The Booming Popularity of Online Classes for Juniors and Underclassmen


Anders Law

Senior Luka Gvenetadze demonstrates logging into Fulton Virtual.

Anders Law, Staff Writer

Online classes have long been a staple of senior year. The flexibility of online classes is perfect for seniors wanting an open schedule.

Cambridge is the largest consumer of online classes in Fulton, with so many kids taking online courses that the school has dedicated online teachers, which Administrative Assistant Tonekia Phairr said is unusual.

A big factor contributing to seniors’ ability to take online classes is that they can drive home. So many seniors have cars this year that senior parking has spilled into the stadium lot.

It makes sense that seniors are the biggest grade for online classes. But that could be changing soon.

An increasing number of non-seniors are taking online classes. The number of kids taking online classes over the last year increased for every grade but seniors.

Underclassmen taking online classes through Fulton Virtual has been on a big rise. For instance, the number class enrollments (not total students) among 9th graders doubled from 30 in Fall 2019 to 77 in Fall 2019.

Among 10th graders, enrollment jumped from 44 to 242 classes. That is a 550% increase in a single year.

Juniors have increased also, going from 64 enrollments to 244 over the same period. This constitutes an increase of more than 380%.

But why, considering that underclassmen can’t drive and juniors must still take PAWS?

Georgia Virtual School (GAVS) has some ideas as to why: according to their virtual help desk, “Students desire enrollment in online courses to increase the course offerings available to them, get ahead on graduation requirements, alleviate scheduling conflicts, and have the opportunity to experience online learning prior to post-secondary education plans.”

But students at the school voiced a variety of additional reasons for taking online classes.

Around seven of the 10 juniors and underclassmen interviewed said the courses are just plain easier.

Junior Cole Suplee said that while the class being easier wasn’t the only reason he was taking online health, it definitely didn’t hurt.

“It’s a nice break,” Suplee said.

Most students echoed Suplee’s belief, saying the ease of the class was a factor.

So students get a break, but underclassmen would need a ride to go home, so most end up staying in the Student Center.

Students stuck at school without a class said they pass the time with a mix of activities, from work to Netflix to video games.

A little over half of the students asked said they took online courses because they wanted more sleep.

According to the website for Nationwide Childrens, a pediatric medical center in Columbus, Ohio, teenagers need nine hours of sleep, but only get an average of seven.

Junior Erik Holemen, who is on the varsity soccer team, said getting as much sleep as possible is crucial to him playing his sport.

“Sleep is important to anyone playing soccer,” Holemen said.

The third most common reason students gave for taking online classes was freeing up their schedule.

Many students are extremely busy, and online classes can give them time to work on other classes.

Freshman Clayton Waller said he likes his online class because he gets to focus more on electives.

“I get to spend more time on engineering, a passion of mine,” Waller said.

Mrs. Phairr stands behind all these reasons, saying that it’s great kids can “still get an education, but aren’t tied down.”