Next spring, 17-year-old Carter Harwell will do something almost unheard of when he receives his high school diploma and associate’s degree at the same time.
Harwell has been taking high school courses through the Georgia Cyber Academy, an online K-12 school for students throughout the state. The charter school gives Harwell the ability to be flexible but also requires extreme self-discipline.
“We recommended it to a friend and their grades dropped,” Harwell said. “It’s not meant for everyone.”
Harwell knows a thing or two about self-discipline. The Eagle Scout recipient began playing golf with First Tee at age 8 and now serves as a coach for the organization. Because of his flexible schedule with GCA, he is able to practice golf and attend tournaments throughout the year.
“As long as you have a computer and an internet connection, you can do the school,” he said.
When a brick-and-mortar school did not work for Harwell, he and his parents looked at several online options including homeschooling. Finally, they discovered GCA and Harwell became part of the first group of students to enroll in classes.
Unlike the home-school programs they looked into, GCA offered Skype-like technology for Harwell to engage with teachers and other students when available and was able to take field trips designed around his curriculum. Similar to traditional schools, GCA follows state requirements for graduation including the Georgia Milestones Assessment.
Harwell said he has not taken an official GCA class in nearly two years. Instead, he has been taking dual enrollment classes through Georgia Military College, Gwinnett Technical College and Toccoa Falls College.
In September, he will travel with First Tee to Pebble Beach in California for the PURE Insurance Championship, all while working toward his associates in general studies.
When he enrolls in college, where he hopes to pursue a law degree, Harwell will be a transfer student with his core classes already out of the way.
For more information on Georgia Cyber Academy, visit their website at gca.k12.com.