Distinguished Scholars Program

From: $60.00 / month for 3 months

Grades: 9th–12th

Live Class:  Fri 11 AM ET (10-12 times per year)

Dates: Aug 21–May 3

Price: $149

Instructor: Debra Bell


Course Description

Purpose: The main objective of the DSP is to create a cohort of students at AAO who are working toward the Distinguished Scholars Award (DSA). Under the direction of the DSP advisor, (Dr. Bell for this cohort), AAO will assist students in their efforts to earn the DSA and help them develop the academic and leadership skills needed for post-high school success.

This program is open to the following AAO students:

  1. The student is a rising 9th–12th grader.
  2. The student will complete 2 high school credits through AAO during the 23–24 school year.
  3. The student maintains a cumulative 92% average in AAO high school classes to continue in the program. (Averages are confirmed at the end of each semester.)
  4. The student is academically motivated, intellectually curious, and interested in meeting other like minded students at AAO.

Program Description

  • Students will meet over Zoom once or twice a month as a cohort (10–12 times from Aug–April). The regularly scheduled time will be Fridays 11 AM EST. Time may vary depending on guest speaker availability. 
  • Dr. Bell (or a member of the AAO faculty) will facilitate these meetings with input from students. In addition to getting to know one another, we will listen to featured speakers (such as homeschool graduates now working in various careers) and discuss timely topics (such as entrepreneurship, AI, and alternatives to college). Meetings will be recorded for those who cannot attend.
  • Students will continue their interactions throughout the year via monitored discussion threads on Canvas.
  • Students will receive coaching regarding college planning, merit scholarship opportunities, and college applications.


  • Students will have opportunities for leadership positions in the Distinguished Scholars Program.
  • Students’ participation and achievement will be listed on their AAO transcript.
  • Students may list their participation in the program and their award (when achieved) on college applications.
  • AAO will be able to provide more comprehensive letters of recommendation for DSP students.
  • Students who earn a 95% GPA during the 2023–24 school year will receive a 10% discount on their AAO classes during the following school year. This benefit continues as long as the student continues in the program, the 95% GPA is maintained, and the student completes at least 2 high school credits through AAO during the previous school year.
  • Students with a minimum 92% GPA may continue in the program and may list the DSP as an activity on their transcript.

Distinguished Scholars Award (DSA)

  1. Students who earn 9 or more credits through AAO during high school (9th-12th) and achieve a minimum 95% overall average will qualify for a Distinguished Scholars Award.
  2. Award recipients will be determined from the pool of qualified applicants who are also recommended by the AAO faculty as distinguished in areas of leadership, academic integrity, collegiality, and academic motivation. 
  3. This achievement will be noted on their Aim Academy Online transcript.
  4. A Certificate of Achievement, suitable for framing, will be mailed to the student’s home address.
  5. Student must be enrolled in the DSP program while accruing credits. The only exception is students who enroll in the pilot cohort (2023-24) may count high school credits already earned at AAO.


Mini courses do not earn credit toward DSA. Non-graded classes do not count toward credit.
Semester courses equal ½ credit. Full year courses equal 1 credit.
Honors courses equal 1.25 credits. AP courses equal 1.5 credits.

*Program and award requirements remain fixed for students who enroll during the 2023–24 school year.   Pricing may vary.

*Requirements and benefits for future cohorts may vary. 


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Instructor Bio

Debra Bell

Debra Bell is the founder and executive director of Aim Academy Online. A former high school and college English teacher, Debra and her husband Kermit home educated their four kids K–12; all of whom are college graduates with families of their own. She is a best-selling author and internationally-recognized expert on home education and online learning.

Debra holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. She is vice-chair of the Global Home Education Exchange (ghex.world).

Contact: dbell[at]aimacademy.online

All classes taught by Debra Bell