Choosing an Online High School


Choosing the right online high school has become increasingly challenging for both parents and students.


Online High School Student

Online High School Student

Online high schools are growing exponentially in recent years. With the expansion of internet technology, and increasing number of grade school age students looking for alternatives to public schooling, online high schools will only continue to grow. This is illustrated in the growth of homeschooling in the United States. The growth is also reflected in the recent expansion of such online education powerhouses like Apollo Group (which owns University of Phoenix), and Kaplan into online high schools.

Just like with online colleges and universities, while there are many top quality online high schools, there are also many diploma mills lurking on the internet. (Learn more about quality of online education here).  Choose the wrong one and you could end up with a worthless piece of paper. Choose right and you have a document that will be accepted by colleges around the world.

You therefore, need to do your homework when choosing an online high school. These are some key items to check:

1. Check accreditation. While a number of online high schools will claim accreditation, it is not the type that will be accepted by colleges and employers. An online high school should be accredited by Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation (CITA), American Academy of Liberal Education (AALE), or one of the six regional accreditation agencies (that can be found at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website). Note: accreditation is not the same as a license to open a school.

2. History and Tradition. How long has the school been in existence? While new schools are established all the time, having a longer tradition of offering courses, typically makes for better schools. Some of these schools have been open for decades as pre-Internet correspondence schools. This can be an advantage in producing quality programs and curriculum. Check also the school’s graduation records. You obviously do not want an online version of a drop-out factory.

3. Cost. Some of these online high schools are free public charter schools while others are quite expensive private high schools. The most expensive that I have come across is attached to a university in the south. Is there an advantage to paying more? Not really, but there may be an advantage with your program being attached to a university. However, being attached to a university most definitely does not mean that it must cost more.

4. Independent study or teacher-led. There are two basic types of programs. The first gives you the materials and you work through them on your own. The second provides you with a teacher, either one-to-one or similar to a classroom, and instruction is given. Neither is necessarily better than the other, but you should decide what sort of learning experience you need or want. There is a third option, more of a hybrid solution, and that is programs that provide you with the amount and level of support that you personally need.

5.Training and qualification of teachers: Do not take this for granted. Poorly-trained or non-credentialed teachers cannot give you or your child quality education.

6.Support Services: In addition to instruction delivery, what other support services do the school offer … college counseling, SAT Prep, admission essays assistance, extra curricular virtual programs, etc.

This article is only the beginning. If you are interested on Online High School for yourself or your child, take a look at this very valuable book: Complete Guide to Online High Schools: Distance Learning Options for Teens & Adults