High school students across the United States are passionate about playing sports. But, it is difficult to excel in both athletics and academics on a traditional high school schedule that requires student-athletes to be in a classroom from 7am – 3pm.
That’s why elite athletes turn to non-traditional options like online high school to get a great education that works with their athletic schedule, not against it. Grace Wey from Sugar Land, Texas is one of those student-athletes who struggled to balance the demands of her local high school with competitive swimming.
“If I hadn’t switched to ALVS for my senior year, I don’t think I would have been able to go to Texas A&M. I wasn’t at the level to go there. I couldn’t train as much when I went to public school because I had a seven-hour school day.” – Grace WeyGrace and her parents decided she needed to switch to a school that could give her the flexibility she needed to train while getting a good education. After a lot of research and trying another private online high school, the Wey family decided that earning a high school diploma at Apex Learning Virtual School was the best fit for Grace’s senior year.
While attending ALVS, Grace was able to get faster and improve her ranking from 260 to 130. As a result, she earned a spot on the No. 9 ranked Texas A&M women’s swim team. We are so proud of Grace for graduating early from ALVS in April, giving her a much-deserved break between high school and college. She begins training with the Texas A&M swim team at the end of May.
Earlier this month, I interviewed Grace and her mom, Karen Wey, to hear more about their experience with ALVS.
Keep reading to learn how:
Laura: Why did you decide to move to an online program instead of staying at a traditional school?
Karen: Grace wanted to do public school because of the social activities but with her swimming, it was too exhausting. She would leave the house at five in the morning and not get home until eight at night. She would have to go right from swimming to school, and then from school right to swimming. She couldn’t eat enough because they wouldn’t let her eat in the classroom. She swims four hours a day and needed to eat a lot of calories so being able to eat throughout the day was really important for her.
Laura: What made you choose our program?
Karen: I did a ton of searching online before I found ALVS. I chose ALVS because it is affordable, NCAA approved, and the courses are user-friendly and easy to navigate.
Laura: Were you looking at other programs when you decided for her (Grace) senior year to go into an online program?
Karen: We tried another private online high school before coming to ALVS. It was more expensive, and the courses were not user-friendly at all. I was really impressed by ALVS just after previewing the courses. I liked the way they were laid out and that you can print everything out. I think being able to print out the course pages is really important for students coming from a traditional school.
Laura: Knowing what you know now about online high school is such a great fit for Grace, would you have enrolled her sooner in her high school career?
Karen: I think there’s a trade-off for elite athletes between having the traditional high school experience and competing at a high level. You can’t have both. Grace wanted to have the social aspect of school and do swimming. Doing both of those things at the same time was really difficult, so this year she said, “forget it, I can’t do it anymore.” She missed out on some stuff but she did still see her friends.
Laura: Being an athlete, it was crucial that she was on track with her NCAA requirements. Did you feel confident that she was taken care of in that aspect?
Karen: Joe, Grace’s school counselor, made sure Grace’s transcript was right even though she had attended several other schools before coming to ALVS. He’s definitely good about answering all of our questions and making sure Grace was meeting NCAA eligibility requirements.
Sign up for a complimentary NCAA transcript evaluation. Joseph O'Leary, Head of Academic Advising at ALVS and member of the NCAA high school advisory board, will personally review your player’s transcript to make sure they are on track to meet NCAA eligibility requirements.
Laura: How was ALVS a good fit for you with your swimming schedule and getting ahead?
Grace: I have morning practice from 5:00-6:45 in the morning. It was hard to get to school on time. After I started at ALVS I could take a nap after practice before doing my school work. It was a lot easier to schedule it all.
Laura: How did you find the pace of the course with the amount of work you needed to do? Was it manageable, overwhelming, easy to catch up if you ever got behind?
Grace: The pace of the course was manageable. I went on a few vacations and had swim meets that got me a little behind, but it was easy to catch up. Since I could go at my own pace and take a few days off for swimming, it helped me focus on swimming more when I had swim meets and more on school when I just had practice.
Laura: What was it like switching to an online program where you’re working very independently?
Grace: Once I figured out online high school, I realized that there was a lot of wasted time when I wasn’t doing much in public school. There was more direct learning in my online classes and less busy work.
Laura: Did you feel empowered at all knowing that you were in charge of your own leaning?
Grace: I had to do it myself. I had to take control of my own learning. I had to be the one motivating myself to do the work… I was able to graduate early, about a month before my friends, which gave me time to go on vacation and have some time before I start summer session and practicing at Texas A&M.
Laura: Did you see any changes in your swimming after you started at ALVS?
Grace: My swimming improved after I started going to ALVS. I could train more and I wasn’t stressed out or tired anymore.
Karen: At the beginning of the season, Grace was ranked 260th in the country. Now, she is ranked 130th. I think she got faster because of the flexibility of ALVS. There is so much wasted time in public school and she felt trapped. Being stuck in school really bothered her. So, I told her, imagine if I dropped you off at school and you could take your classes and then leave for an hour and then go back and take another class. She said she would have loved that. It’s more like a college schedule.
Laura: Do you think that switching to online school so you could swim, rest, and not be stressed-out played a part in you getting your scholarship to Texas A&M?
Grace: If I hadn’t switched to ALVS for my senior year, I don’t think I would have been able to go to Texas A&M. I wasn’t at the level to go there. I couldn’t train as much when I went to public school because I had a seven hours school day. I was stressed out and I felt like I was trapped in the building because I couldn’t leave for lunch. I was always hungry, and I couldn’t eat in class.
Laura: I know you didn’t love math when you were in a traditional school, did that change at all when you started math with ALVS?
Grace: I learned to like math. I really liked my online math class because I actually taught myself a lot of the math. That is going to help me for college because you have to teach yourself from the textbook a lot. If I missed a material covered in Elementary or Middle School, I looked at outside resources. It really helped me to have the time to do that. In my public school math classes they taught me how to do the problem, at ALVS I got more information about why I was learning it. It was more interesting.
Karen: My husband, who is an engineer, said that the Precalculus course at ALVS was way more advanced than the one offered at the public high school. He thought the ALVS course was extremely comprehensive. He said, “everything’s here.” At the public high school, they didn’t seem to give all of the background information.
Laura: Our courses were created to be comprehensive and rigorous. Did you find that to be true?
Karen: The English courses were hard, but a good kind of hard. Grace had to read pretty intense literature like Frankenstein, Beowulf, and Shakespeare. But the videos helped provide a background and make the texts more accessible. I was more involved with helping Grace with her English course, but it was fun for me. Sometimes she has a hard time starting essays and I think a lot of kids have trouble with that. I would get her started and then walk away and she would finish it all.
Grace: The English course taught me a lot. I really liked how I could have the course read aloud to me. The course included a summary after I read the text that helped explain the story.
Karen: Grace’s teachers responded to her questions really quickly. We were really impressed with the coursework too. There was a lot of repetition which was good because if she didn’t get it the first time she’d eventually get it. And she could go faster through sections she didn’t need as much practice with.
Laura: What advice would you give to someone starting online school?
Grace: The advice I would give to someone just starting online high school is to stay organized. And, don’t get discouraged at the beginning because you don’t get to see your friends all the time. I know it was hard for me because I went from a social environment to working independently. I still got to hang out with friends from my old school, which helped.
Laura: Do you feel like graduating from ALVS has helped you outside of athletics?
Grace: Going to ALVS definitely taught me to be a lot more organized. In public school, I found it harder to stay organized because they give you so much stuff you wouldn’t use. At ALVS, I learned how to print out coursework and study sheets and put them into binders.
Karen: I think that ALVS has prepared her for online courses in college. She now has experience with online curriculum and tracking her progress.
Congratulations to Grace on earning your ALVS high school diploma and moving on to the next level in athletics and academics at Texas A&M!
For more information about our accredited private online high school, call 206-489-1079 or visit https://www.apexlearningvs.com/our-full-time-academy/.