Every year, tens of thousands of students transition from middle to high school or from one high school to another. Most of these student transitions are moving from one traditional school to another. This study sought to explore the experience of high school students as they transitioned to their new, very non-traditional, full-time virtual school. This study first profiles eight high school students that transitioned to their current full-time virtual high school during the 2016-2017 school year. Next, it summarizes their thoughts on what school-based practices helped them during their transition. Finally, it presents their recommendations for their school to make the transition easier for future students. This qualitative, phenomenological study utilized semi-structured interviews to gather data on their rich lived experience of transitioning into a full-time virtual school. The 8 full-time virtual high school students were selected because they entered a full-time virtual high school for the first time during the 2016-2017 school year and were willing to share their experiences. The interview questions were designed and validated to elicit sincere, authentic recollections of their experiences transitioning from their old school to their new one. One-on-one, personal interviews were conducted and recorded virtually using Adobe Connect and were coded and analyzed using Atlas.ti qualitative analysis software. This study resulted in four conclusions. First, students participated in orientation, but it was inadequate for the needs of student transitioning into a virtual setting due to the lack of social interaction. Second, communication between full-time virtual schools and its students is vital for transitioning virtual students. Thirdly, school personnel are an important factor in a student's transition from a traditional high school setting to a full-time virtual one. Fourth, parent/guardians need to be engaged more while their student transitions to their new school. In summary, this study might help full-time virtual schools design transitional programs that meet the needs of this unique group of students.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational leadership, administration, and policy; Web-based instruction -- Evaluation; Internet in education; Distance education students -- Case studies

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

McCabe, Molly;