSIK, head of school.

To celebrate the 10th graduating class, Stanford OHS will host a number of events during graduation weekend in June.