By Paula Nechak
If you thought online degrees were only for college, postgraduate or PhD students, think again.
The general perception about online—or distance—learning programs is that they're only for undergraduate or grad students, or for adults who are already established in a career but are looking for new job skills to get a promotion or launch themselves on a new career path. So you may be surprised to learn there are a growing number of teens who are choosing to get their high school diplomas online.
Why—and Why Not—Get Your High School Diploma Online
There are many reasons a high school student might make the decision to turn to an online high school education, but here are some of the most common:
- Health problems or concerns
- Need to schedule around a career (like a professional arts career)
- Must contribute to the family welfare
- Can work at your own pace
- Trouble focusing in a classic classroom setting
- Relocate frequently
- Older non-graduate desiring to earn a high school diploma or GED
Just as there are many reasons to pursue your online high school education, there are also reasons why some students shouldn't consider an online education:
- Not self-motivated
- Need constant guidance or supervision
- Low reading comprehension or learning disabilities
- Need the social aspect of a traditional classroom setting
Types of Online High Schools
There are two options for high school students who want to pursue an online high school education: private online high schools and online charter schools.
- A private school is, as the name suggests, a privately funded, internally regulated institution. Private online high schools charge tuition and can be accredited.
- Charter schools are the online equivalent of what is a traditional public school, and do not generally charge tuition. Chances are, if you choose a charter school online, it's more likely to be accredited than a private school. This is because charter schools are regulated by government restrictions and receive government money in order to operate.
Accreditation Is Important
Accreditation is as important in an online high school as it is in a college or university. Prospective online students should check to make sure the school they have selected has attained accreditation from one of the six regional accreditation agencies. Ensuring that your online high school is accredited will make it easier for you to get into a college of your choice; in fact, you'll have as good a chance as any student who attended high school in a traditional classroom. Here are the six regional agency websites:
- The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- The New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- The Northwest Association of Accredited Schools
- The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- The Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Once you've made your selection and checked your school's accreditation standing, you'll need to enroll online and make sure your computer meets the technical requirements needed for you to do the coursework that's part of your online diploma program curriculum. Once you enroll, you're ready to start earning your degree. When you get your high school education online, you can begin your high school diploma program immediately.