Today’s high school students have the opportunity to add a course to their academic program that enables them to explore a topic of interest at a deeper level outside the traditional classroom setting. This course is typically referred to as an independent study and is most often weighed on the same academic scale as standard courses in an academic catalog. But unlike standard course offerings, an independent study will most likely require approval from the school counselor and parent before a student can enroll.
How does a high school independent study work?
Students who are serious about adding an independent study to their high school programs should make sure they have the space in their schedules before making the commitment. An independent study is time consuming and could potentially interfere with a student’s graduation, if he or she chooses this elective course over a course required for graduation.
Many high schools offer independent study options online, in-person, or via pre-packed programs. Always check with your school counselor before purchasing or enrolling in a program to be sure it’s reputable and a practical academic option for you.
The advantages and disadvantages
An independent study is a golden opportunity for students to add a topic of interest to their curriculum, which not only complements their personal learning styles, but also enables them to explore a certain area of study before college. Plus, many students find success in an independent-learning environment. Finally, an independent study is one of the first times in students’ academic careers where they can demonstrate initiative and build skills—such as self-discipline and time management—that will benefit them in college and beyond.
On the other end of the spectrum, an independent study requires a student to spend a lot of time planning, organizing, and staying on track. And depending on the program, an independent study can be costly. Be sure to do your research and find the option that’s right for you.