Did you know that a non-traditional high school has the potential to better serve your teen than a traditional public high school? Of course, every student is different and so are each student’s personal and academic needs. But for many teens, following the path of a non-traditional high school can often get them farther ahead or foster greater learning engagement.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at what exactly constitutes a non-traditional high school. Then, we’ll evaluate some of the key benefits of choosing non-traditional over a typical high school experience. The end goal is to help you gain a better understanding of which path could be the best for your own teenager.
What is a non-traditional high school?
If you look up the definition of a non-traditional high school, you’ll find that it varies depending on which source you’re reading. That’s because these schools, also referred to as alternative high schools, can differ widely from each other.
There isn’t one set of standards that all non-traditional high schools have. Rather, they can each have different features and facilities that make them unique. Here’s where they all agree, however … non-traditional high schools exist to provide an exceptional learning experience for students needing or wanting different instruction than what is typically available in a traditional classroom setting.
The reasons why students seek out a non-traditional educational environment also varies by student. Some require additional assistance that simply isn’t available in the typical classroom setting with around 30 students and 1 teacher. On the opposite end of the spectrum, gifted students often find that the traditional high school environment isn’t challenging enough and they can go farther faster with the non-traditional route. Still others choose a non-traditional high school because it focuses on a particular area of interest, such as aviation, for example.
Key Advantages of a Non-Traditional High School
Regardless of the reason for choosing an alternative high school, this type of school comes with several distinct advantages.
1. Smaller class sizes compared to public high schools
With a smaller student to teacher ratio, students have greater access to the instructor. The teacher can easily measure whether or not the class has mastered a particular topic. If they have, it’s easy to move on and progress to the next level. But if one or more students requires additional assistance, the instructor can easily provide what’s needed for full understanding and mastery.
2. A variety of teaching methods
Along with the smaller class size comes more flexibility for the teacher. Instead of having the time and space to only teach a topic by one method, the instructor has options.
Perhaps some of the students are auditory learners and prefer listening to lectures to gain understanding of a topic. Others may be more visually inclined, preferring videos or demonstrations. Fewer students in the class means the teacher can use a variety of teaching methods to meet the learning needs of the students.
3. More hands-on learning experiences
A smaller class size also makes it easier for teachers to engage students in learning with hands-on experiences. For some, it’s more affordable simply because there are fewer materials to purchase due to the class size. For others, it’s more feasible because a smaller class can easily visit other relevant locations for hands-on activities. In either case, hands-on experiences give students real life application of the educational principles that they are learning and can further aid in mastery of the material being taught.
4. Flexible scheduling or graduation requirements
In a traditional high school, students attend classes in the classroom, often with a schedule similar to 8:00 am to 2:30 or 3:00 pm. With a non-traditional high school, however, classes may sometimes take place off-site at a location related to the subject matter being taught. Or, there may be a combination of in-person and remote learning experiences. Some alternative high schools may even offer evening classes for nontraditional students who work during the day.
For most traditional high schools, the school year starts in late August or early September and runs through May or June. With a non-traditional high school, however, the academic calendar may cover the entire year, giving students additional learning time and perhaps allowing them to graduate sooner than their public school peers.
Early graduation may also be possible due to smaller class sizes and more personalized education plans. If a student shows mastery of a particular topic, they may be able to move on to the next subject and finish the required coursework at a faster pace.
5. Focus around a particular area of interest
Students are more likely to be engaged in school when they have a significant interest in the topic being taught. Even if they don’t love certain subjects, like math or science, the work can be more palatable if presented in relation to a topic they DO love. For this reason, some alternative high schools focus on a specific industry or occupation, such as the building trades, healthcare, or aviation. With the high school experience being so focused around a particular subject, students are often better equipped to pursue future careers related to that industry.
Non-Traditional High School with an Aviation Focus Serving Dallas Area Teens
Rising Aviation High School is a non-traditional high school located in Addison, TX. While we do teach a STEM-based curriculum like other high schools, the learning experience is geared toward educating students about the aviation industry and preparing them for future aviation careers. Located at the Addison Airport, our campus is uniquely positioned to afford students significant hands-on learning opportunities, including the ability to earn a teen pilot’s license.
If you have a teen student in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex area who is interested in aviation, contact us today to learn more about the programs we offer for high school students.