Up-to-date to my understanding as of February 14th, 2021
Disclaimer: I do not represent Florida Virtual School in any way, I am just a student with FLVS who is writing about my experience and knowledge attending the school.
Florida Virtual School, or FLVS for short, is a public e-learning platform located in Florida. This platform is quite popular among home education students and those who are looking to accelerate their learning on their own terms. FLVS is free for all Florida residents and is separated as FLVS Flex, FLVS Full Time, and FLVS Global (for out of state enrollment.) To first understand the advantages and disadvantages of FLVS, we must first discuss the differences between these separate entities in FLVS. This is just my viewpoint and stuff I can see, take it with a pinch of salt and make sure to compare with other sources. This will have a focus on Home Schooling, but the information should hold true for those using FLVS in a brick and mortar school.
Flex vs. Full Time vs. Global
FLVS Flex is, as the name suggests, a flexible curriculum, and is usually what is taken by those that are in Public School/Private School and want to take FLVS courses on the side. Flex has a rolling enrollment system, and you can take up to 6 courses at any time, even during the summer! This means that over the summer, you could get ahead with Flex. Flex has some caveats though, most notable that as a home school student you are not able to get a diploma with Flex. Flex is not able to issue a diploma, only issue credits that can be accepted by FLVS Full Time or your local school. So, as a home school student, you can take FLVS Flex up until your 12th grade year, where you will then switch to Full Time. High School course catalog, Middle School course catalog, Elementary School course catalog. For the Full Time courses, just select that tab on the site.
- Flexible schedule (including working during the summer) and course load.
- EOCs (such as Algebra 1, US History, Geometry) are optional for FLVS Flex home school students, as long as you get a Concordant score to replace the Algebra 1 EOC and Grade 10 FSA ELA. This is accurate as of writing, please double check this if you’re planning on doing this. This is assuming you are getting a diploma with FLVS Full Time, so this route is mainly for my home education friends who are taking Flex and want to switch to Full Time. If you are planning on getting your diploma with a private high school, check with them and see if the EOC/Concordant scores are even required, for me they are as I am planning on switching to Full Time. In general, this means that many tough EOCs that count for a lot of your grade can be knocked off, and you can focus on the course work alone. Some, like myself, don’t do amazing on high stress final exams, so having the option to escape as many as possible is quite nice.
- You can graduate early and take extra courses. In my current year (11th) I decided I wanted to take AP Calc BC in my Senior year, issue is, is that I did Algebra 1 in my 9th grade year, meaning in a traditional school setting I would sadly only be able to take up to Pre-Calculus, and then Calc 1 and 2 in my Freshman year of College. With Flex, I can take 7 courses this year, including 2 math classes! If you have the stamina and courage, you too can torture yourself for academic gain like I did and get ahead. This means in my Senior year, when I switch to Full Time, I will only be taking 5 courses, and my AP Calc BC is going to be an elective, not a math course.
- Rolling enrollment, so you can join later/earlier in the year and finish later/earlier, within boundaries of course, especially as a Home Education student who has to report to the Home Education office.
- You can’t get your diploma with Flex as a Home Education student, though you can switch to Full Time in your 12th grade year.
FLVS Full Time
FLVS Full Time, as the name suggests, is a more standard and full time curriculum, and is taken by those who exclusively do FLVS. When you sign up for Full Time, you are a Public School student and earn a state-issued High School diploma at the end. This means that you have to meet all the State issued laws and requirements as a Public School student. This is a good thing though for many, as it provides a level of familiarity from those coming from a Public School environment, and it provides a lot of structure. Full Time follows a typical school year (August to May) and means that you must enroll by a specific time, and be completed by a specific time. Full Time students are required to take exams, including EOCs.
- More structured than Flex, including enrollment and such.
- You are a Public School student, not a Home Education student, which is important to some.
- You will receive a state issued diploma, just like anyone attending a public high school.
- You will be able to participate in a traditional High School graduation ceremony.
- EOCs must be taken, which can be viewed as a disadvantage.
- Courses are not as flexible as Flex, you can’t take courses in the summer or breaks and must follow a more rigorous schedule.
FLVS Global is just like FLVS Full Time, but you live elsewhere than Florida. FLVS Global is certified by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and accredited by AdvanceED. I am not very familiar with FLVS Global, though you will be paying for it on a tuition basis.
Advantages and Disadvantages of FLVS compared to Public School
Advantages over Public School
- Flexible schedule, you can do course work on your terms in your home. There is a certain joy that can be found learning on your couch, in a park, sitting at your desk, or wherever you choose.
- Great course selections, AP, Honors, and Dual Enrollment options. If you’re into STEM, there are quite a lot of good STEM options.
- Amazing for those who get stressed easily with exams or forget things easily. All course exams and quizzes are open note, so if you take great notes, you will get great scores.
- Large selection of clubs, far more than most schools have.
- Great for credit recovery.
Disadvantages over Public School
- Assuming you are Home Education or a student with Full Time, you can lack a social outlet compared to your peers in a typical school. School is not only an academic outlet but also a social one, do not torture yourself or your kid with Home schooling if you do not have a social outlet. I am lucky and have a great number of friends I have met through other means than school, but if you can’t provide that for yourself as a student or provide that for your kid, don’t do this sort of thing, it will suck for them.
- There is a certain thing you miss when it comes to Public School that goes with the Social outlet point, but a bit further. We Home School kids miss out on things like Prom, Sports games, etc. These things are important to some, for me they are super overrated so I don’t mind.
- If you can’t self-teach well this isn’t for you. Teachers do not teach, you teach yourself, the teachers are there for assistance.
FLVS Do’s and Don’ts
Now that we know what FLVS is, and you are now a student as you can see just how awesome it is, what should you do as a student? What shouldn’t you do? These are good questions that can sometimes not be clear as a new student. Some of these Do’s and Don’ts are subject to debate among the FLVS Community. These are my opinions and you should take them as such.
- Do take good notes if you struggle in a class. Some classes for me I didn’t need to take heavy notes, either because they are easier for me or the resources given by the teachers were adequate.
- Do read the home screen that your teacher has, and pay special attention to any resource sections. These will often have great links to help with your study, including guided notes, videos for lessons, and power points. Use these, you’re an absolute moron if you don’t.
- Do ask your teachers for help, they are there to help you. If you have a hard time with a topic, just ask a question.
- Do read the Unofficial FLVS Reddit and join the Unofficial FLVS Discord Server. For the Discord Server you will need to verify you’re with FLVS or join as a guest. A school is only good as the community, and FLVS has a thriving online one which you should participate in!
- Do speak to your counselor regularly. These guys are your best friends, and you should treat them as such. They work tirelessly to make sure you know what you are doing. Speak to them! You can find your counselor for flex here, and full time here.
- Do take all Honors when possible. You may say you’re not “the Honor student,” but honors on FLVS is super easy. It usually is just a couple more assignments per semester and a little harder exam. TAKE HONORS YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. As for AP, that is a you choice as AP courses are pretty hard.
- Don’t cheat. I am not some academic shill, I think that a lot of the stuff you learn in school is useless. Why do I care about chemistry class when I won’t be doing chemistry ever again. Wouldn’t it be better to take the easier route? Yeah, sometimes it is actually. I won’t lie to you, cheating makes your life so much easier, but the short-term benefits of cheating, especially in your core classes such as English and Math, really really messes you up long term. Things like Math for instance builds on itself heavily, and if you set yourself up to fail with cheating early on, you will screw yourself over when classes get harder. No hurt in using things for examples though.
- Don’t procrastinate, even if you can. I am a procrastinator to my core I have always been one. This is a bad thing and because it is online, it super easy to be lazy. You must have a lot of self-discipline to succeed at FLVS, including doing your work on time. I for one have always been bad at that and just cram a lot, don’t be me.
- Don’t do all the quizzes first and then work the written assignments last. I am guilty of doing this and only ever regret it.
- Don’t share your assignments to friends. This goes with don’t cheat, but even more directly, as you can get in trouble to for sharing as it links back to you.
As someone who has done FLVS for 3 years, I have gotten a very good feel for how this all works, and have some insider information that I think everyone should know.
1. Check for Turn It In score before submitting
When submitting an assignment, don’t check the “Submit for Grading” box. Wait a little bit, and you will see your score. Make changes when needed. Turnitin can be a bit of a bugger, even if you didn’t cheat. By doing this, you will ensure academic integrity with ease.
2. Use your Office 365 benefits
As an FLVS student, you gain access to Office 365 for free. I don’t have a Windows computer so I am unable to use it now, but I used to. Office 365 is great, and I would take advantage of this. A great alternative is Google Docs, and for my more tech savvy users, I would recommend a markdown editor for written assignments
3. Ask for Help On the Unofficial FLVS Subreddit and Discord
Have a problem? Feel free to ask the fine folk on the subreddit and discord, they are quite nice and knowledgeable. On the Discord in particular you can find Notes, DBA Logs, and Course reviews. These have been very useful for me and other students.
4. Use Khan Academy and Other Learning Services
A good student learns from a class, a great student learns from a class and on their own. You don’t have to be a nerd to use Khan Academy and similar services, these sites are amazing and are great for all students. You are doing yourself a disservice for not using them.
5. Dual Enroll
FLVS Makes it easy to Dual Enroll, and FLVS even has their own Dual Enrollment program, including an opportunity to dual enroll at UF! If that isn’t amazing, I don’t know what is.
6. Attend Clubs
FLVS Clubs are fun and look good for college admissions. They require minimal effort, you get to meet nice people, and you get to pursue a hobby with like-minded people. FLVS has a large selection of clubs, larger than that of your typical High School, and these clubs are often overlooked by Students. Don’t be like them.
7. Do You Program? Sign Up For The GitHub Student Developer Pack.
This can be found here. Sign up for Github, eg. with a gmail or your own email server if you’re cool. After, go to the pack page and then select “Get your pack.” From there, sign up with your school’s email. They may ask for your transcript, my unofficial one worked for me.
8. GPA Calculation
GPA is calculated very easily for Full Time student, just divide your quality points by the number of classes you have had. For Flex students it isn’t so simple. You will need to go to your transcript, and then add up each class. A-, A, and A+ are all weighted the same, 4.0, same with Bs, just 3.0. Honors classes add 0.5 more so instead of 4.0 you now have a 4.5 for that class. AP/College/IB is 5.0 for an A. Once you have added each class GPA up for each semester, you divide by the number of credits you have times 2. This will give you the GPA. You can see more of this here.
FLVS is amazing, but not without flaw. Like any education system, there is room for complaint. In my opinion, though, FLVS is one of, if not the best, Online Schooling choice in the United States. From its diverse courses, great clubs, and dual enrollment opportunities, you’re sure to succeed as an FLVS Student if you give it your all. If you have any questions for an FLVS Student, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].