Online High School
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people who failed to receive a high school or general education diploma inevitably experience difficulty finding employment that pays much more than $25,000 to $30,000 annually. This amount stands in stark contrast to the over $50,000 a year earned by individuals who successfully receive a high school diploma or GED and potentially pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Reasons why people neglect to obtain a diploma or GED are complicated. Some encounter personal problems that make it extremely challenging to finish high school courses while others choose to work a minimum wage job due to financial hardships. Alternatively, many teenagers do not receive the support and motivation needed to complete 12 years of school and simply drop out.
Older adults (50+) who do not have a high school diploma or GED probably lived during a time when it was not absolutely necessary to finish high school. Fifty years ago, employment as a factory worker making decent wages did not usually require proof of a diploma. However, the availability of blue-collar jobs has been rapidly decreasing over the past several decades, replaced by jobs that necessitate knowledge of computer applications and software. In addition, many factory jobs have been outsourced to foreign countries where workers are paid less than half the wage previously paid to American factory workers.
For all these reasons and many more, it is imperative that you obtain a high school diploma or GED in order to remain competitive and desired by companies seeking individuals specializing in areas that require at least two to four years of higher education learning. As a result of the swiftly changing needs of employers, online high schools offering diplomas and/or classes preparing you for the GED exam are readily available and provide individuals with the means to assist them in obtaining better paying jobs.
What is the Difference Between a High School Diploma and GED?
Some confusion clouds the correct definition of a high school diploma and GED, or general education diploma. The concise description of a high school diploma contains the following points:
Students receive high school diplomas when they are awarded the required number of credits (this number varies among states but averages between 20 and 24) after passing courses offered in 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade. It is possible to obtain a high school diploma by the 11th grade if the correct number of credits are reached. Additionally, some states also require students to pass a mandatory state test before a high school diploma is granted. For example, the Ohio graduation test is initially given to all 10th grade students attending Ohio schools. Students must pass the test before officially considered a high school graduate.
Alternatively, a general education diploma (GED) is given to individuals who dropped out or were expelled from high school before obtaining the required amount of credits. Anyone over 16 years old who does not have a diploma is eligible to take the GED exam. You do not need to attend classes to take the exam but many students enroll in GED classes meant to assist potential exam takers in passing the test. State counties provide GED testing sites and tests are only given on certain dates. Contacting your county’s job and family services department can provide all the information needed to prepare for and take the GED exam.
Although both a high school diploma and GED allow those who obtain them to continue furthering their education by attending a community college or university, an unfortunately biased and negative perception surrounds someone who has a GED. Many people think having a GED implies that because the person dropped out of high school or was expelled, he or she may possess an undesirable work ethic or questionable personal history.
Fundamentals of Online High Schools
When a student enrolls in an accredited online high school, he or she will be attending mandatory and elective classes mirroring typical high school classes in addition to completing written assignments and taking exams. Subjects included in online high school programs include:
- English and composition
- Pre-algebra, algebra, geometry and some trigonometry
- World History, geography and American history
- Biology, physics and basic chemistry
- Computer literacy
Electives may include any of the following:
- Languages (Spanish, French, Chinese or Japanese)
- Art/music history and appreciation
- Health and wellness
- Web design/flash programming
Electives are necessary to fulfill state credit requirements and may also involve advanced or college prep classes for students who exhibit exceptional skills in certain disciplines.
Accreditation of Online High Schools
Online high schools are not accredited by the U.S. Department of Education because the USDE is not endowed with the authority to perform this recognition. Instead, states are responsible for accrediting online high schools after a thorough peer review and inspection is implemented concerning curriculum and alumni quality. For example, the John Adams Virtual Online High School operates in Florida and is accredited by the Florida State Department of Education per Florida laws governing online schools granting diplomas or degrees. In addition, John Adams is also accredited by the ACPSA, or the American Council on Private School Accreditation. Click here to find out more from the U.S. Department of Education.
Attending an accredited online high school ensures that:
- Instructors possess qualifications necessary to teach
- The degree earned is legitimate and can be used for entrance into technical schools or higher learning institutions
- Credits will transfer easily to colleges or universities
The online high school is not a “degree” mill that hands over diplomas upon receiving a certain sum of money
Interested in obtaining a High School Diploma?
When you enroll in an online high school you will need to submit the following items to the school via email or postal mail:
- Photo identification
- Proof of residency
- Completed registration form
Transcripts from any previous high school courses that earned the student credits. Having proof of credits already earned can expedite the acquisition of a high school diploma
Once officially accepted, you will communicate with a counselor who can provide information regarding how the program operates and what is expected of you to obtain a high school diploma.
Tuition Fees and Length of Program
Tuition fees for attending online high school with the intention of obtaining a diploma varies from $300 to $500, which also includes books, workbooks and other course materials. Payment plans are generally available for those who cannot afford making one payment. Length of an online high school diploma program can be anywhere from four weeks to six months, depending on how many credits the student still needs to graduate as well as learning style of the student.
Passing the Graduation Test
If obtaining an online high school diploma in a state requiring successful completion of a graduation exam, students will be informed of when and where such tests are held by the online school in which they are enrolled. Some states have made it mandatory for students to pass proficiency or minimum competency exams before an official high school diploma is presented. These states are:
- New Mexico
- New Jersey
Best Online High Schools Offering High School Diplomas
Excellent, accredited online high schools providing flexible scheduling and the ability to work at your own pace in order to obtain a high school diploma include:
Accredited by the DETC (Distance Education and Training Council) and the SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools), Ashworth College offers general high school programs as well as college prep courses for students considering later enrollment at a community college or vocational school.
Citizens’ Online High School
Accredited by the CDETC (Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council), a nationally established council which the U.S. Department of Education recognizes, Citizens’ High School offers a three year program in addition to a 30-day refund guarantee and affordable payment plans.
Penn Foster High School
The Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools accredits the Penn Foster Online High School. Students have the ability to obtain a high school diploma in less than three years and also benefit from retaining access to Penn Foster’s Graduate Career Services program.
Before enrolling in an online high school not previously mentioned, make sure you thoroughly research the school’s reputation, how long it has been in operation and whether it can provide proof of accreditation. With the need for possessing a genuine high school diploma essential in today’s tough and competitive job market, potential students do not want to waste time, money and resources on illegitimate online schools providing fabricated diplomas that are useless to furthering your earning potential.