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I enrolled into this school in 6th grade, I was excited for it but then it started to be really hard because it's a brand new thing that I am not use to using. I struggled the whole year but I decided to stay the at Connections for the next few years and my grades went up DRAMATICALLY. I knew how the system worked so I knew what to expect. They do have a quite a bit of school work to do but you eventually just get the hang of it. Honestly, it's not hard at all if you actually read the assignments. The teachers help when you call. I still go to this school and I am now in 11th grade. Going to Connections Academy was the best decision I've ever made.
I enrolled here for 6th grade. It is hell. So much work is adding up in a pile. I also have a very short attention span for school work so I seem to drift away very quickly. I use this on my gaming computer. My computer has a high end RTX 2070 with 16 gb of DDR4 Ram and a Ryzen 7 2700X processor. It hurts me to do boring work and be so close to all the Triple A games I own. I also learn more in a 5 minute video than in a lesson that takes me 1 hour.
I started at Connections Academy in Pennsylvania in sixth grade and graduated in 2016 from CA. I’m now entering my final year in my undergrad and graduate programs and wanted to write an honest review about the middle and high school that got me here. What You Need to Succeed: Ambition, Drive, Dedication. CA is not a normal public school. In a traditional school setting, students spend their day sitting in lessons and doing assignments. They face in-person consequences if work is not completed. In cyber school this is simply not the case. Work is done when the student wants to do it and distraction is very easy to come by.
Learning Materials and Lessons:
Learning comes in three forms: through live lessons, textbooks, and/or the lesson pop-ups themselves.
- Live Lessons (LLs): A live lesson is a recorded classroom meeting between the teacher and any students who wish to attend. The teacher shares their computer screen with the students and uses a microphone and/or video feed to teach the lesson. Students can communicate directly with the teacher and other students through an active chat pod. These LLs are recorded for other students to watch.
- Textbook: CA will ship you all relevant textbooks and provide digital copies of them as well. Some classes do not utilize textbooks whatsoever (specifically for high school electives) and students must rely on LLs and lesson pop-ups for learning.
- Lesson Pop-Ups: I’m not actually sure what these are called. But basically every day the student has regularly scheduled classes that come up on their planner. Each class has an individual lesson link that you click on and a pop-up comes up. On that pop-up is an overview of the lesson, extra learning materials, activities, readings, and assignments. If you miss a lesson, they pile up and become “overdue” (though there is no penalty for overdue lessons, unless this policy has changed).
It is important to note that ALL of these are optional, and that’s where ambition, drive, and dedication come into play. Without them your student will spend the next so-many years of their education scraping by and learning nothing. My Experience & Strategy:
Middle-School: In middle-school, teachers kept a much closer reign on us in one specific way: they would often phone home, ask questions about the lessons over the phone, and ask to speak to a parental guardian. This is because it is expected that a parent be home with the student during the school day. These phone calls ceased during high school (perhaps due to age, or perhaps because school policy changed).
Overall: I never had patience for live lessons and never attended them live. I would watch recordings of LLs for my math classes only (these were invaluable). In essence, I self-taught myself for 6 years using textbooks. This has its advantages because exams and quizzes are usually word-for-word from the textbook (as the textbook authors generally write exam questions for teachers to use). It also saved me from having to watch the LLs for an hour, read the textbook, take notes, and take assignments. This is where many parents complain because their children get caught up in doing too many things. Honestly, you need to find what works for you (be it LLs or textbooks) and stick with that.
Teachers were very helpful if you reached out to them. You cannot be shy—in cyber school, no news is good news. If you are not communicating with your teachers you WILL fall behind and get buried underneath things you don’t understand. I had numerous math teachers who I could literally call when I had questions on my math tests and they would help me through the exam, but only because I reached out for help.
In addition, some teachers will use the quick checks, quizzes, and tests that are in the lesson pop-ups. In my experience many of these questions were poorly written or incorrect. If I noticed a question was out of order I emailed my teacher with the evidence and they would fix my grade if I was correct. By the time I was finishing high school many of the teachers had started making their own tests and hosting them on Google forms. This had a lot of benefits because these tests better reflected lesson material (especially for math) and test questions would change if you closed and reopened the window (meaning you’d have to start over if you exited a window accidentally). I had some English teachers who would help me navigate tricky questions one exams if I called them as well. But make sure you take exams/quizzes during business hours so teachers are available for you to call.
Is cyber school more work? Yes. It is. But it’s not as bad as some of the reviewers make it seem. When you first join cyber it is very overwhelming because you think you have to do everything in the lesson pop-ups. You don’t. Actually, for most classes, you only need to do two things: read the textbook pages assigned (usually 5-7 pages) and take a quick check (QC) (a short “test” between 3-5 questions). The other things (activities, videos, extra text) are usually irrelevant (unless it’s an English class (consider that a pro-tip)).
What does suck is that for most classes, at least in high school, you take QCs every single day, and these small tests usually make up 10% of your overall grade for the school year. Which means that your grade is on the line every day when you take a lesson. I think they instituted this policy because kids weren’t taking the QCs seriously enough and they were letting their textbook readings pile up to extreme levels.
In CA’s high school you get to take classes you normally wouldn’t. Some of the offerings when I was in school included some basic medical classes and business classes. Which means you can get a taste of what you want to go to college for while you’re still in high school. Also, scheduling is not a problem. In a brick-and-mortar school you wouldn’t be able to schedule two classes at one time, but in cyber school the “timing” of classes is of no concern.
You can work ahead or work behind. For my elective classes I would dedicate a week to finishing them for the entire semester so I would only have to work on my major classes during the year. You can also take time off if you need it and let your work pile up, or you can work ahead and finish school early for the summer (I would usually get an extra 3 weeks to my summer break as a result). You can work at night if you’re more productive, or on the weekends. Your schedule is up to you.
Drawbacks:• No real school experience. (I have no friends from my time in cyber school and only met my classmates on my graduation day.) (You do have opportunities to join virtual clubs and go on field trips but if you live in remote areas, you’ll have difficulty with this.)
• Poor communication about college credit opportunities that can hurt you in the long run (no one communicated with me the value of AP classes or mentioned CLEP exams while I was at CA, and thus I had to do catching up in college in order to accomplish my goals).
The Result: With CA I graduated high school in 2016 with over a 4.00. Because of the flexible scheduling I was able to do a lot of extracurriculars and spend time with family. Even though my parent earn too much money for me to qualify for most scholarships, my GPA and class history with CA was able to get me an $11,000-yearly scholarship to my university.
In high school I was able to take several business classes which helped me pick my majors in college (I ended up going for marketing, management, and HR). Because CA didn’t communicate with me the credit-value of AP classes and CLEP exams I had to take a full course schedule throughout college (in addition to working) and take CLEP exams on the side (8 total) to make up the credits I needed to graduate with my majors and an MBA in 4 years (through an integrate undergrad and graduate program). Overall, I can actually say I learned a lot in CA without having to worry about the pressures of a traditional school. But I had to work long hours to get there. Would I recommend it? Yes (if you’re dedicated).
When I first started this school it was great. I had to beg my parents to allow me to go to this school, and at first I thought it was perfectly worth it. I enjoyed it for about three weeks, easily would've been five stars if it stayed like that. But then suddenly after three weeks, 'work at your own pace', became non-existent as they started to overload me with assignments, AND the teachers would get mad at you. I got yelled at by my homeroom teacher (whom I will not name), for having one overdue lesson, even though I have a 504 saying I'm allowed to take my time on each lesson (even if you don't have a disability they're supposed to allow you lessons behind).
When I went to public school I would often learn things that are more advanced than my grade. My teachers have accused me of cheating multiple times, but with no proof, because I used something they didn't teach me yet... Before enrolling in this school I had plenty of friends and was really happy. After being in this school for half a year... I lost all of my friends because I was busy with school work, there is no way to make more friends with this school, I got diagnosed with anxiety and depression. My migraine problem has gotten worse and I have started to have fainting spells (neurologist says it's because of stress).
I begged my parents so much for this school and worked so hard to convince them, that they won't let me switch back to public school. I used to be a straight A student, and had never had anything under a C in my entire life. Since starting this school I barely passed last year and this year, I'm not sure if I will pass. If this school shuts down my life will instantly improve and it will be the best day of my life.
TL;DR: This school ruined mine and many other peoples lives, trust me, don't enroll in the school. If you go to Connections Academy right now, feel it out, see if you have the same opinion as me. If you do feel the same as me please leave a review so we can get this school shut down, or at least stop other people from having to go through it.
Enrolled my kindergartener and omg was this the wrong decision! The amount of homework and daily lessons given was beyond overwhelming. Click here...take this assessment. 6 workbooks, art materials, webcams and several hours of time. Way too much for my 5 yr old’s attention span. Some of the tests were a hour long! I haven’t met a 5 yr old that can sit in one spot for a hour. SMH. I would never do this again.
At first, the teachers and everyone seems so helpful and wants to get you enrolled. I specified that email is best communication, as I have very bad cell service and work from home. They say that this is not a homeschool and actually a public school but however I disagree. When my kids went to an actual public school, their grades were above average. At this school they are plunging fast and have no assistance from the teachers or principal. They even locked my parental account to submit their assignments because I didn't call them or receive their calls, when from the get-go I specified EMAIL was the best form of communication but all of the sudden that was not acceptable. Do not waste your time and send your kids here. It is more hardship and the education received is BELOW what kids need. I am withdrawing them ASAP.
Utah Connections Academy lacks the professional experience necessary to adequately meet the individual needs to its students. It took at least four years for UCA to have an assessment conducted on my son. The findings of the assessment paired the findings of an independent neurological Completed and submitted to the school, the prior year. The school called in a specialist to help with the IEP because the current team of administrators lacked knowledge of the process and failed to provide appropriately for my son.
As a result of our family’s experience at UCA, I filed a Complaint with the Utah State Board of Education. UCA has continued to openly refuse to follow through the State’s findings that would be in my child’s best interest. You are welcome to find me on FB and I will share the Complaint and Findings with you. You can also call the State Board and request a copy. If you have a child with special needs unenroll him now. If they have refused to provide assessments or provide services file a State Complaint.
Lady told me tuition to join this school for just one year would be nearly $6,000. That's nearly more than half of what I paid to get my degree for college. And not to mention if you enroll your child 3 months after their school starts, your child has to quickly catch up to ALL the work since ICA started. That's too much work.
My son was failing in the open classroom. He could do the work if someone explained it to him. He rarely understood what was required of him and was passed on to the next grade because he was not a problem. I started him at home with Connections Academy. We worked together daily online through his classes. He began to understand and work through the modules himself and for the first time experienced a success. There are many classes he can do independently but there are also several we do together. This school does require parent participation. I know exactly what he is learning. He is more confident in his abilities and learning to be more self-directed. I do have to encourage him daily and push him to complete his classes. This is a great program for children who are self directed and also good for those who need pushed.
If you are a parent who is willing to review lessons, encourage and even be the teacher some days, then this school is for you and your child. I have a website called ** to encourage parents who have their children in this program or are considering it. I have a masters degree in Informatics, which is the study of how information flows across and through systems. I think this program is one of the best I have seen at presenting information in manageable increments. I have been able to email or phone his teachers with issues and help when we are stuck. I am an involved parent and know what classes my son needs me to sit down and help him with and what ones he can do by himself. This is his 4th year with Connections Academy and he gets better and better. Every job available to our children as adults will require interaction with a computer. Allowing them to learn on one can only benefit them in a career or college.
Connections Academy Company Information
- Company Name:
- Connections Academy
- Year Founded:
- 1001 Fleet Street, 5th Floor
- Postal Code:
- United States
- (800) 382-6010
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