Online High Schools

Online High Schools

The birth of e-learning has expanded the secondary school distance learning population at a pace unheard of just two decades ago when home correspondence courses were the norm. Attending online high school allows students to complete or continue their high school education through the internet, when they might have dropped out of school in the past. An e-learning study program includes a wide variety of e-learning options, from listening to live teacher lectures or viewing downloaded video classes, to self-paced book tutorials.

Students seeking online high school education come from many areas. Homebound, disabled or injured students can continue their learning despite health issues which in the past caused them to miss critical classes needed to complete their graduation requirements for their class. Rural community students who attend smaller high schools can enhance their individual learning programs with more Advanced Placement courses, allowing them to earn more college credits then possible at their local high schools. Students wishing to take extra courses in a particular area in their day high school, such as culinary arts, science or music are also part of the new on-line student body. They accommodate the extra classes this by taking one or two regular classes on-line, thus enabling them to broaden their curriculum to more closely meet their personal interests. Finally, adult learners can go back and achieve their high school degrees.

Online High School or G.E.D?

Why you want a high school diploma may determine if online high school or taking the G.E.D. (General Equivalency Test) is right for your education path. If you want to have the diploma to apply for jobs that demand a high school education, or simply to start college, you may want to consider taking the G.E. D. test. Most employers accept the G.E.D. as evidence of acceptable education achievement and most local community colleges allow students to start classes no matter what their education backgrounds; therefore a G.E.D. may fit your requirements. However, if you are looking to expand your horizons, finish one or two classes, keep on track with your class, or learn material difficult for you, then an online high school diploma may be the better choice for your situation.

The US Census Bureau 2004 survey shows that high school graduates earn on average $28,645 versus $19,169 for non-degree holders, another great reason to go back and get your degree online!

Pros and Cons of Online High Schools


  • Self-paced e-learning allows students to adapt the speed of learning to their individual strengths and weaknesses, thereby breezing through easy classes or repeating lessons in more difficult concepts
  • Flexibility in scheduling allows students to accommodate jobs, family needs, child care issues or diverse careers in the arts, sports or acting communities
  • Individual Learning environments can be created at home distraction free, inclusive of special needs or in hard-to reach rural areas or time zones
  • Unique Self-development occurs free of socialization worries, peer pressure, bullying, crime or drug and alcohol influences prevalent in some traditional high schools
  • Tailored curriculum is developed for each student's goals, strengths and needs when they select their own coursework
  • Accelerated programs for early graduation plans may be developed for students to meet diploma requirements ahead of their class, or even in half the time of traditional high schools
  • Cons:

  • Traditional social events, pep rallies, homecoming games, class picnics and proms may be missing from most online schools
  • Coursework in some areas (math or writing for instance) may be difficult without teacher guidance
  • Learning disabled students may miss extra services and accommodations in testing or homework areas
  • Students isolation or anti-social tendencies may increase
  • Students outside traditional charter schools bear the education cost, including computer hardware and software, tuition, curriculum and fees
  • Self-guided education without in-person encouragement, may be difficult for some to complete outside of traditional teacher homework and exam schedules

Selecting Online High Schools by Type

Private Online High Schools

Private online high schools academic standards are not controlled by the government, thus the level of quality may differ from school to school. Private online schooling is the most expensive option, but may offer one-on-one tutoring, counseling and teacher access not available in public institutions. As with all online programs, verify the school is regionally accredited, check the standards of quality and success of its graduates, as well as the ease of communication and hours of availability. Check on any hidden fees and charges, such as curriculum or graduation costs. Verify the admission standards and refund policies before applying.

Public Online High Schools

More and more states are creating online public high schools which are free to minor students in the state, and may also provide computers, internet connections and curriculums free of charge. While most online high schools meet national and regional accreditation standards, some only augment traditional degrees and do not offer a diploma. Students transferring credits from another public school in the state should check to verify that credits will transfer between school curriculums.

Online Charter Schools

Online Charter schools are government funded, independently run and are subject to less oversight than traditional public online high schools. Student bodies at charter schools often pertain to a certain demographic, such as honors students or high school dropouts, and often focus on a unique program, such as health sciences or the arts. Charter schools are technically public high schools, therefore students are not charged and admission policies tend to be more lenient than private schools. Students in many states must come from the district the charter school resides in. When apply to a charter school, check its regional accreditation, its boundaries and its record of success with students, as some charter schools fail and are closed by the state or school district.

University-Affiliated Online High Schools

University-affiliated online high schools are expanding with the growing popularity in online education overall. Because of the stellar reputations of the online colleges, university programs offer a good value in a high quality education format. Students can generally take additional college level course which may transfer for college level credit. When looking to attend a university-affiliated online high school, verify the regional accreditation, teacher qualifications, college preparatory classes and the ability to obtain college credit.