Accredited Online High Schools and High School Diploma Programs
Many institutions across the United States offer high school diploma programs online. While some online high schools offer widely-accepted programs, students seeking an online high school diploma need to be wary of the many unaccredited programs.
Earn a High School Diploma Online
How to Find an Accredited High School Program
One challenge with earning a high school diploma online is finding a legitimate, accredited program. Some online high schools are 'diploma mills' which take a fee, but award a diploma that is not recognized by employers or postsecondary educational institutions, because the program required little or no coursework. Legitimate online schools require substantial academic work before granting a credential, according to the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov).
To check a program's academic credentials, students can contact the school directly and ask about its accreditation. Diploma mills may be vague or unable to provide documentation, or prospective students may not be able to contact a person at the school at all. Diploma mills may also falsely claim accreditation, or be accredited through agencies that don't apply demonstrated standards of academic rigor when granting accreditation. Several of the regional and national accreditation agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education accredit high schools, and the Distance Education and Training Council specifically accredits online high schools.
Prospective students can also limit the search for an online high school diploma to only community colleges and universities. Many legitimate high school diploma programs are available online through such institutions.
How Online High School Diploma Programs are Set Up
Online high school diploma programs must be state-approved and must be accredited. Continued approval and accreditation renewal requires schools to follow curriculum guidelines set by the educational board in the jurisdiction in which the school operates.
Application Process and Educational Prerequisites
Most schools require copies of any and all previous high school transcripts, a completed enrollment application and an application fee for an applicant to be considered for admission. Additionally, while most high school diploma programs do not have strict educational prerequisites, most ask that applicants be able to demonstrate educational preparedness at a minimum of the eighth grade level. If accepted, students are usually mailed a copy of graduation requirements, costs and class listings.
Online classes take place over the Internet using educational, chat room, video, voice and forum software in addition to e-mails and phone calls. Some classes, particularly in science and computer disciplines, may require purchasing additional software or learning materials.
Like in traditional classrooms, students typically have regular homework assignments, which are graded by instructors. Sometimes, classes participate in live video chats or conference calls. Tests are also administered online, while papers are usually submitted and graded via e-mail.
Students who pass enough classes to meet minimum requirements are eligible for graduation. Most online high school programs mail graduates a diploma without a formal commencement ceremony.
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