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Humanities FAQs

Is my child eligible to enroll in CTY Online Programs writing, grammar, critical reading, and visual fluency courses?

Students who earn qualifying scores on one of the required advanced academic ability tests are eligible for CTY courses. 

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Where do we start?

Please review carefully the prerequisites that are listed with the course descriptions. Students with qualifying scores should review the course descriptions for students in their grade level, paying special attention to the sample assignments and detailed course information, before deciding which course is the best fit. Students new to CTY Online Programs should choose courses that list no prerequisites other than a qualifying SCAT, PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10/NMSQT, SAT, or ACT score.

Several writing courses require completion of other CTY Online Programs or CTY Summer Program courses as additional prerequisites and are intended for students returning to the program.

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Which formats are offered?

Critical reading, grammar, and visual literacy courses are web-based, and all instruction takes place in a web classroom. Students can post and read messages in the web-based classroom at any convenient time as long as they finish work by the deadline. 

Several writing courses offer a choice between independent or peer review formats. Review course list and descriptions.

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Which writing format is best for my child?

Independent writing courses: The independent experience uses a web-based course management system that delivers assignments, receives finished essays, and returns instructor critiques. Students and instructors use the course management system's messaging module and email to communicate. The independent experience does not include peer review workshops. It is not necessary for students and instructors to be online at the same time, as most communication is done via writing. This format is best for independent, well organized students whose other commitments limit their available time.

Peer review writing courses: This format provides a process-oriented approach. Students work through lessons and receive instructor feedback on prewriting exercises during the process of writing the essay as well as a detailed critique of the final writing assignment. In addition, students participate in a mandatory online peer review workshop in which they critique each other's writing. In the web-based format, although interaction is frequent, it is not real time. Interaction is conducted asynchronously, not via chat, I.M, or whiteboard. Students can work at any time, so long as they meet the deadlines. Students deliver work by uploading it to a private space. They download instructor responses from the same place. Virtual classrooms are provided by a course management system.

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Is there a difference in cost between the various formats?

Tuition varies by course. However, there is no difference in cost for the same course offered in different formats.

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How does the Online Programs Writing Series work?

Students submit work according to schedule. Instructors comment thoroughly on the work, mixing praise with constructive criticism. Students apply these extensive comments to the next step in that project. Both exchange emails about each other’s comments, creating a conversation between instructor and student not only about the work but also about the process of doing the work. Peer review writing courses include peer review workshops of student work and/or peer discussions of readings, fostering a richly interactive community.

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How do the critical reading and grammar courses work?

The Art Meets Science and the Young Readers' Series involve substantial reading and written discussions of texts. Students typically read, discuss, and write at least every other day (academic year & early summer) or daily (intensive summer). The Young Readers’ courses include creative writing assignments; the Art Meets Science courses include a writing workshop in which the instructor and peers offer constructive criticism.

In Building Blocks and From Structure to Style, students work with the instructors in an online collaborative community to learn about grammar usage and the application of this knowledge to their own writing. Grammar FUNdamentals covers a broad range of topics to meet current middle-school grammar standards and reinforces lessons with online grammar games, puzzles, tests, and creative writing assignments.

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What are the hours for courses?

Students need not be online at a specific time. They can post and read messages in the web-based classrooms at any convenient time as long as they finish work by the deadline.

The critical reading, grammar, and visual fluency courses require about three hours a week of work.

The time needed to devote to writing courses varies according to the format:

  • Independent writing students should expect to commit two hours weekly (fall session), three and a half hours weekly (early summer session), or one hour and a half daily (late summer session).
  • Peer review writing students should expect to commit three hours weekly (fall session), five hours weekly (early summer), or two hours daily (late summer session).

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Can a student take a CTY Online Programs summer session course at the same time as a vacation or a CTY Summer Programs course?

No. The time commitment for a CTY online course is not feasible when a student is also on vacation, at camp, or in a CTY Summer Program. Students enrolled in CTY Summer Programs must schedule their Online Programs summer session courses for a different time period.

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What if we have a summer vacation planned?

Some summer session (12 weeks long) courses allow for two weeks total vacation, scheduled at the student's convenience. Students should notify the instructor at the course's start about their vacation schedules. When not on vacation, students must meet their course’s due dates. If in doubt, please contact us by email us before applying.

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Is it possible to take two CTY Online Programs courses at the same time?

Yes. Students may take two courses at the same time, but they should keep in mind that each course requires a substantial time commitment; thus, students who already carry a busy schedule of homework and extra-curricular activities may find it difficult or unwise to add two CTY Online Programs courses to the mix.

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How is course work evaluated?

Writing courses

Instructors write a lengthy commentary on every assignment. Instead of "A+ Great Work!" instructors' comments may be up to a page long! View samples of Crafting the Essay student work and instructor critiques:

Critical Reading, Grammar, and Visual Literacy courses

Reflecting a dual emphasis on discussion and on writing, instructor comments assess your efforts in both these areas. Participation in discussions is mandatory, and feedback about your participation and your writing is provided on an ongoing basis. Grammar FUNdamentals also includes open-note tests.

Course completion documents for all courses

Within two to three weeks after the course’s end, you’ll receive a detailed, descriptive, page-long evaluation of your performance. This course completion document focuses on academic performance, progress, and effort. The feedback is addressed to the student and is written in a formal tone.

Topics discussed in the course completion document are specific and content-centered. Educators are able to recognize the high level of work and to measure student achievement by their own standards. Letter grades are not generally given, but we will provide them if a parent or guardian indicates that the student plans to take the course for school credit on the program application.

A certificate of completion will be sent to the mailing address in MyCTY for each student who successfully completes a course.

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How do I request a letter grade for the course?

Letter grades are not generally given, but we will provide them if a parent or guardian indicates that the student plans to take the course for school credit on the program application. If the student does not plan to seek school credit and still wants to request a letter grade, contact ctyonline@jhu.edu before the course begins.

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