Sora vs. National University: Searching for the Top School

To cap off our comparison series about top online high schools, we’re comparing Sora against National University Virtual High School. 

This series has been all about helping you know what key characteristics to look for to find the top school for your child’s needs. If you’ve missed out on this series, you can access it here on our blog, where we answer a wide range of key questions like, 

Can online schools outperform traditional schools?

Is online school good for mental health?

How do I maximize my productivity when learning from home?

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of National University, Sora, and what kind of virtual high school features may best suit your child’s needs.

Academic Selection

Online school gives students richer academic opportunities when their local options are limited. When considering an online school, look into their course catalog. They usually list an Academics section on their webpage where you can view exactly what courses that school offers. Viewing courses doesn’t just give you an initial feel for the school’s potential quality. This also provides you a clearer picture of which schools offer courses specific to your child’s particular interests. 

In short, prioritize schools that enable your child to pursue their passions and gain experience in their prospective field for credit. 

National University offers a collection of courses that you won’t find at your run-of-the-mill in-person high school. In addition to high school staples like AP Calculus and AP U.S. History, National University provides less common courses like Arabic, Cybersecurity, and International Business. 

Sora takes customizable academics one step further with Career Tracks. The Career Track program does more than enable students to explore their interests. When students choose a track, Sora provides them with mentors who possess industry experience in their field. Right now, Sora offers an Engineering Track in which students explore focuses like biomedical and computer engineering through hands-on projects. 

Affordability

Both National University and Sora present affordable options for students to pursue their high school diplomas. 

National University doesn’t present a straightforward yearly or monthly tuition rate for full-time students. But they do list their course-per-semester prices. Their college-prep courses cost $310 per semester, and their AP courses cost $395 per semester. They also list a $60 materials fee per course. For full-time students, this may total to roughly $4,440 to $5,460 per year. 

Sora offers a sliding scale for tuition based on household income. This scale ranges from $4,800 to $9,600 per year. Since Sora believes in providing top-quality education at an affordable price, about 65% of currently enrolled students have been awarded a discounted tuition rate on the Flexible Tuition program.

Communication and Community

Teachers’ accessibility to and communication with students will always be key to schools’ success. This factor is even more critical without the natural interactions of in-person learning. Online settings require careful intentionality on administrators’ and faculty members’ part to create structures that breed meaningful, supportive connections for students. 

In a self-conducted study, one professor reported that improving her email tone with students accounted for a 17% increase in their success rate. While this study is slightly anecdotal, its results are consistent with broader findings that connect students’ success with positive student-teacher relationships. 

Students and parents pose mixed reviews on this point for National University. Some students experience positive communications:

[My teacher] helped me throughout the course by answering my questions via email, and she guided me in the right direction helping me gain a better understanding. 

Others report a polar opposite experience:

No one answers the phone, so if you have a question, you need to leave a message and hope someone calls you back when you are available. If you are not available, you have to call back and leave another message. Very frustrating.

Sora streamlines communication between students and faculty with Discord. Students are able to message faculty at their convenience and can expect a timely response. One parent described his son’s experience as like being part of a family:

[My son] feels like a valued member of the Sora family-he really fits in with the other students and the Learning Experts.

A current freshman at Sora recently shared similar sentiments:

Another thing I greatly appreciated when coming to Sora was the sense of community and welcomeness I received from the students and staff. Immediately on the first day, everyone welcomed me with open arms, and I became part of the Sora family.

What are Your Child’s Needs?

Both Sora and National University offer affordable education opportunities that local, in-person options don’t. If your child is simply interested in exploring diverse topics, he or she may enjoy National University’s course variety. 

If your child is interested in pursuing actual experience in their field of interest, Sora’s career-centered, project-based learning is a major plus. Sora’s Learning Experts and industry mentors will guide your child through developing a career-oriented portfolio.

While some students at National University report positive communication experiences with teachers, others report that teachers’ responsiveness was unsatisfactory. This suggests that National University may be better suited for more independent students who aren’t looking for particularly responsive teachers.

On the other hand, Sora is perfect for students who value relationships and collaboration during their learning experience. Faculty members aren’t just readily available for questions on Discord. They partner with students and contribute to a supportive community that can feel like family. 

If you’d like to learn more about Sora, click here to speak with our admissions team.

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