Stanford is well-known for its undergraduate and graduate education. Yet here in the heart of Silicon Valley, it’s not surprising to learn the university is also home to a virtual high school. Founded in 2006, Stanford Online High School (OHS) has grown from graduating two seniors in 2007 to 49 in 2015. This year marks a milestone as the school will celebrate 10 years of granting diplomas with the Class of 2016.
One of the nation’s first independent online high schools, Stanford OHS draws students from more than 45 states and 27 countries. It serves students seeking rigorous coursework and an innovative learning environment, as well as those spending significant time on pursuits outside the classroom.
“Stanford OHS attracts academically talented students from around the world, many of whom are pursuing passions outside of school in sports, arts and business,” said MaryAnn Janosik, Stanford OHS head of school.
Students follow a flexible college-style schedule and can be enrolled full-time, part-time or in a single course. In addition, the school offers a full complement of academic advising, counseling and college counseling services.
The school’s online teaching and learning model actively defies the typical notion of isolated students listening to recorded lectures. Advanced video conferencing technology allows students and instructors to see each other in classes held in real time. The interaction is lively. 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.
Building a thriving intellectual and extracurricular community is a top priority for the school. Many students begin the year with a Summer@Stanford residential program. For two intensive weeks, they get to know their instructors, engage in hands-on learning and develop bonds with their classmates. Students and families gather for meetups in locations around the globe, and immersion travel provides additional opportunities to connect. Student-driven extracurricular activities include debate, Model U.N., newspaper, yearbook, and language clubs – in short, much of what is found in a traditional high school.
Stanford OHS is part of Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies, which offers a range of programs for pre-college students. In High School Summer College, students take university courses together with Stanford undergraduates. Pre-Collegiate Institutes immerse students in the study of humanities, mathematics, medicine and the arts. Additional opportunities include online university-level math and science courses.