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Online Schooling and NCAA, WASC, and Dual Enrollment

Updated: May 24

ncaa accredited online high schools

In the 21st century, education is breaking new ground and old conventions are giving way to new paradigms. Home schooling, online education and hybrid formats are much more common than ever. Furthermore, these non-traditional models are producing students who excel academically and socially, as well as athletically. Yet college-bound students who receive their secondary education from one of these alternative designs still face challenges, particularly if they want an athletic scholarship or to compete on behalf of their chosen college. They must successfully navigate the standards of accreditation, the demands of the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) and the implications of dual enrollment.


What Are NCAA Approved Courses?

The list of NCAA approved courses for scholarship recipients and student-athletes differs among the competitive divisions. Moreover, what the NCAA recognizes as "core courses" are limited to studies in English, Mathematics (from first-year Algebra and up), Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Foreign Languages and selected Humanities offerings like Comparative Religion or Philosophy. On the other hand, remedial classes in Math and Reading do not qualify nor does credit gained through an exam (course completion is required). Business Education, Music, Industrial Arts and other similar electives also lack status as NCAA approved courses. Division I athletes are allowed to fall shy of these requirements by one course provided they finish high school in eight consecutive semesters.


Does the NCAA Accept Online Courses?

Over and above class content, does the NCAA recognize alternative formats like online education? Under certain conditions, yes. Virtual courses, independent study, hybrid instruction and the like must adhere to certain guidelines to gain acceptance as NCAA approved courses. These include:


  • Subject matter must be in accord with those approved courses named above.

  • Instructor-student interactions must occur on a regular basis through methods like email, telephone calls and virtual calls whereby the teacher can guide the student through the course.

  • The courses must have a fixed duration and a clear start and end time. 

  • The student's output (e.g. tests, papers etc.) must be available for criticism and assessment.

  • The high school transcript must designate the non-traditional status of the class.


What Is WASC Accreditation?


Accreditation agencies are non-profit groups that focus on the mission of setting basic standards for colleges, universities and secondary schools, as well as other educational institutions. These organizations can represent different types of education, such as religious, vocational or distance learning, or they can cover regions of the United States. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is one such regional body. Its jurisdiction covers the states of California and Hawaii as well as the territory of Guam and other U.S. territories  around the world. WASC aids and evaluates public and private schools and universities in these places - 5,200 institutions in all.


With WASC accreditation, schools are confident that:


  • Their respective missions are fulfilled.

  • Their programs and transcripts boast academic credibility.

  • Their credits are acceptable to colleges and other schools around the world.

  • They maintain a culture of professionalism.

  • They keep progressing to higher levels of competence in academic program and administration.


WASC accredited schools are judged according to criteria common among school accrediting agencies. These include curricular rigor and scope, faculty credentials and experience, and the rates of both graduation and retention.


Is WASC Accreditation Good?


The WASC is among several regional accrediting groups that cover New England, the southern U.S., the middle-Atlantic states and the Pacific Northwest, comprehensively. WASC accredited schools present higher eligibility to receive financial aid, for one thing. Also, it is easier for a student to transfer from one accredited school to another and to retain a good portion of earned credit. Meanwhile, graduate programs like to see applicants from accredited institutions. Thus, the WASC seal of approval matters.


ncaa approved online high school

What Is Dual Enrollment?

In the educational context, dual enrollment refers to when a student is registered with two academic institutions simultaneously. Commonly, this occurs when the pupil is enrolled in a college course (or courses), while finishing up their requirements for a high school diploma. In doing so, dual enrollment participants have the chance to earn academic credit from both high school and college. Yet, there are cases when the student is engaged with two secondary institutions at once, perhaps to strengthen elements of the high school transcript.


How Does Dual Enrollment Work?

Aimed at providing students with advanced academic offerings, dual enrollment courses enjoy a 34 percent participation rate in the United States. Dual enrollment is compared favorably against Advance Placement (AP) test credits because of the wider range of offerings. In the same vein, dual enrollment classes stand a better chance of acceptance as NCAA approved courses. Aside from these benefits, dual enrollment classes cost less for a high school student than they would for a college student. All in all, dual enrollment classes are a great choice that allow students to prepare for college while in high school.


Dual enrollment classes must not conflict with high school requirements for graduation. For instance, a college-level class in German cannot replace a Physical Education class mandated by the state before a pupil can graduate. If schedules are irreconcilable, the gym class prevails. Of course, this assumes that the conflicting classes are both on-site courses that have no flexibility in scheduling. Yet virtual and homeschool scenarios allow for more options since there is more control over the hours spent in education.


These courses can in fact be taught by high school faculty on the secondary school's campus provided the college that offers them approves. This is a very common regime for students to benefit from dual enrollment. So, WASC accredited schools, high school and college, can often cooperate in this manner when the HS teacher is well trained in the subject matter. This applies to a physical, brick-and-mortar high school campus and to an online-based, virtual school. The alternative is to either have transportation to the college campus or, likewise, avail oneself of a virtual course offering. The important factor is that the student receives credit from both institutions.


Dual Enrollment and NCAA Eligibility

A high school student who is concurrently enrolled in a college course or courses is subject to the same NCAA eligibility requirements as students on a more traditional college prep path. To get on the roster of an NCAA team, the student must be a high school graduate. Secondly, the pupil must have finished a specified number of the core courses as designated by the NCAA. In addition, the grade point average among those core studies must reach a certain threshold. Finally, the NCAA sets minimum scores to be attained on college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT.


Still, it is not so simple for dual registrants. The typical college-bound high-schooler must make sure that the secondary institution confirms with the NCAA Eligibility Center that its courses conform to NCAA core guidelines. What about college classes that count toward high school graduation? Do they receive automatic eligibility per the NCAA? Not automatic, but eligibility is granted by the NCAA if the course shows up on the high school transcript as dual enrollment. This information should include the school's name and location, the final grade and the credit awarded. One other thing: the college offering the class must too forward its own student transcript to the Eligibility Center. These requirements apply not only to traditional high schools but also to NCAA accredited online high schools like ICL Academy.


About ICL Academy 

Born of a non-profit group committed to helping youth advance both academically and in terms of character, ICL Academy started as a hybrid institution with a stress on the performing arts. Based in Los Angeles, ICL is among the WASC accredited schools while also enjoying status as a NCAA accredited online high school. Its academic emphases have expanded to embrace other creative disciplines as well as science, technology, humanities, social science and world languages. With other WASC accredited schools, ICL presents order, accountability, substantive communication and clarity of mission. Along with NCAA accredited online high schools, ICL runs a broad range of courses that adhere to NCAA standards in terms of breadth and depth.


ICL has no shortage of aspiring athletes within its student body. As one of the NCAA accredited online high schools, ICL uniquely connects athletes with accomplished individuals in their respective sports. Moreover, ICL helps students to study the more traditional academic subjects within the context of these interests. So, as pupils participate in local sports leagues and conferences, they have the significant backing of their school.


ICL students study individually and in tandem with peers through scheduled online seminars. In this way, they are immersed in a schedule that better resembles a collegiate timetable. Preparatory readings and exercises precede class time when the students' preparation is tested and the lesson at hand is conveyed through interactive dialogue. With these combinations of orderliness and flexibility, accountability and exploration, as well as self-study and collaboration, ICL students receive an optimal balance of educational styles. Its place as one of the NCAA accredited online high schools is a testimony to its commitment to producing well-rounded citizen-scholars.


Learn more about ICL Academy’s accredited online high school today.  










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