I met a young woman this weekend. Her neighborhood high school is considered quite good. It is in a largely white, middle and upper-middle class section of southern California. Largely on her own, with the support of her parents, she has “hacked together” a completely personalized high school learning experience.
She takes online courses at a nearby charter school that has both on-campus and virtual options. She started taking courses at her local community college during her sophomore year of high school as they offered courses that are just not available in high schools. She likes biology; her lab partners are just as often “moms who are coming back to school to complete a degree” as they are high school or college-aged students.
The flexibility of her schedule allows her to pursue her passion for competitive dance, which also gives her a social community that she might otherwise miss from a more traditional high school experience.
This young woman is confident; she will have no problem structuring a college degree that evolves to meet her interests. She will have at least a year of college completed when she arrives at a four-year college next year. Little of this would have been possible even a decade ago.
“School” has already morphed with opportunities for many families. This is the face and nature of K-12 learning, at least for some students and their families, and we are just seeing the tip of this iceberg. How can your school compete for these students? Partner; develop hybrid programs; evolve alongside the shifting market, not by standing firmly against it. These new school constructs are serving customer demands, and no institution can survive forever if they don’t do just that.