Refusing to settle for getting by:
How online education helped a student with GPA regain control of her academics
Mackenzie Carley is an avid reader, a passionate horse jumper and a bright student in her final year of high school with [email protected] In the spring of 2016, she was diagnosed with chronic Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA), a condition that caused wild health swings, made her miss classes and assignments for sick days and medical appointments, and left her playing catch-up through most of junior high.
“When I was diagnosed with GPA, it was hard for me to go to school because I was always getting sick and wasn’t always mobile,” she recalls. “Grade nine was when I started doing about half of my education from a distance, because I couldn’t be attending school regularly.”
As she transitioned to schooling from home, she was able to take back control over her academic life, regaining ground where she had fallen behind. Mackenzie recalls the freedom she found in being able to do things at her own pace, especially when her body needed time to rest and recover.
“I really like learning at my own pace so that I can really learn the material, instead of just going one day on it and then moving on,” she says. “Now when I have appointments, I don’t need to miss school. I can just complete the work afterwards and I don’t miss out on anything anymore.”
However, online education didn’t just allow her to get back on top of her academics. Mackenzie used the flexibility of online schooling to develop her talents in horse jumping and riding as well. When she’s not doing school, she takes advantage of the flexible learning hours of her online studies to spend time at the stables with her horse Tank.
“I mainly do jumping and I dabble in a little bit of western,” says MacKenzie, “I’m at the stables most of my time that I’m not working on school or reading.”
Even with her ongoing medical complications, Mackenzie was able to cultivate her talents that would later inform her decision-making process for determining a future career path. She now hopes to go into animal sciences and pursue a veterinarian practice for large animals. She believes her experience online has helped prepare her for university in a way that she couldn’t have experienced with her health condition in a traditional school setting.
“I know it’s going to set me up really well for university because it will help me stay on top of things,” she says. “In university, teachers aren’t always checking in on you, so you need to learn how to set your pace.”
In her distance education experience, she originally started with a more self-directed program, but found she craved the accessibility of an online teacher who could respond to her questions immediately and help guide her through the material. As a [email protected] student, she says if the Online Enrolment option was available during her high school experience, she would have loved to take that opportunity.
“I’ve definitely learned what programs I like and what programs I don’t like for school,” she says. “With online classes, it was nice because you can ask questions as they teach the material, and I think it definitely helps students do better if they have an accessible teacher.”
Mackenzie is now finishing up her final year of high school, and plans to spend her summer completing chemistry and jumping with Tank. She looks forward to pursuing animal sciences in university following graduation.