Doing High School Online: How to Choose Your School, Customize Your Education and Get Your High School Diploma on the Internet
With the power of today’s technology, more and more students are choosing to obtain their college degrees through online programs. However, distance learning isn’t limited to college degrees, students can obtain their high school education online as well. There are numerous reasons why an online high school program might be for you, and we hope to help you decide if that’s the case and to assist as you navigate through the world of an online high school education.
Why Choose an Online High School Program?
The first question you may ask yourself is, “why would I want to obtain my high school diploma online?”
An online high school program offers many advantages over a traditional high school education for teenagers, and offers adults who were unable to obtain their high school diploma in a brick-and-mortar school a second chance at obtaining a high school diploma.
Flexibility is one of the greatest advantages an online high school program will afford you as a student. The ability to to take your core classes whenever and wherever you want and being able to customize your education through various electives make obtaining your high school diploma online a very desirable choice for many individuals. Online options may even include electives unavailable at local high schools. Another aspect of obtaining your education online is that many online high school programs are fully accredited, so you will be receiving the same quality education that you would at a physical school, but with more flexibility.
The desire to remove yourself from bullying, drama, or the general stress of high school is perfectly normal. Sometimes, these situations escalate beyond an inconvenience and begin to deeply affect your life on not only an academic level, but also a personal one. Being able to remove yourself from these toxic environments is a massive advantage to online high school courses. This can increase your dedication to your education, which also propels your motivation and performance. Online high school alternatives may be exactly what you’re missing as a student to thrive.
If you feel bullying or the actions of other students are affecting you in negative ways, or are in any way causing you distress in your academic environment, do not hesitate to reach out to a trusted counselor, or your parents.
There’s also the possibility that the coursework and learning materials online will be of a higher quality, allowing for a more dynamic learning environment. Online courses aren’t as restricted by state education funds in the ways that traditional schools are. What this means is the quality of your online education could potentially be better than the one you would receive at a traditional local high school, depending on where you live and your state’s education funds.
Why Not a GED?
Many students and parents may assume an online high school diploma is comparable to obtaining a GED, but don’t be deceived. There are many advantages an online high school diploma provides, which makes it preferable to a GED. The main distinction you need to make is a high school diploma–whether obtained online or on a traditional campus–is still more highly regarded by postsecondary institutions and employers. With an online high school diploma, you won’t be limited to just technical schools and public colleges, private universities will also be available to you after program completion.
Those who obtain their GED usually have to attend a public or technical school for their core courses and then have to transfer over to a private university if they wish to attend one. Online high school diploma earners don’t have this hurdle to pass.
Another largely contributing factor is that all GED programs are an out of pocket expense, whereas with an online high school you will have access to free options, as well as financial assistance where applicable.
Online High School Program Types
There are four different types of online high school programs available to students that we need to cover to assist you in making a decision on which program you should attend.
Public Online Programs: These online programs are run by local school districts or states. These programs are bound by state-wide curriculum requirements and are usually the closest experience to a traditional high school education you can receive online.
Charter School Programs: These online programs are government-funded but run by private parties. A charter school receives government funding, allowing them to provide an online high school program at a discount, or allowing students to seek government financial aid to cover the costs of attending.
Private Online Programs: These online programs are run by private parties but receive no government funding and are not bound to the same state-wide curriculum requirements. Students wishing to attend a private online program will usually have to pay the cost out-of-pocket or seek student loans.
College-Sponsored Programs: These online programs are overseen by university administrators. Students seeking to attend these programs are usually able to obtain government financial assistance to help cover tuition costs.
So, Which High School is Right For You?
Choosing the high school you wish to attend can be a huge task, but we hope to ease the burden by helping you ask yourself some very important questions.
● “What do I want to achieve with my high school diploma?”
If you want to attend high school in an effort to obtain a better job, or to attend a college, then you will want to ensure the program you enroll in is fully accredited by a U.S. Board of Education-recognized accreditor. We will cover accreditation in more detail later in this guide.
● “Will I want to pay the cost of attending–between a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars in most cases–or will I want to seek government-funded financial aid?”
Only certain program types will allow students to seek government-funded financial aid such as scholarships and grants. For those that do not, most students will either have to pay out of pocket or seek to obtain a student loan on their own. The programs that will allow a student to obtain a scholarship or grant are public programs, charter programs and college-sponsored programs.
● “What academic level will I want to pursue?”
With online high school programs, there are many academic levels available to students. These range from remedial coursework and job preparation to regular high school-level coursework all the way up to gifted or honors coursework. Most programs will offer these options to students, however you might still need to research the program you’re thinking of attending to make sure they do. Under certain circumstances, even AP classes are available through these online channels.
● “Am I a high school student or an adult seeking to obtain a high school diploma?”
Many programs offered are either geared towards one or the other, with a few offering courses for both. You will want to attend the appropriate course depending on which you are, so you can get the most out of the program.
● “Do I want a fast-tracked education or a more traditional one?”
Some programs offer a fast-track course allowing students to obtain their high school diploma online in a shorter amount of time due to an increased workload. Students wishing to obtain their diploma sooner, fast-tracking their career or postsecondary education, will want to look into different programs to find one that offers a fast-track option.
● “Do I need to take the full course, or do I just need to make up some credits?”
Some online high school programs will allow students to just make up extra credits that they are missing, meaning these students can attend a traditional physical school while also taking some classes online. These programs can be utilized to not only catch up, but also to get ahead.
After answering these questions, you should be able to narrow down which program you wish to enroll in.
Accreditation and Why it is Important
An integral aspect of choosing an online high school diploma program is making sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accreditor. These recognized accreditors can be either regionally or nationally approved to provide accreditation to a school or program.
The reasons for choosing a program that is accredited by a USDE approved accreditor are many. These accreditors are recognized by the USDE because the standards that they require schools and programs to meet and uphold ensure students obtain a high-quality education. Many postsecondary institutions and employers require the high school diploma that you receive to have been granted from a program that is accredited by a recognized accreditor. Attending a program that is not accredited or is accredited by a non-USDE recognized accreditor means you will likely be receiving a subpar education and an education that will hinder your ability to attend a postsecondary institution due to lack of recognition.
For students under the age of 16, accreditation is even more important as these students are required by law to be attending school. The U.S. government doesn’t consider unaccredited or schools accredited by an unrecognized accreditor to fulfill this requirement, which can result in legal trouble for both parent and student.
For a list of DOE recognized accreditors, please view their website here and check the online high school program that you’re thinking of attending to make sure they are accredited by one of the listed accreditors.
Customizing Your Education
With an online high school program, you will generally have more electives available to you than you would otherwise have in a traditional high school as traditional schools are limited in not only funds and resources, but also in having qualified teachers available to teach specific electives. Having a wider range of electives available to you will allow you to customize your education in a way previously impossible. From foreign language classes to career jump-starting courses such as Forensics or Law, these electives will give you a stronger foundation, allowing you to have a solid understanding of disciplines before you even start your postsecondary education.
Allowing a more diverse selection of electives will also assist you in choosing a career path. By taking an elective that interests you, you can find out if it’s something you would like to pursue without making the commitment of solely studying for that degree in college without knowing whether or not it’s something you truly enjoy.
We hope we have shown you the flexibility and advantages that an online high school program can afford you as a student. Whether you’re a teenager seeking to catch up on work, get ahead, or do your coursework on your own time or you’re an adult looking to get a second chance at obtaining a high school diploma for career advancement or to attend a postsecondary institute, an online high school program is something that you can utilize easily to your advantage.
USDE Accreditation Overview