PALCS seniors are looking toward the future. In a few short months, students will be graduating and pursuing a variety of activities, which most frequently include college plans. PALCS graduates receive a Tier 1 public school diploma, recognized as equal to a traditional brick-and-mortar school by the PA Department of Education and all post-secondary schools. Graduates can apply to any school of interest and are evaluated on the same basis as students in other high schools, using standard college acceptance criteria such as academic performance, the difficulty level and number of courses a student has taken, community involvement, and other success factors. Last year’s PALCS students earned the highest average SAT and ACT scores of all charter school students in Pennsylvania.

Every student has a unique path. Since the school began operation in 2004, PALCS graduates have attended well over 100 schools ranging from small private colleges such as Grove City, Washington and Jefferson, Allegheny, Juniata, Messiah, and Geneva; major state universities like Penn State, Pitt, Carnegie Mellon, Temple and Drexel; and Ivy League schools like Princeton, Harvard and Yale. A partial list of colleges and universities of interest to last year’s graduating class is available in our school profile.

A member of the Class of 2021 wanted to anonymously share her college application essay. In it, she shares some of her personal struggles and how PALCS helped renew her drive and interest in education. Read in her own words:

The Comeback is Greater Than the Setback

Thanksgiving of 2019 was a turning point in my life.  And it’s not because it was the second day in a row that I spent in the hospital.  It was the day that my parents and I decided I was no longer going to attend my traditional high school, but rather enroll in an online school, Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School (PALCS).  It was a decision that has changed my life for the better.

Ending up in the hospital during the Thanksgiving break was the cumulative effect of my struggle with stress, anxiety and depression due primarily to my high school experiences and environment.  I was bullied and harassed which made it impossible to focus on my education and studies when all I could think about was making it to my next class without being bothered.  I was scared and thought everyone was against me.  I always felt like I was being followed or judged; it seemed as if everyone’s eyes were on me and they were talking about me.  These situations, along with my focus issues and being easily distracted, resulted in my grades slipping.  I lost interest in my education and didn’t even want to go to school anymore.  The move to PALCS couldn’t have come soon enough.

I got to PALCS and it was a life changing experience.  The support of the teachers and counselors provided the education I deserved.  I felt like I was a different person here; I could start over and actually make something of myself.  Without the unnecessary distractions and negative influences, I could actually concentrate and focus on my studies.  I was learning and finally getting an education.  For the first time in my high school career, I was proud of the work I submitted and I became more confident.  I started to believe I was intelligent.  My grades began to reflect the way I was feeling about myself and my abilities.  I went from C’s, D’s and F’s at hometown high school to earning A’s and B’s at PALCS.  I’ve made the Honor Roll every marking period I’ve been at PALCS; highlighted by straight A’s the past two marking periods and Distinguished Honor Roll.

Becoming more confident in school and my abilities has me contemplating my future.  My experience at PALCS has me thinking about what I would like to study in college and possibly pursue as a career.  I would like to make an impact on someone’s life like PALCS has made on mine.  I’m thinking of majoring in education and becoming a history teacher.  Lately, I have wanted to give back and make a difference in other people’s lives.  I have taken a job in a senior living facility providing essential services during these uncertain times.  Although I’m putting myself at risk, I wanted to serve this community which has been so devastated by the pandemic.  Not only have they experienced significant loss of life but they also have been isolated and shut off from the outside world for significant periods of time.  It has been incredibly rewarding for me experiencing the gratitude and appreciation from these people.

As you review my application, it is my sincere hope that you consider my story.  It’s the story of a student who was lost and without hope but who was given a second chance and is taking advantage of that opportunity.  I’m not asking you to ignore my first two years of high school nor am I making any excuses.  I take full responsibility and own my performance and actions during this period.  I am asking you to look at how I’ve turned it around.  I’ve shown that I have the ability and potential to perform at a high level; I’m just asking for the opportunity to continue to prove it.  Won’t you help me write the next chapter of my story?

The faculty and staff of the PA Leadership Charter School are thrilled to have helped make a positive difference in the life of this student, as well as the thousands of other students, with both similar and different stories, who have passed through our digital doors over the last decade and a half. We wish our upcoming graduating class the best of luck! To find out what PALCS can make possible for your family, explore our school or learn more about enrollment.