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The 30 Most Technologically Savvy Online Schools Part-1

30. The George Washington University – Washington, D.C.

30. The George Washington University – Washington, D.C.

The online facilities at The George Washington University in the U.S. capital are so effective that associate dean Toni Marsh believes the school’s “on-campus program has gotten better as well.” Moreover, technology has played a big part in this. As the official website explains, “Technology continuously presents opportunities to challenge our students while expanding their access to information.” Students may undertake synchronous or asynchronous degree and certificate programs and can expect to use software such as iTunes U to access podcasts, and Second Life to enter a virtual classroom environment. Blackboard and Embanet are learning management systems favored by the school, while Skype, video conferencing and real-time chat rooms are also available to help online learners reach their potential.

29. University of Texas at Brownsville – Brownsville, Texas

29. University of Texas at Brownsville – Brownsville, Texas

Management systems, web conferencing and virtual drives come together at the University of Texas at Brownsville to create a progressive learning environment that’s ideal for online students. The school runs 17 fully online courses covering a selection of master’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees and graduate certificates. Blackboard is employed for the organization and synchronous and asynchronous delivery of the school’s programs, while the digital settings of Second Life, or Blackboard’s own Collaborate software, can be used by students and faculty members to interact with one another and cooperate on assignments. The university’s impressive Tegrity Campus will also record lectures for live streaming, and these are then all made available for downloading.

28. University of Bridgeport – Bridgeport, Connecticut

28. University of Bridgeport – Bridgeport, Connecticut

The University of Bridgeport in Connecticut’s website helps offer online learners their pick of several programs including undergraduate, graduate and post graduate options. The myUB portal allows all of their students to register for their courses and will hook students into learning management system Canvas as well as ample other services – including email, provision of the latest school information, and library resources. Teaching tends to be asynchronous, making use of discussion threads and internet-based tests within Canvas and the university integrates video into their online courses as well as other multimedia materials. The faculty can also engage students via live messaging or conferencing with technology such as Blackboard Collaborate. Unrestricted technical assistance and a free eTutor are among the additional benefits for online students at the school.

27. Johns Hopkins University – Baltimore, Maryland

27. Johns Hopkins University – Baltimore, Maryland

Two popular technologies are used across all online classes at Baltimore, Maryland’s Johns Hopkins University: Blackboard for course management and Adobe Connect for web conferencing. What’s more, this is enhanced by multiple web-based applications, including VoiceThread, Mediasite and JShare – the latter being the school’s cloud sharing tool, which offers every user five gigabytes of free online storage. Faculty members can take advantage of Facebook and live streaming technology software like Panopto. Meanwhile, online learners may connect to the campus via group chats with instructors in real-time, and student discussions on Skype and in webinars are also encouraged. The school placed well in three 2014 graduate program honor rolls by U.S. News & World Report.

26. Fort Hays State University – Hays, Kansas

26. Fort Hays State University – Hays, Kansas

Online student Michelle Fairbank described “trying new things with technology that [she] never in a million years thought [she] would do” in completing her master’s degree at Hays, Kansas’ Fort Hays State University Virtual College. Distance learners use Blackboard to remain hooked up with their courses and can join in with classes in real-time or watch video recordings of them at their own leisure. Students also get free access to the website Smarthinking for tutor assistance as well as having the option to email, call or Skype their professors. There is a selection of over 40 online degree programs from which to choose, too, with the majority of them taught by Fort Hays State staff.

25. Utah State University – Logan, Utah

25. Utah State University – Logan, Utah

Student support is an important part of online life at Utah State University. As well as receiving attention from teachers and fellow distance learners, students taking an online course at the Logan-based school also benefit from an academic adviser. Meanwhile, a dedicated eTutoring website provides learners with three outlets for help: a writing lab, real-time sessions with a tutor, and an offline aid service. There are eight bachelor’s plus six master’s degrees and ten additional courses to choose from, available via Utah State’s online learning platform, Canvas. Content has been optimized for smartphones and tablets, and the university even has its own app.

24. Boston University – Boston, Massachusetts

24. Boston University – Boston, Massachusetts

Interactivity and community are essential elements of Boston University’s online degree and certificate courses, with technology the bedrock of the students’ virtual classrooms. Blackboard, Adobe Connect and Echo360 blend seamlessly, facilitating a variety of programs – and helping the school to have ranked second and eighth on U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs and Best Online Graduate Business Programs lists, respectively. Recorded lectures are accommodated online, as are animations and chat sessions, while Respondus LockDown Browser software ensures that learners complete their examinations in a controlled context. Distance learners are further encouraged to bond with their peers using allocated course web spaces.

23. Arizona State University – Tempe, Arizona

23. Arizona State University – Tempe, Arizona

In 2006 Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona became the first institution of its kind to utilize Google Apps for Education. Besides which, the forward-thinking school encourages learners to use social media site Facebook to contact instructors and connect with their classmates. And that’s not all. Students may create, edit, save and share documents and view lectures in an on-demand, asynchronous context within the school’s course organization system, LearningStudio. Hallway Conversations is another useful feature at Arizona State; it’s an “open forum” where “we can set up study groups, post questions and reply to them,” according to one student. Meanwhile, learners can get guidance 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the school’s technical support team as well as unlimited library access via an online chat facility. Furthermore, the library offers digitized versions of its collections.

22. McKendree University – Lebanon, Illinois

22. McKendree University – Lebanon, Illinois

In addition to offering online students substantial I.T. support, access to the Holman Library and the benefits of the Academic Support Center, McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois also provides assistance with writing, both online and in-person. TheWriting Center offers interactive online sessions with writing consultants, who work collaboratively with students to improve their writing skills and can assist during any stage of the writing process. Graduate and undergraduate classes are available – and in terms of student support, education and technology, the school was ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 list of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs and Best Online Graduate Business Programs.


21. SUNY Delhi – Delhi, New York

21. SUNY Delhi – Delhi, New York

SUNY Delhi in Delhi, New York took joint top spot in U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 honor roll for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. The school’s learning management system is called Vancko Hall, more widely known as open source e-learning software Moodle. Writing workshops and academic advice are among the benefits received by online students, who can also enjoy around-the-clock access to SUNY Delhi’s comprehensive Resnick Library – a repository of around 35,000 journals stored in 30 databases. The school’s regard led to it being a “critical component” in the launch of the innovative Open SUNY network, an online learning system that brings together all 64 campuses of New York’s state universities.

20. Pace University – New York City, New York

20. Pace University – New York City, New York

“Cutting-edge web-based technology” is used to deliver both wholly online and online-offline hybrid courses at New York’s Pace University. The school’s iPace program for course completion takes advantage of virtual learning management system Blackboard, while other software such as Echo360, Respondus and ProctorU helps give students a flexible and accessible distance learning experience. Pace also has a devoted advisory group for online students, who feel connected to the main campus thanks to programs that include web chats and other live online elements. Additionally, the school has a partnership with iTunes, providing an accessible platform that hosts submittable educational material. Pace University believes the amount of interaction – whether real-time or otherwise – between remote students and their instructors and peers should mirror that of the on-campus experience.

19. Central Michigan University – Mount Pleasant, Michigan

19. Central Michigan University – Mount Pleasant, Michigan

U.S. News & World Report featured Central Michigan University (CMU) in joint first place on its Best Online Bachelor’s Programs list for 2014. CMU’s Global Campus is based in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, and the school’s online classes offer prospective students a range of bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as graduate certificates. Distance learners can also use the Blackboard application 24 hours a day to access relevant material, submit work and chat with lecturers – and students may also be required to log in to planned live discussions. Besides which, anyone struggling to keep up can enlist the help of an Online Ally – a knowledgeable, advanced online learner able to offer insightful guidance and support.

18. Wright State University – Dayton, Ohio

18. Wright State University – Dayton, Ohio

Wright State University calls its distance education program a “new kind of learning” – and to back up this claim, the Dayton, Ohio-based school now boasts online classes featuring “new interactive video instruction” that “moves beyond the traditional e-learning environment.” That said, the more conventional aspects of distance learning are still comprehensibly covered, with all students using the school’s dedicated online portal, Pilot, to access course resources and information. Students can also enjoy the additional assistance of 24-hour tech support, seven days a week and utilize the university’s career services and library database. Live and recorded video will see learners through a selection of degree programs such as master’s in nursing and information systems.

17. Drexel University – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

17. Drexel University – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Drexel University has offered online programs for nigh on 20 years, and in 2010 the school was presented with the Sloan-C Award for Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Education. More than 100 online courses are taught by on-campus staff at the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based school, with Blackboard Learn used to enable students to collaborate on assignments and sit in on “live classrooms” with instructors and peers. Additional teaching tools include multimedia presentations and online threads. Through the Writing Center, students may also take advantage of real-time discussions with tutors, who can help with papers by offering guidance. Plus, there’s a mentoring scheme dedicated to “improving the student experience.”

16. University of California, Los Angeles – Los Angeles, California

16. University of California, Los Angeles – Los Angeles, California

U.S. News and World Report placed the online master’s degree at UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science second on its 2014 Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs list. Distance students get the same courses as their on-campus counterparts, with lectures and class materials made available via the school’s learning management system. Frequent real-time chats with instructors support learners through their study and are recorded and uploaded for students who can’t make the sessions. Meanwhile, the school has three lecture-capture studios on hand for the faculty; two are equipped with Echo360 software for asynchronous sessions and the third is provided with Blackboard Collaborate for live discussions and debates.

The 30 Most Technologically Savvy Online Schools Part-2

15. Sam Houston State University – Huntsville, Texas

15. Sam Houston State University – Huntsville, Texas

Huntsville, Texas’ Sam Houston State University boasts seven lecture theaters spread out across two campuses that have been equipped with interactive television technology. This enables classes to be streamed live to distance learners, with the added benefit of adjustable cameras and multiple microphones. Julie Combs, director of the Center for Research and Doctoral Studies in Educational Leadership, believes this “allows students from many different regions to join a class in a face-to-face format.” Online undergraduate and graduate programs are both run by the school, which utilizes Blackboard to organize course content while also enabling web-based students to use the university’s library, career services and writing hub.

14. Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California – Los Angeles, California

14. Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California – Los Angeles, California

More than 40 online master’s programs are available through the University of Southern California’s Distance Education Network at the Viterbi School of Engineering in Los Angeles. A number of interactive applications – such as Skype, Cisco WebEx and BlueJeans – are used to encourage teamwork, and remote students even have access to a toll-free number to contact their professors for assistance. Lectures are streamed live from distinctive “studio classrooms” before being archived along with the relevant notes. The school’s commitment to distance learning is also seen in its innovative Viterbi iPodia program, which strives to “create a true ‘classrooms-without-borders’ paradigm around the world.”

13. Westfield State University – Westfield, Massachusetts

13. Westfield State University – Westfield, Massachusetts

Massachusetts-based Westfield State University’s distance program is called PLATO, or People Learning and Teaching Online. Six bachelor’s completion courses and four minors as well as numerous other online classes are offered, all backed up by free eTutoring from Smarthinking. Podcasting is encouraged through the use of Audacity software, while image and video capture is made possible by TechSmith’s Jing application. Blackboard Collaborate is the university’s latest web conferencing tool, and students receive considerable concessions on Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite software thanks to the school’s licensing agreements. Meanwhile, faculty members are put through their paces at Web Camp, an acclaimed training program for effective online teaching, helping the school rank number 1 in 2013 and number 3 in 2014 for Training and Faculty Credentials by U. S. News & World Reports.


12. Washington State University – Pullman, Washington

12. Washington State University – Pullman, Washington

“Our faculty and course designers work together to ensure the online classroom is engaging, lively and interactive,” states Washington State University’s official website. The school’s online learning platform, Angel, is the property of Blackboard and is largely maintained on campus in Pullman, Washington. Instructors are also encouraged to utilize a variety of technology to deliver course content. Students can employ digital pens to easily review notes from lectures and may record presentations using screen capture software like TechSmith’s Camtasia. “Virtual field trips” are promoted, as is the option of creating digital games directly in Angel. The online community is further supported by access to a student government, virtual mentors and extracurricular events.

11. Northern Illinois University – DeKalb, Illinois


With official Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts and more all accessible from the university’s own social media “SmashUp” page, Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois is proud of the “community-building” capabilities of its technologies. One faculty member responsible for the online courses stated, “If you are not moving ahead in this field, you are falling behind.” That’s why iOS and Android platforms can deliver course content to online students, and software like Adobe Connect and Blackboard are used alongside podcasting, blogging and a custom “lecture capture” classroom. In 2014 the school topped U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Graduate Education Programs list.

10. Western Carolina University – Cullowhee, North Carolina

10. Western Carolina University – Cullowhee, North Carolina

Distance students at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina can augment their education with the use of live streaming video and audio as well as with remote access to their instructors. The school began offering distance education in 1997, and it constantly endeavors to take “maximum advantage of the changes in information and communications technologies.” So whether enrolled in a fully online course or a hybrid degree, learners still have access to the university’s Hunter Library – including the ability to directly receive information and research services 24 hours a day, Monday to Friday, and from 8:00 a.m. to midnight on weekends. Students may use the library’s comprehensive database to retrieve digital texts and request materials from the physical collections.

9. East Carolina University – Greenville, North Carolina

9. East Carolina University – Greenville, North Carolina

At Greenville, North Carolina’s East Carolina University, distance education is made easy with the use of collaborative communication applications from Blackboard and Saba. Furthermore, each online learner is given access to the school’s own Onestop student portal, which enables them to customize the system’s interface and browse a variety of relevant materials. The school boasts over 80 online courses, with live talks between students and teachers available in some of them. Coursework is submitted digitally, and tutors are also on-hand during stipulated hours so that distance learners can feel connected to the main campus.

8. St. John’s University – New York City, New York

8. St. John’s University – New York City, New York

At St. John’s University in Queens, New York, nearly three quarters of all distance courses are taught by current on-campus staff, and every full-time remote (and on-campus) degree learner is given a new laptop. Additionally, distance learners have the opportunity to access important aspects of university life such as the library and ministry. Daily communication with lecturers is encouraged, and much of the program involves active engagement in online discussion boards. These exceptional features have helped the school reach fifth place on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Graduate Education Programs list for 2014. Recent graduate Errol Adams says that his online course “kept [him] abreast of all the advances in technology throughout [his] profession.”

7. University of Denver – Denver, Colorado

7. University of Denver – Denver, Colorado

“Our philosophy is to embrace technology to improve and accelerate learning for busy adults,” states the University of Denver’s official University College website. The physical campus is based in Denver, but the online learning platform Canvas is accessible to distance learners 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Students can enjoy real-time messaging with peers, stream multimedia and contribute to talks via web conferencing tools. Master’s and bachelor’s degrees are available, along with other courses and certificates, and there’s also the option to be fully online or part of a blended class – although the course content in both cases is identical. What’s more, with technical support on hand all day, every day, there’s no excuse for being late with an assignment.

6. Regent University – Virginia Beach, Virginia

6. Regent University – Virginia Beach, Virginia

As a Christian-affiliated school, Regent University in Virginia Beach offers its online students not just 24-hour technical support, but around-the-clock spiritual guidance as well. Benefits include access to the school’s digital library, writing center, internet-based seminars and workshops (at the Center for Student Development) and the ability to stream content from Regent’s chapel. Blackboard Collaborate is used to create a virtual learning environment incorporating scheduled face-to-face educational exercises, while a personalized Regent webpage is offered to each student to allow ease of access to learning accounts and emails. A variety of undergraduate and graduate online degrees are obtainable – more than 50 in total – alongside several hybrid courses.

5. University of Wisconsin-Platteville – Platteville, Wisconsin

5. University of Wisconsin-Platteville – Platteville, Wisconsin

Desire2Learn, Pioneer Administrative Software System (PASS) and Atomic Learning are three technologically savvy means used to deliver online courses at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. PASS is responsible for program registration and financial support. Desire2Learn, meanwhile, is the school’s education management system of choice; it’s a solution that in addition to taking care of media content and prospectuses, can connect with Atomic Learning’s digestible video tutorials to improve learning. In 2014 University Business magazine selected the school as one of its eight “Models of Efficiency” in the U.S. – an acknowledgement of “innovative approaches for streamlining operations through technology,” according to the university. Faculty member Dawn Drake explains, “We find technology to support what we do to help students get the education they need.”

4. New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering – New York City, New York


The 2014 U.S. News & World Report list of Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs placed the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering in New York City at number twelve. The school’s director of online and virtual learning, John Vivolo, says that the programs are “diverse, interactive and ever-evolving” in terms of the technologies that they use. Lectures are available to be viewed live or at a later date – even through smartphones and tablets – while content is also delivered via the Blackboard learning system. Plus, distance students can remotely access the university’s library resources and career services and benefit from frequent communication with peers and staff by utilizing online discussion boards and webinars.

3. Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Science, Columbia University – New York City, New York

3. Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Science, Columbia University – New York City, New York

Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science in New York City topped U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Graduate Engineering Program list in 2014. Its graduate remote-learning school, the Columbia Video Network, has been described by one student as providing an “Ivy League, world-class education” and having an “outstanding” choice of classes. All of the relevant course resources are accessible online, and distance learners are taught identical lessons to those of their on-site peers. This is achievable through the use of bespoke on-campus classrooms, which record live lectures that can then be streamed or downloaded by online students – with the additional benefit of high-resolution footage. There’s also a special Student Center system that makes virtual collaboration possible.

2. Wilmington University – New Castle, Delaware

2. Wilmington University – New Castle, Delaware

There are in excess of 80 fully online classes on offer at New Castle, Delaware’s Wilmington University. Each virtual classroom is kept to an average of 17 learners, fostering a “personalized” educational experience with easy communication between instructors and peers. This can be accessed through the school’s Blackboard discussion boards, email, Skype or the web conferencing tool, Collaborate. Attendees may even take advantage of the online student association’s monthly meetings for all web-based students in a comfortable webinar format utilizing Blackboard Collaborate. Advanced multimedia content is added to Blackboard by Kaltura Building Block software, while faculty can use Swivl to record classes. Learners also benefit from an array of online student services – from writing workshops to mentoring – as well as around-the-clock technical assistance.

1. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach, Florida

1. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach, Florida

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida has been offering distance education opportunities since 1971. Today, it presents an array of master’s, associate and bachelor’s programs, with the university ranking joint fifth on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs list for 2014. Students enrolled in an online course can benefit from an impressive range of services, such as 24-hour tech support, seven days a week and a variety of apps for tablets and smartphones. Embry-Riddle Worldwide also employs an innovative, staff-developed piece of software called EagleVision Home, which enables remote students to experience live classes in a virtual environment and interact with peers and faculty in real-time.

Taking the First Steps Towards Teaching With Video Games

Educators at Nordahl Grieg Upper Secondary, a public high school in Norway, are taking a unique approach to teaching that treats video games as just another classroom tool.

If teachers use books, music, videos and websites as resources for teaching, video games should also be included on that list, according to Nordahl Grieg teacher Tobias Staaby. He and his colleagues, including Aleksander Husøy, have been demonstrating the uses of video games to educators by inviting them to a workshop at the school each semester.

Staaby says it helps to take a look at who plays games. According to the Entertainment Software Association, which represents the video game industry, the average age of a video game player in the U.S. is 35 years old, which can be closer to the age of a teacher than a student.

Staaby and Husøy were at the Games Learning Society conference in Wisconsin earlier this month to talk about how they use video games in the classroom. When they host their workshops for teachers, they start off with these steps:

Show That It Works
When educators observe classrooms that use video games for learning, they can see the discussions that unfold and the lessons learned through the platform. In digital games like “The Walking Dead,” players have to make choices, explain their decisions and experience the results of their selections. Controlling outcomes, such as a character’s path and responses, makes a video game a different and more immersive experience than traditional books or movies in which the content is fixed.

A screengrab of The Walking Dead game by TellTale Games. The player has to decide how to respond to a group of strangers.

A screengrab of ‘The Walking Dead’ game by TellTale Games. In this scene, the player has to decide how to respond to a group of strangers.

Attending a Nordahl Grieg workshop to learn about video games in the classroom is one option, but there may be a teacher nearby who is using games. For educators with specific content areas and needs, there are game reviews written by educators on Gamindex and Common Sense Graphite.

In the workshop, educators can start playing games to see how they work. Staaby and Husøy start them off with “Gone Home,” “The Walking Dead” and “This War of Mine.”

After trying out the games, educators look for ways to create lessons. Staaby, Husøy and their colleagues share and develop ideas during the workshop, but encourage anyone interested in using video games in the classroom to take ownership over how they will use them.

“It’s important to experience autonomy and be in control of whatever you’re doing,” said Staaby. “We say it’s important for students to be motivated and be in control of their learning situation, but that applies to teachers as well.”

And while there are out-of-the-box lesson plans, Staaby encourages educators to adapt lessons to their own classrooms. He says to think of a lesson plan as a recipe that can be adjusted for the ingredients you have available and that will meet the dietary needs of your students.

Rethink Learning Goals
In some cases, the learning that takes place when using games isn’t immediately obvious. Many of the workshop video games at Nordahl Grieg were not designed to be educational and don’t come with specified learning goals, but creative educators identified benefits for students anyway.

Staaby likens this approach to what teachers already do with films, books or videos that weren’t created with students in mind but can spark lessons, even if those sources are not packaged as educational content. He refers to an observation Husøy made about the bias many educators feel against video games as a learning tool.

“It’s weird the assumption that games have to have this stamp of approval,” said Staaby. “If it’s the EDU version, it’s OK. But we don’t have EDU versions of classical literature or music or movies.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Games allow players multiple attempts at accomplishing any goal, a good model for educators to use in their own approach to teaching with video games. Often teachers feel they need to be technically savvy with the game before using it as a teaching tool, but games are the perfect opportunity for teachers to share responsibility for learning with students. Trusting students in this way gives them learning autonomy, builds relationships and lets them be the experts, a great way to learn.

What do Students Lose by Being Perfect? Valuable Failure


In the first pages of Being Wrong, Kathryn Schulz writes, “In our collective imagination, error is associated not just with shame and stupidity but also with ignorance, indolence, psychopathology, and moral degeneracy.” This cultural terror of messing up, combined with modern modes of parenting and schooling obsessed with narrow versions of academic and career “success,” are making students more than risk-averse.

Books like How to Raise an Adult and Teach Your Children Well say kids are coming to college “underconstructed,” at best unsure of who they are and where they fit, at worst anxious and depressed, because their parents have protected them from the uncomfortable and unacceptable state of being wrong. Focused on getting the grades or winning the game and excused from helping out around the house, these children have internalized the pressure, and it’s morphed into a monster that paralyzes kids in their ability to take risks, screw up, find out the consequences and learn from their mistakes.

Parent and educator Jessica Lahey, author of the new book The Gift of Failure, wants parents (and teachers) to back off. She said it’s time for adults to do the responsible thing and let the children fail. Trying something and failing, she writes, is how children learn and make discoveries about themselves and the world around them. This applies to unloading the dishwasher as well as the science fair. Becoming autonomous gives children pride in themselves and their abilities, and makes them independent thinkers and doers who can cope with the ups and downs of life.

But it will be messy, and adults should expect as much. To Lahey’s credit, The Gift of Failure defiantly rejects the binary choices of either “triumphant or bumbling adulthood” as end goals, and sees growing up as a series of peaks and valleys with lots of time to figure things out in between. Instead, she offers practical advice, steeped in the latest research, on how to let kids find their own way as parents and teachers guide them, the key word being guide — not instruct, dictate, or enable. Giving kids autonomy may or may not make them a big “success,” but the research supports that it will make kids happier, less anxious and depressed, and more fulfilled to work towards agency in their own lives.

Lahey taught middle school for more than a dozen years, and said that in that period of time, she watched as kids went from cautious to take risks to too terrified to even make a move — write a sentence, for example — without considering what people might think or how it would affect their grade.

“The thing I began to notice was not the fear of an ‘F’, it was the fear of any mistake,” she said. “It’s not that students couldn’t get to a final draft, they couldn’t get even their ideas down. From a teacher’s point of view, that’s a nightmare! If they can’t take a risk, then certainly they aren’t raising their hand with an I-wanna-try-this-idea-out kind of thing.”

Many educators already know this, but what to do about it? Educators can play a crucial part in helping kids to get comfortable with failure, which Lahey calls “autonomy-supportive teaching” and goes hand-in-hand with “autonomy-supportive parenting.” She says there are ways educators can encourage parents to let go, and here are a few:

Encourage parents to think of raising a child as a long-haul job

Stop bringing forgotten homework to school, Lahey tells the parents of her students. And stop stressing over how your daughter will do on next week’s quiz: instead, focus on what your daughter can learn if she does it all herself, without nagging and pestering and pressure. If she does indeed fail the quiz, she may be forced to ask herself what went wrong, and what she could do better next time. Parenting is a long-haul job, Lahey says, and parents and teachers need to think more about what’s going to make kids happy in the long term. In the case of the quiz, the short-term goal is getting an ‘A,’ but the long-term goal of self-sufficiency eclipses that minor ‘A’ by a long shot.

“It’s so freeing!” she said. “You can stop worrying about the stupid details of the moment-to-moment junk, and start focusing on the big things. Just think about where your kid was one year ago today. They’re amazing!” Lahey said she’s not sure if adults just forget, or worry that’s not true. She suspects, though, that parents don’t see the amazing growth in kids because they aren’t given the opportunity to show it very often.

Focus on Process Instead of Product

Lahey confesses this is a tricky balance, especially since schools today are inherently — almost obsessively — focused on product (and may inadvertently be contributing to parents’ anxieties over academic success). But there are ways to get around that, she says.

Adjust expectations (and grades) to make room for real student work. In the book, Lahey asks a kindergarten teacher what her kids can do that their parents don’t think they can. She responds: “Everything!” In autonomy-supportive teaching, work that students plan and orchestrate themselves will look like — well, like a kid did it. That means no more science projects worthy of their own Nobel. “Teachers need to move their expectations as well. Our lines for where grades should be have creeped up anyway, based on our expectations for what the product should look like. Our expectations have been skewed by the work of the parents.”

Back away from the parent portal

One of the biggest pitfalls to autonomy-supportive parenting, Lahey says, are the parent portal websites, with access to up-to-the-minute feedback about scores and grades. Lahey and her husband decided to forgo the parent portal for their older child. They handed the password over to their son, telling him he’d need to let them know if he was in academic trouble. Some of her friends were shocked, “as if we were defaulting on our parental duty,” she writes. “I disagree. Checking in on children’s grades is a type of surveillance, which is one of the forms of control and is often mentioned in the research as an enemy of autonomy and intrinsic motivation.”

For parents who decide to forego the parent portal (or only check it occasionally), Lahey recommends sending a note to teachers about the decision, explaining that your student is now responsible for her own communication information.

Consider the Fear of Failure May Affect More Kids Than You Think

Some educators have called out the rash of overparenting books as only written for a few upper-class parents; some have called The Overstressed American Child “a myth.” Many students are well-acquainted with failure, both their own personal shortcomings as well as the systemic failures of their schools and homes. While Lahey openly admits that The Gift of Failure doesn’t apply to everyone, she cautions that it’s not just the 1% who are terrified of their kids failing: “What I did find out by talking to teachers, is that it’s far more pervasive than we thought,” Lahey said. “We’re talking about a big chunk, a lot of middle class kids are getting the same kind of pressure,” as kids at the top. Many times, she said, the pressure’s even greater if a family doesn’t have the means to pay for college — especially when it comes to sports and scholarships.

Fear of failure destroys the love of learning

In chapter 2, Lahey relates the story of one of her students, capable and intelligent Marianna, who has “sacrificed her natural curiosity and and love of learning at the altar of achievement, and it’s our fault.”

We taught her that her potential is tied to her intellect, and her intellect is more important than her character. We taught her to protect her academic and extracurricular perfection at all costs and that it’s better to quit when things get challenging rather than risk marring that perfection.

Above all else, we have taught her to fear failure, and that fear has destroyed her love of learning.

And this is the real shame: fear of failure taints the waters of learning, keeping kids from taking risks. Making failure normal — even celebrated — Lahey contends, may be uncomfortable in the short-term, but in the long haul makes for happier, more confident kids.

When Educators Make Space For Play and Passion, Students Develop Purpose

Students and their teacher watch the progress of their paper rockets during a “tinkering day.”

Harvard education specialist Tony Wagner has been advocating that we reinvent the education system to promote innovation for years. He’s clear that content should no longer be at the center of school. Instead, he says a teacher’s main job should be to help students develop key skills necessary for when they leave school. He contends there are seven essential things young people need to be successful lifelong learners:

  1. Formulate good questions
  2. Communicate in groups and lead by influence
  3. Be agile and adaptable
  4. Take initiative and be entrepreneurial
  5. Effective written and oral communication skills
  6. Know how to  access and analyze information
  7. Be creative and imaginative

Wagner worries that unless the U.S. starts focusing on cultivating these skills, the nation will no longer produce innovative people who drive job growth. He interviewed dozens of innovative young people and asked them about their experiences in school. One third of those he interviewed couldn’t name one teacher who had impacted them. The other two thirds named teachers, who upon further investigation, were outliers in their schools. Their teaching styles and approaches were at odds with the dominant school culture.

Wagner found that all of these tremendously influential teachers ran classrooms that emphasized interdisciplinary learning, real team collaboration, risk taking, creating learning as opposed to consuming knowledge, and cultivated intrinsic motivation in students. These teachers made room for playful exploration and student passions in the classroom, helping their students to develop the purpose that drives them. He co-authored “Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era” with Tony Dintersmith.

5 Surprising Perspectives About Online Schools

Most people think of online learning as a quiet, solitary experience. But over the past few months, after interviewing students, parents, and educators, a different sort of picture has emerged. We’ve learned about who teaches and learns online, and why, what works and what doesn’t, and perhaps most importantly, whether online learning affords the same quality of education as that of traditional schools.

I spoke with Apex Learning CEO Cheryl Vedoe, one of the leading online curriculum providers to traditional and virtual schools; Maureen Cottrell, a science teacher at iHigh Virtual Academy in San Diego, California; Rian Meadows, an economics instructor at Florida Virtual School; Patti Joubert, the mother of two full-time Florida Virtual School students; and Carylanne and Christiane Joubert, her two daughters.

As with most issues in education, nothing is black and white. There are many different kinds of learners and teachers, and while virtual education may be a revelation for some, it would never work for others.

It’s true that Skyping and instant-messaging can’t replace the face-to-face experience — and for those who need the social interaction — both teachers and students — virtual schools would be difficult. “The high school experience in which you’re socializing with your peers or doing sports after school is important. There are a lot of teachers who would hate to use Skype all the time; they’d prefer being in the classroom. They would hate my job,” said Cottrell, a science teacher at iHigh Virtual Academy. “I think you have to be a certain personality type and have a certain mindset to be a virtual teacher and still ensure student success.”

That said, here are five surprising perspectives you might not have associated with online learning.

1. Students get more one-on-one interaction with teachers, not less.

  • “Students still talk with their teachers; you might even say they talk more. When I was in school, you didn’t have many one-on-one conversations with your teachers. Your teachers spoke to you, they didn’t speak with you. Here, they do oral exams, they talk with the kids, they really get to know each student.” — Patti Joubert, parent of Florida Virtual School students
  • “If you have an issue, if you’re not quite getting something, you can email or text your teacher. I get a call from one of my teachers at least once a week asking if I’m doing okay, if I need help. I think you get a better way to talk to teachers [in virtual school]. You get that one-on-one.” — Christianne Joubert, 13, Florida Virtual School student
  • “The one-on-one interaction with students is key. My students will say, ‘You’re there to help me when I need it!’ It takes down a lot of barriers that kids have to asking questions in class.” — Rian Meadows, economics instructor, Florida Virtual School.

2. Online courses are not necessarily easier than traditional courses.

  • “Many students get into our system and find that they didn’t know how difficult it was going to be. I think the virtual world does make your life easier in a lot of ways. But it doesn’t make education easier. You’re not going to learn more easily or teach more easily; it’s just different.” — Maureen Cottrell, science teacher, iHigh Virtual Academy
  • “Our courses are often viewed as too rigorous by the schools. One of the things the New York Times article pointed to was that the student wasn’t required to a read a work of literature. We do require that, but school districts don’t always choose to implement the entire curriculum.” — Cheryl Vedoe, CEO of Apex Learning
  • “Most of the assignments are essays and take hours to do,” — commenter and student of FLVS.

3. Online learning could work for unmotivated students, as well as for those who are self-disciplined.

  • “People always say, ‘It has to be for the highly motivated.’ No. That is our job as teachers. I don’t care if you’re a virtual or a brick-and-mortar teacher. We all have to help motivate our students across the board to be an effective instructor. Parents of children with learning disabilities will say, ‘How will my child be able to fit in?’ But often, if a child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), most of what it might say we already do here, such as allowing unlimited time on tests or letting kids redo assignments.” — Rian Meadows, economics instructor, Florida Virtual School
  • “Whenever I meet another kid my age, I always recommend it as another way to do school. Especially for kids who don’t have an easy time with homework or with school.” — Christianne Joubert, 13, Florida Virtual School student
  • “Credit recovery is not new, but in the past the only option schools had was to have the student repeat the course. This was typically unsuccessful. If they failed it the first time, they might fail it the second time using that model. But they might succeed in a different model. Students can go quickly through the material and only take time when they need to work on specific skills.” — Cheryl Vedoe, CEO of Apex Learning

4. Online learning can create a lot more free time for extracurricular activities.

  • “I get to travel at whatever pace I want to. If I’m having a bad week, or a bad day with my diabetes, it doesn’t matter. I have Monday through Sunday to do my work. The flexibility makes it a lot easier. And with more time on our hands, it’s easier to do other activities like volunteering or Girl Scouts or other clubs.” — Carylanne Joubert, 14, Florida Virtual School student
  • “By having this type of learning, we are able to still have a family life. We have the ability to travel when we want to and choose our time. You can’t do that in traditional schools.” — Patti Joubert, parent of Florida Virtual School students

5. Students can learn how to work cooperatively even without face-to-face interaction.

  • “In all the courses they’ve taken so far, they’ve had assignments where they pair up with another student and do a project together. It’s a good experience — they’re learning how to overcome the challenges of working with someone else and to interact with other kids. Just because you don’t ‘see’ someone doesn’t mean you’re not interacting.” — Patti Joubert, parent of Florida Virtual School students
  • “I’m in the newspaper club at FLVS. I’m able to have my voice heard and get across what I think is important. We have online meetings every Tuesday through Eluminate Live. It’s just like every other school newspaper, we’re just online.” — Christianne Joubert, 13, Florida Virtual School student
  • “We have great phone conversations and discussion-based assessments. The students connect with one another, too. We have discussion groups where students post something and other students will post back; plus, they do a lot of collaborative projects and group work.” — Rian Meadows, economics instructor, Florida Virtual School

10 Advantages to Taking Online Classes

The current challenges facing traditional colleges and universities, including higher tuition, budget cuts, and course shortages, have caused many students to search for alternatives. With nearly three million students currently enrolled in fully online degree programs  and six million taking at least one online course as part of their degree program, online education has clearly become one of the most popular higher education alternatives. The continually improving reputation of online learning has also helped fuel its expansion, as initial skepticism has faltered in the face of evidence that shows that online learning can be just as effective as face-to-face education.

All of this means that students, from working professionals to recent high school graduates, find many reasons to take all or some of their courses online. Below are 10 advantages to online learning.

  1. Variety of programs and courses: From traditional four-year universities to completely online career colleges, higher education today offers a variety of options for students. This means that no matter what students wish to study, from nursing to neuroscience, they can find online the courses or degree programs they need. They can also earn every academic degree online, all the way from a career certificate to a doctorate.
  2. Lower total costs: Online programs can be a more affordable option than traditional colleges. Though not all online degrees have less expensive net tuition prices than traditional colleges (link to OEDB article I wrote about college costs), associated costs are almost always less expensive. For example, there are no commuting costs, and sometimes there is also not any required course materials such as textbooks because those are often available for free online. In addition, many colleges and universities have begun to accept credits earned via free massive open online courses (MOOCs), the most recent advance in online education. Free online courses such as these can help students fulfill general education requirements at little to no cost.
  3. More comfortable learning environment: Commercials that featuring online students studying in the pajamas only skim the surface of one of the primary benefits of online education: there are no physical class sessions. Lectures and other materials are electronically sent to the student, who will then read them and complete assignments. Students will not have to fight traffic, find parking spaces, leave work early to go to class, or miss important family time.
  4. Convenience and flexibility: Online courses give students the opportunity to plan their study time around the rest of their day, instead of the other way around. Students can study and work when they are at their peak energy, whether that’s early morning or late at night. Course material is always accessible online, so there’s no need to schedule special trips to a library either. All of this makes online learning a good option for students who need to balance their work and family commitments.
  5. More interaction and greater ability to concentrate: While there is contradictory evidence about the rate of online student participation versus participation in traditional courses, one thing is certain: online courses offer shy or more reticent students the opportunity to participate in class discussions or chats with more ease than face-to-face class sessions. Some students even report that online courses are easier to concentrate in because they are not distracted by other students and classroom activity.
  6. Career advancement: Students can take online courses and even complete entire degrees while working, while in-between jobs, or while taking time to raise a family. This academic work will explain any discontinuity or gaps in a resume as well. Also, earning a degree can show prospective employers that you are ambitious and want to remain informed and prepared for any new challenges.
  7. Continue in your profession: Even if someone wants to complete a degree program, it doesn’t mean that they want to leave their current job. For most students today, college costs mean that it’s necessary to continue working while in school. The previously mentioned flexibility of online degree programs enable students to keep working while also pursuing academic credentials.
  8. Avoid commuting: During snowstorms and thunderstorms, colleges may cancel classes; if they don’t, you run the risk of getting hurt in dangerous driving conditions. Rather than miss important class sessions, students in online courses can always “attend” by participating on discussion boards or in chat sessions, turn in their work on time, and watch lectures or read materials. Many students also find that the amount they save on fuel costs can be substantial if they don’t have to commute to a physical campus in general, no matter what the weather conditions may be.
  9. Improve your technical skills: Even the most basic online course requires the development of new computer skills, as students learn to navigate different learning management systems (LMS) and programs. The skills students learn to participate in their online courses translate to many professions, including creating and sharing documents, incorporating audio/video materials into your assignments, completing online training sessions, etc.
  10. Transfer credits: For college students who want to attend summer classes, but who live too far from their colleges or have to work summer jobs, taking online classes from an accredited college and transferring the credits to their primary college is a good idea. Students will be able to earn college credit while still enjoying their summer vacation or fulfilling the responsibilities of their seasonal jobs. Similarly, if a college or university is unable to offer enough open sections of a required course, students can take the course online at another college and transfer the credits.

The 50 Best Online High School Diplomas Part-1

Online-StudentAn Online High School Diploma may be your ticket for graduating high school as well as your springboard to a first-rate education. Having a high school diploma has significant advantages over passing the GED, or the General Education Development test, which is supposed to certify academic skills at the high school level, but sets the bar much lower than a good high school education.

Many reasons exist why people are discouraged or prevented from completing high school in the traditional way. It’s important to realize, however, that adults with a high school diploma or GED earn an average of $11,000 per year more than adults who haven’t finished high school (US Census Bureau). Furthermore, those with diplomas make considerably more than those with GEDs. For more about the advantages of a diploma over a GED, see our article “High School Diplomas versus the GED.”

The variety and availability of online high school diploma programs can be both liberating and frustrating. Diplomas from quality online high schools are academically equivalent to those earned in the traditional high school setting, and should be recognized as such by potential employers and colleges and universities. However, searching for an online high school diploma program without knowing certain facts and pitfalls can waste time, money, and energy.

In determining the quality of a potential online high school program, accreditation and state approval are of prime importance. Programs accredited through agencies recognized by the USDE (U.S. Department of Education) are your safest bet in terms of legitimacy. These are usually regional or national accrediting agencies.

Regional accreditation is the most accepted in terms of transferring coursework or pursuing a college degree. If a school isn’t up front about their accreditation status or the accrediting agency isn’t recognized by the USDE, you may want to look elsewhere. Legitimate online high school programs must also be state-approved. This means they must be approved in the state from which the diploma will be issued, regardless of the state in which the student resides.

In determining the value of an online high school program, you will want to consider the following: rate of successful program completion, ease of communication with the school and with teachers, flexibility and delivery of classes, counseling and tutoring services, individualized programming, availability of specialization (engineering, religion, arts, etc.), dual credit offerings, and extracurricular activities or clubs.

The cost for an online high school education ranges anywhere from $0 – $10,000+ per year. This depends on the type of high school and whether government funding is available. All schools should provide an itemized list of costs and should explain how tuition is charged (by credits, by class, by semester, etc.).

Four Basic Types of Online High School Diploma Programs

There are four types of online high school diploma programs: private, public, charter, and college/university sponsored. Many parents of homeschool students turn to programs offered by private, accredited high schools for curriculum and assistance. Each program type has its place; it’s up to you to figure out which is right for you.

Public & Charter Online High School Diplomas:
Public and charter school programs are government funded, are offered by particular states or districts, and are free to resident minors. They are usually accredited regionally and are state-approved. Online public schools have rigid guidelines, have limited course selections, and often cater only to certain resident populations. Charter schools offer more flexibility with either specialized or individualized programming, but they run the risk of losing funding and are viewed as less stable. They are also often not available to students outside of certain districts.

Each state’s department of education maintains a list of funded online programs, including charter schools. Because these programs are based on each state’s approved curriculum and are restricted to certain populations based on residency and age, it is meaningless to rank these programs.

Private Online High School Diplomas:
Private online high schools vary greatly in terms of quality, recognition, and cost. This avenue demands the most research (which we’ve greatly assisted in) but also offers some top-notch education programs at great values. Private online high schools are usually offered nation-wide and have limited government oversight. They offer great programs in terms of catering to the needs of individual students, offering specialized interest programming, and meeting a variety of learning styles.

Homeschool graduates most often use private online high schools for the curriculum, even though they may receive their diplomas through their resident states. Many of these private schools have programs that cater specifically to the needs of homeschool students. The drawback of private schools: They can be very costly. Furthermore, even the most exciting programs need to be properly accredited for a valuable education.

College & University Sponsored Online High School Diplomas
University sponsored online high school diploma programs offer many programming advantages and often have regional accreditation. Most university sponsored programs offer a high quality education, flexibility, and advanced and dual credit programs. However, these programs often have more selective admission standards, have less interaction with instructors or services, and can be expensive.

University sponsored programs tend to work best for students who can monitor their own progress and work independently. Motivated students may have the opportunity to complete a full year of college courses by the time they graduate from high school. This can be a significant value for students planning to pursue college degrees. For the purpose of classifying high school diploma programs, programs offered by colleges and universities are usually not public, even if the institution is a public college or university.


The Best Online High School Diploma Programs

Best-schools-sealThe following private and university-affiliated high school diploma programs have all received regional accreditation, except for the two that are independent school districts in the state of Texas. To find more about accreditation, click here.

The listed schools were evaluated based on their programming, academic oversight (accreditation status at publication time), state approval, performance, inclusivity, personal attention, and cost. Refer to the cost table provided to identify tuition ranges.

$ = $1,000 or less $$$ = $4,001 – $5,000
$+ = $1,001 – $2,000 $$$+ = $5,001 – $6,000
$$ = $2,001 – $3,000 $$$$ = $6,001 – $7,000
$$+ = $3,001 – $4,000 $$$$+ = $7,000 or more


1. Northstar Academy

Northstar-Academy-logoNorthstar was the first online Christian school to receive accreditation and has maintained it ever since then. Northstar offers quality academic courses, learning materials and resources, instructor support and an interactive community of online users. Students can enroll at anytime with classes forming monthly.

The course selection at NSA includes almost 200 core and elective courses, including Advanced Placement courses. Many courses are designed “in house” and deliver a Christian worldview. Students can pursue the Standard, Advanced, or the AP International high school diploma. Additional programs/initiatives offered include the following: homeschooling assistance, supplemental courses, Christian school support programs, dual credit college courses, ESL courses, parent-led courses, and Bible studies and interest clubs. Tuition is calculated on a per course basis.

Accreditation: AdvancED, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
Cost: $+

2. Indiana University High School

Indiana-University-High-SchoolIU High School offers high school diplomas to both youth and adult learners. IU has been educating distance learners since 1925 and its reputation attracts students from around the world. Meeting the needs of online students, the school provides high quality courses, an experienced, professional staff, licensed and certified instructors, and academic advisors. This program supports students from a diverse population, including homeschoolers, gifted students, artists and athletes, incarcerated students, children of military personnel, and home-bound students.

Online courses are offered through Dragon or Oncourse, with Oncourse being IU’s course management system. Through either system, students can access course content, view course syllabus and grades, and apply for exams. While courses are self-paced, IUHS requires a minimum of six weeks on each course and lessons to be done in the order presented and turned in one at a time. This allows instructors to give helpful feedback to assist in future lessons. Students can pursue one of three high school diploma options: general education, college preparatory, and academic honors. Additional programs/initiatives available include print courses, supplemental coursework, AP courses, and dual college credit courses. Tuition is calculated on a per course basis.

Accreditation: AdvancED, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI).
Cost: $$

3. Forest Trail Academy

logohighresForest Trail is committed to offering an educational foundation that will serve for both students pursuing continued education or entering into a career path. The College Prep high school diploma track requires foreign language classes and for half the program credits to be in specified rigorous-level courses. Parents and students can access the Advisor System, which offers assistance in course and program selections and college exploration and application.

Forest Trail encourages students to socialize through various cross-curricular online activities. Programs and initiatives offered include the following: vocational education diploma, part-time status, summer school, high school equivalency certificate, and a prescriptive/adaptive program. Tuition is calculated by academic year for programs and by credit for supplemental courses.

Accreditation: AdvancED, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), and National Association of Private & Home Schools (NAPHS).
Cost: $+ – $$

4. Christian Educators Academy

Christian-Educators-AcademyCEA uses high-quality curriculum, professional Christian teachers, and a wide variety of courses to tailor instruction to meet the needs of each student. A low student-to-teacher ratio allows teachers to get to know the students and to encourage positive intellectual and emotional development.

Students can choose from three high school diploma options, creating a 3-5 year graduation plan: college preparatory track, honors/advanced placement track, and standard academic track. While students can start courses when they want and work at their own pace, they are given a year to complete up to 6 courses. Additional programs and initiatives include: remedial courses, Literacy Advantage, honors/AP, career-vocational training, and home schooling assistance. Tuition is calculated on an academic year basis.

Accreditation: AdvancED and Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC).
Cost: $$

5. Christa McAuliffe School of Arts and Sciences

Christa-McAuliffe-Academy-A&SThe Christa McAuliffe School of Arts and Sciences upholds a Personalized Education Philosophy, using curriculum and teaching methods based on current brain and educational research. Students engage in self-paced, mastery-based courses, that are personalized to their interests, goals and learning styles. Students can access their classes at anytime and have regular interaction with instructors.

CMSAS offers several high school diploma options based on student goals: standard, college prep, and career prep. Many extracurricular activities are available, such as language clubs, a student newspaper, and a technology club. Other programs/initiatives offered include Honors/AP coursework, adult high school completion, service promotion, and a global adventure program. Tuition is calculated on an academic year basis.

Accreditation: Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC) and The Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation (CITA).
Cost: $$+

6. University of Missouri—MU Online High School

Mizzou-online-high-schoolMU Online offers more than 180 courses with a variety of delivery methods for learners, both minors and adults, to take towards earning a high school diploma. Students can choose between self-paced independent study and semester learning. In semester learning courses, students progress through the class with an instructor and classmates as a group. This method offers online live chats and discussions, increased time with instructors, weekly calendars, and assignments with due dates. Self-paced courses have rolling enrollment and can be completed in as few as six weeks. Students can choose to take core classes, electives, languages, and even college credit class through this delivery method.

MU Online offers two high school diploma tracks, the general and the college prep. Students can take dual credit courses, earning high school and university credit through one course. All students are required, through the State of Missouri, to pass a test on the Missouri Constitution and the U.S. Constitution which is incorporated into the American Government or Civics courses. Other programs/initiatives include supplemental courses, textbook repurchase program, personal development and character education, career planning courses, and practical arts courses. Tuition is calculated on a per unit basis, dependent on course type (averaged below).

Accreditation: AdvancED, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI).
Cost: $$

7. Penn Foster High School

Penn-Foster-High-SchoolPenn Foster has been educating students for 120 years and now is the largest high school in the U.S., with over 40,000 students. Penn Foster offers a career-focused education that is affordable. More than 150 courses are provided that enable high school students to acquire core competencies, as well as college and career preparation. Courses integrate contemporary learning strategies and interactive media.

Extensive student support services, including an online library, provide for student needs and interests. The program is organized so that students take the same courses, at the same level, in the same order, except for electives. Traditional students and adult learners can both enroll in the high school diploma program on a year-round, rolling basis. Additional programs/initiatives available include the following: DANTES, veterans education benefits, Early College program, and a Career Services department. Tuition is calculated on a monthly basis.

Accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA), Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), and Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Cost: $

8. James Madison High School

James-Madison-High-schoolJames Madison High School, a part of Ashworth College, enrolls thousands of students each year. Courses are offered open enrollment and are self-paced. James Madison helps students pick up wherever they left off in their high school education, whether they need just a few classes or the whole high school diploma program.

James Madison strives to develop students in effective communication, critical thinking, professional and life skills, and qualifications for advancement. Students are assisted and encouraged by the student services staff, tutors, and certified teachers. Courses included web-based eBook supplemental materials, such as study guides, learning objectives, reading and practice assignments, teacher tips, and exam books. Students can pursue a general track or a college prep track high school diploma. Additional programs/initiatives offered are as follows: adult diploma completion programs, at-risk programming assistance, homeschooling courses, and summer school. Tuition was calculated based on a full program amount.

Accreditation: AdvancED, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), and Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC).
Cost: $

9. Mother of Divine Grace School

Mother-of-Divine-GraceMODG seeks to develop students to be active learners, effective communicators, independent thinkers, and multifaceted individuals. MODG pursues this goal through classical methodology consisting of interdisciplinary studies and courses that augment the stages of learning and promote an awareness of being a member of a universal, Catholic community.

MODG has a strong reputation for high academic standards and preparing students for college. College-bound coursework integrates religious study and classical academia, including Latin. An Alternative Course of Study is also provided that is still rich in religion and the classics. MODG also promotes the fine arts with courses in music, visual arts, and performing arts. MODG offers families three program types based on the level of independent learning desired: assisted, directed, and enhanced directed. Additional programs/initiatives offered include: supplemental course attendance, apprenticeships, homeschooling assistance, and teacher services/learning support. Tuition is calculated per academic year based on program desired.

Accrditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Cost: $$

10. University of Nebraska High School

University-of-Nebraska-High-SchoolThe mission of UNHS is to assist students in developing “skills, attitudes, and knowledge that will enable them to be thoughtful, committed and successful people in whatever calling they choose”. Students can pursue either a general studies or a college preparatory diploma track. Students at UNHS are able to transfer qualifying high school or home school credits, earn their diploma anytime of the year, and graduate early. The high school diploma program is offered to adult learners, as well as minors.

All diploma programs offer open enrollment, self-paced courses, and experienced, certified teachers. While courses are self-paced, students are required a five week minimum per course and assignments must be done in the order outlined and turned in one at a time. This allows instructors to give helpful feedback to assist in future lessons. Various course delivery formats, content levels, and instruction methods are made available as part of UNHS’s individualized study approach, which strives to meet the different learning styles of students. Students can access coursework, grades, and instructor feedback through WayCool, the UNHS course management system. Additional programs/initiatives include printed courses, placement tests, Online Worldwide, and AP and dual college credit courses. Tuition is calculated on a per credit basis, non-resident (Nebraska residents have a lower tuition rate).

Accreditation: AdvancED, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI).
Cost: $+

11. Liberty University High School

Liberty-University-Online-High-SchoolStudents at Liberty receive a customized learning plan that draws upon the variety of courses and formats offered for academic success. The “structured, yet flexible” program offers open enrollment, continuous access to curriculum and grades, and self-paced classes.

LUOA’s curriculum is taught from a biblical perspective with Christ-centered instruction. Certified teachers and trained staff offer oversight and encouragement and assist in administrative and technical matters. Online classes are interactive and engage students in the learning process. Electives include classes such as America’s Colonial Foundations, British Literature, Essentials of Business, Spanish, and State History. Students can pursue either a General Education or an Advanced Studies high school diploma. Additional programs/initiatives include Christian homeschooling, dual enrollment/EDGE courses, standardized testing, and part-time and supplemental courses. Tuition is calculated on a per credit basis.

Accreditation: AdvancED, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
Cost: $$+

12. National High School

National-High-SchoolCustomized educational plans, cutting edge technology, schedule flexibility, and self-paced courses allow National students to achieve peak academic performance. Through National’s Learn Center, students can access course syllabi, assignments, exams, and instructional guidelines, as well as interact with teachers and other students through dedicated chatrooms, email, and message boards. School administration offices can also be contacted through the Learning Center.

National’s curriculum offers a strong foundation and was developed internally with the assistance of SACS and the Georgia Department of Education. Courses were designed to promote strong critical thinking skills, analytical, and communicative skills. Additional programs/initiatives offered include credit recovery, advanced and remedial courses, home school integration, enrichment program and adult diploma completion. Tuition is calculated on a monthly basis.
Accreditation: AdvancED, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
Cost: $+

13. Laurel Springs School

Laurel-Springs-SchoolA personalized learning approach is the hallmark of Laurel Spring’s educational system. Students are given five learning assessments to discern their developmental stage, interests, talents, learning style, and strengths. Teachers, who are credentialed with advanced degrees, work as a team with parents to ensure a curriculum that matches the student. Laurel Springs provides one-on-one time with teachers, individually-graded assignments, and real-time events and clubs.

While two options are available for high school diplomas, both are considered College Prep tracks. Laurel Springs has developed programming that is particularly sensitive to and enriching of students that are gifted/talented, performers, or competitive athletes, such as their Personal Project Portfolios and integrating experiences. Teachers and counselors are engaged in each student’s pursuits. Additional programs/initiatives offered include college/career counseling, home schooling assistance, educational travel options, parent support groups, and summer school. Tuition is calculated on an all-inclusive academic year basis.

Accreditation: AdvancED, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Cost: $$+

14. Sevenstar Academy

Sevenstar-AcademyAcademically rigorous courses are designed to teach a Christian worldview and to develop critical thinking. Over 90 online classes are available, with an additional 100 dual credit courses from partner Christian colleges and universities. Christian teachers and academic coaches facilitate the curriculum progression and offer advice and support.

Because professional educators are skilled at motivating students, Sevenstars has achieved an 85% course completion rate. Sevenstar has supports in place to be of service to a variety of students and situations, including accelerated learners, struggling students, missionary families, military families, and homebound students. Students may pursue either a standard or an honors high school diploma. All students must complete 40 hours of volunteer service for each year of enrollment. Additional programs/initiatives offered are supplemental courses, homeschooling assistance, and international student support. Tuition is calculated on an academic year basis.

Accreditation: AdvancED and North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI).
Cost: $$+

15. New Learning Resource Online

New-Learning-Resource-OnlineNLRO works to assist students in obtaining their high school diploma, whether they are pursuing the full-time program, seeking credit recovery, or supplementing their home school’s course offerings. All students are treated equally and receive support and attention from the staff and faculty.

Students can pursue one of two high school diploma paths: college preparatory or career/vocational. Both contain the same high academic level core courses. The Career Pathway incorporates basic skills and knowledge with viable career preparation. Students are awarded a certificate of training completion in the vocational field they complete. Parents maintain the control of choosing between a variety of core course and elective options. Additional programs/initiatives offered are as follows: Job Corps Center, adult diploma completion program, homeschooling assistance, and student community forums. Tuition is calculated on a per course basis.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI) and Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC).
Cost: $+

16. Alpha Omega Academy

Alpha-Omega-AcademyAOA caters to thousands of students from over 40 countries, offering more than a hundred Christian courses. Students can pursue a general studies track or a college prep track high school diploma.

AOA offers two types of online classes to meet students’ different learning styles, Ignitia and Switched-On Schoolhouse, as well as print-based classes through LIFEPAC and Horizons. Students can interchange class types as desired. Teachers are readily available during online classes and set office hours. Students are able to socialize with each other through the virtual student center.

Accreditation: AdvanceED and North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI).
Cost: Undisclosed, “Tailor-Fit.”

17. CompuHigh Online High School

CompuHigh-SchoolGoing also by the name Whitmore School, CompuHigh has been on the forefront of online high school education, offering online classes since 1994. Students can pursue either a general studies or college prep high school diploma. Online courses are easy to understand and use a conversational tone, which can be sampled on the school’s website.

While the regular diploma program mainly depends on parents and the student to navigate the coursework and progress, CompuHigh offers a Diploma PLUS Program that offers more institutional support, planning, and progress evaluation. Supplemental programs/initiatives offered include Adult degree completion, “life experience” credit, summer school, demo courses, and virtual graduation. Tuition is calculated by academic year and is dependent on diploma program.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), and Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation (CITA).
Cost: $ (regular), $+ (Plus Program).

18. Texas Tech University Independent School District

Texas-Tech-IndependentAs an alternative to a traditional campus-based school, TTUISD offers flexible educational opportunities and awards a Texas high school diploma. TTUISD has graduated over 2,600 students from 58 countries. This program offers a quality educational platform, incorporating sophisticated instructional techniques, management, and technology, and extending to learners regardless of age, location, or physical limitations. The curriculum is designed to incorporate different learning styles, include application activities, and emphasize higher-level thinking skills.

Students can typically average completing one course in a two-month period (30 day minimum), amounting to 6-8 courses per year, which can lead to an accelerated graduation time. It is encouraged that students stay enrolled in at least four to six courses at all times. Students can pursue either the Foundation Plan or the Endorsement Plan for a high school diploma. Students must pass certain state-required assessments in order to graduate. Additional programs/initiatives offered are as follows: Summer Academic Camp, print courses, credit by examination, and dual college credit courses. Tuition is calculated on a per course basis, online program.

Accreditation: Texas Education Agency as an independent school district.
Cost: $+

19. Orange Lutheran Online High School

Orange-Lutheran-High-SchoolOrange Lutheran Online (OLO) is committed to offering the exceptional academic structure and teaching methods of its on-campus program to its online students. Christian character development is important at OLO and all students are required to complete 20 hours of community service annually and take theology classes.

Fulltime students at OLO take three to four courses at a time for an 8-week semester (half of a term). Therefore, students could finish a yearlong course in 16 weeks, which spans a term. OLO offers two terms, plus a summer session (half of a term). Orange Lutheran instructors develop the courses and meet together weekly to address student needs. OLO maintains a web portal, myOLu, where students can track grades, get assignments, and access relevant information. Additional programs/initiatives available are as follows: supplemental courses, a Blended option, AP courses, and STEM program. Tuition is calculated on an annual basis, using the Lutheran Non-Association amounts (Association tuition is lower).

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Cost: $$$$

20. International Connections Academy

Connections-AcademyIndividualized instruction at iNaCA is supported by a multi-dimensional curriculum, hundreds of K–12 courses, trained, certified teachers, and an experienced educational management system. iNaCA’s parent company, Connections Education LLC, has established 25 successful virtual public schools in 23 states.

Full-time students receive a Personalized Performance Learning plan, a comprehensive plan based on individual strengths and needs, designed to challenge and motivate students. Certified teachers and licensed counselors work with students to evaluate their progress and help them reach their goals. Students can pursue one of three high school diploma programs: Minimum, Recommended, and Distinguished. Additional programs/initiatives available include the following: school community for social development, clubs and activities, learning coaches for parents, 50+ Honors and AP courses, and college acceleration programs. Tuition is calculated on an academic year.

Accreditation: AdvancED, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA), Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), and Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC).
Cost: $$$$

21. Keystone National High School

The-Keystone-SchoolKeystone has been offering correspondence and remedial study since 1974, and continues to offer its correspondence program along with its online high school diploma program. Keystone students receive the advantage of interactive lessons, one-on-one teacher consultation, a resource library, and technical support.

Students can pursue either a college prep track, with Advanced Placement courses, or a career track high school diploma. Courses are self-paced and students can accelerate the time needed to graduate. Keystone allows students up to a year to complete each course. Additional programs/initiatives offered include supplemental courses, extracurricular clubs, and college and career counseling. Tuition is calculated based on an academic year.

Accreditation: Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC) and Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC).
Cost: $$

22. Advantages School International

Advantages-School-InternationalAdvantages offers over 400 courses, including advanced placement, honors, and world languages courses. Advantages School specializes in working with international students, including expat citizens and students residing or travelling outside of the USA.

Licensed teachers and advisors support students in obtaining their educational goals. Students can pursue a general studies or a college prep high school diploma. ASI administers the following programs in addition to the online high school diploma program: independent supplementary courses, credit recovery, adult learners, and summer school. Tuition is calculated on a yearly basis and includes unlimited enrollment in courses.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI).
Cost: $$+

23. Greenways Academy

Greenways-AcademyGreenways Academy promotes continual improvement and staying on the cutting edge of educational methods. The school holds a fantastic completion rate of 100% of their students complete their courses on time. Access to teachers, superior network quality, counseling support, and multi-sensory course materials assist in subject comprehension and increased confidence.

Class customization through a Learning Styles Profile allows teachers to meld a learning plan to fit each student’s needs. Additional programs/initiatives offered are IEP and 504 Plan modifications, parental monitoring codes, tutoring service, and over 200 vocational courses. Tuition is calculated on an academic year or by credits.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) and Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation (CITA).
Cost: $$+

24. The University of Mississippi Independent Study High School

Ole-Miss-Independent-Study-High-SchoolUM-ISHS offers comprehensive high school academic services, whether used to supplement other high school courses, to allow adults to complete their diploma, or to serve as a high school for students to pursue a diploma full-time. Courses are available to meet a wide variety of learners, including the following: low-enrollment courses, interest-specific electives, college-remedial courses, courses for special needs students, and advanced level courses.

UM-ISHS employs certified teachers, who provide students with instruction, fast responses to inquiries and assignments, and one-on-one attention. Although students may enroll in courses as they want, instructors are available to assist students in the creation of individualized pacing guide. Blackboard is utilized for students and teachers to submit and return assignments. Additional programs/initiatives offered include a free credit advisory course, print-based courses, and academic advising. Tuition is calculated on a per course basis.

Accreditation: AdvancED and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
Cost: $$

25. Clonlara School

Clonlara-SchoolFounded as a school in 1967, Clonlara’s Home Based Education Program began educating students around the world in 1979. Clonlara is a non-profit institution that has educated over 40,000 students. For each student at Clonlara, a personalized educational path, based on goals, strengths, and interests, is developed by a school advisor or teacher, the parent or mentor, and the student. For this reason, the school does not distinguished between high school diplomas.

The student and their parent/mentor evaluate progress, with advisors assisting on content and learning approaches, educational materials, and resources. Additional programs/initiatives offered include college planning support, Clonlara Commons, home based education program, and supplemental course enrollment. Tuition is based on an academic year.

Accreditation: AdvancED, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), and Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA CESS).
Cost: $$$+

The 50 Best Online High School Diplomas Part-2

26. University of Texas High School

University-of-Texas-High-SchoolStudents at UT High School can pursue academic success in a high school diploma program through this state-approved educational alternative. These programs cater to a variety of students, including students that are homeschooled, are in remote locations, and have professional careers. Other reasons students choose UT High School are to accelerate their education and to have more independence in academic choices. All students receive monthly progress reports prepared by the academic counselor, which helps make sure students are staying on track.

In addition to over 50 online high school courses, students can access dual college credit courses. High school courses through ASKME offer multimedia activities, virtual manipulatives, concrete models, self-assessment tools, and instruction by a certified teacher. There is a state-mandated exit-level assessment that must be passed in order to graduate. Additional programs/initiatives available include state-issued college tuition credits, AP courses, credit by exams, and supplement courses. Tuition is calculated on a per course basis.

Accreditation: Texas Education Agency, independent school district.
Cost: $$

27. Smart Horizons Career Online High School

Smart-Horizons-Career-Online-High-SchoolSome of the tools used at Smart Horizons to facilitate academic achievement are instant feedback on lessons and exams, a Gradebook and Pace Guide, an eLibrary with learning resources, and academic support services. Academic coaches and qualified, certified instructors are available to students for questions and advice.

Students work towards becoming certified in a chosen career area in addition to receiving their high school diploma. They attend seminars and prepare necessary work documents, like resumes and cover letters. The certified career tracks include child care and education, protection officer, transportation services, and office management. Additional programs/initiatives available are as follows: Career Portfolio, supplemental courses, open enrollment, and real life experience elective credits. Tuition is calculated on a program basis.

Accreditation: AdvancED and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
Cost: $

28. The Oaks Private School (TOPS Online)

The-Oaks-Private-SchoolStudents are considered for admissiom to TOPS Online who are willing to set personal and academic goals, to establish study habits and schedules, and to take classes in religious studies. TOPS promotes high quality educational materials grounded in Christian values and beliefs. Instructors take an active role in the education process, including hand-grading to examine the student’s thought process.

Because students can take up to eight courses a year, they can accelerate the time needed to graduate. Students can pursue one of three types of high school diplomas: standard, college prep, or honors college prep. Additional programs/initiatives available are dual enrollment college courses, “My Personal High School Plan”, and career/vocational courses. Tuition is calculated on an academic year basis.

Accreditation: AdvancED, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), and Florida Commission of Christian Private Schools Accreditation (FCCPSA).
Cost: $$

29. George Washington University Online High School

George-Washington-University-Online-High-SchoolGWUOHS provides a personalized educational experience that focuses on student success in high school and beyond. Courses are provided online through a partnership with K12, a world leader in curriculum development, and are engaging and sequenced and evaluated for content mastery. This partnership results in a rigorous, high-quality education with emphasis on theory and practice and integrity.

Students pursue a college preparatory high school diploma. Faculty and staff at GWUOHS strive to know each student well and serve as champions in their development, both intellectually and socially. The school promotes student-wide community activities. Students attend live, teacher-led classes, where meaningful discussion and engagement are promoted. Students are encouraged to take Advanced Placement classes through initiatives, such as Summer AP boot camp, an AP Coordinator, and an assigned faculty AP Mentor. Additional programs/initiatives include college planning and preparation, 1:1 Orientation, Peer Mentoring, dual college credit courses, and student interest clubs and activities. Tuition is calculated on an academic year basis.

Accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA CESS).
Cost: $$$$+

30. Excel High School

Excel-High-SchoolExcel High School offers high school diploma programs for school-aged and adult students, as well as single course independent study. There are two programs available online for adult students, one preparing students to secure a high school equivalency certificate and the other to obtain a high school diploma.

School-aged students can pursue either a General Studies or a College Prep high school diploma. Online core and elective courses are always accessible and are self-paced. Rigorous courses, at every level, have built-in assessments to ensure concept mastery of all lessons. Excel also maintains Excel College, where students can take college courses in business and general studies. Additional programs/ initiatives offered include the following: make-up credits, PSEO, common core and state standards, drop-out prevention program, and comprehensive planning tools. Tuition varies across programs, but all fall into the lowest category.

Accreditation: AdvancED and North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI).
Cost: $

31. WiloStar3D Academy

WiloStar3D-AcademyWith the use of a 3D virtual world, WiloStar3D Academy is a safe, interactive 3D campus environment. Students create their own academic objects, like books and pencils, and customize their school desk, which enhances creative thinking and fosters student engagement.

WiloStar3D caters to different learning styles through an active learning approach, encouraging problem-solving skills, reading comprehension, and group projects. The school promotes parent intercommunication, student support, and proven evaluation methods. A strong curriculum, live online class meetings, and certified teachers support collaborative thinking and innovative learning. In order to graduate, students must attend at least one academic year and complete an individual senior project. Tuition is based on an academic year.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
Cost: $$

32. Stanford University Online High School

Stanford-Online-High-SchoolStanford University Online High School (OHS) offers a high school program that is stimulating and challenging for gifted students. OHS demands “passion” from their students, who will have to perform at their highest potential, and from their instructors who will challenge and lead students to communicate proficiently, master the principles of analytical reasoning and critical argumentation, and to be intellectually mature and responsible.

Through the course content, instruction methods, media enhancements, and scope and sequence of curriculum, OHS challenges and inspires students toward exceptional academic achievement. A strong support community works with students to achieve academic and personal goals. OHS strives to cultivate lasting relationships among students and instructors through collaborative projects and extra-curricular activities. Courses are maintained on a college-style class schedule and offered in seminar-style and directed-study instruction. All students pursue the Core Sequence, where course content develops toward post-AP and university levels and embodies professional methods and intellectual habits for each discipline. Additional programs/initiatives include the residential summer program, critical reading and argumentation, orientation sessions, and academic counseling. Tuition is calculated on an academic year basis.

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Cost: $$$$+

33. Franklin Virtual High School

Franklin-Virtual-High-SchoolFVHS sustains a student-paced online, interactive high school diploma program, including test preparation and vocational specific electives. Coursework can be pursued full-time or part-time.

FVHS offers a streamlined Adult High School Diploma track that helps students graduate in the shortest amount of time, while meeting educational requirements and containing costs. Programs/initiatives available include a career focused education, college prep program, home schooling assistance, credit recovery, SAT/ACT test preparation, and summer school. Tuition is calculated monthly for most programs.

Accreditation: AdvancED and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
Cost: $+

34. Liahona Preparatory Academy

Liahona-AcademyLiahona offers a distance education based on its campus program. In fact, students attend live classes daily, interacting with teachers and students, over a 32-weeks period. Classes are also filmed and can be viewed anytime to offer flexibility in scheduling. Classes are divided into a four year rotation and provide a strong academic base, integrating Latter-day Saint gospel principles and patriotism.

Students can get what they need to transfer in or recover credits by using the Fast Track Courses or supplementing with off campus courses. The school also offers a safe place for students to develop relationships with each other and introductions can be made on the “Warrior Wall”. “The Scoop” offers daily class overviews, supplemental materials, tests, and quizzes. Additional programs/initiatives offered include the following: interest clubs and activities, Youth Conference, service trips, graduation ceremonies, and supplemental courses. Tuition is calculated on a per course, monthly basis.

Accreditation: AdvancED and North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
Cost: $$+

35. International Virtual Learning Academy

International-Virtual-Learning-AcademyIVLA fosters individual learning styles by offering six full online curriculums, each presenting coursework in a different way. They also offer curriculums that specialize in particular type of content, such as full Christian curriculum, full honors and AP courses, Rosetta Stone language courses, and extensive Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses. However, in the case of full curriculums, students can only pursue one.

Students are assigned an advisor who supports them by tracking progress, giving personalized attention, and helping with any problems that obstruct progress. Additional programs/initiatives include adult diploma completion programs, literacy assistance, English language learners, and summer school. Tuition is calculated per academic year according to curricula program chosen (averaged below).

Accreditation: AdvancED and Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC).
Cost: $$

36. American High School

American-High-SchoolAmerican HS has enrolled over 8,000 students since it began offering classes in 2004. With a goal to prepare students for success after high school, the high school diploma program provides a full range of courses from technical to advanced academic. The wide selection of electives includes such courses as Game Design & Programming, Criminal Justice, Health Services, and Business.

Instructors at American HS are certified and experienced, with advanced degrees and/or credentials, and are committed to being easily accessible. Special initiatives/programs offered include the following: SAT/ACT test preparation, tutoring, advising system, advanced and remedial classes, and summer school.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), and Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation (CITA).
Cost: $$

37. Grigg’s International Academy

Griggs-International-AcademyGIA is a global educational institution maintained by Seventh-day Adventists. GIA students can pursue either a college preparatory or a standard high school diploma online. Diploma programs promote community service through requirement. GIA also offers web-supported/paper-based programs if desired.

Online instruction provides accessible teacher communication, quick lessons turnaround, and broadened educational experiences. GIA’s high school diploma program is organized into daily instruction and assignments and relies on a parent and teacher partnership. Tuition is based on an academic year.

Accreditation: AdvancED, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA), and Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC).
Cost: $$

38. K-12 International Academy

K12-International-AcademyK-12 encourages students to master core knowledge, contribute to the community, embrace diversity, pursue academic and extracurricular interests and reach their potential. K-12 has a strong international presence offers a U.S. high school diploma to students around the world.

Full-time students of K-12 receive a range of benefits including course materials, teacher support, orientation and on-boarding, academic coaching, access to Family Connection, and college and career planning. K-12 offers a “360-degree solution” through trained educators, a social learning environment, and an Individual Learning Plan. Parents are encouraged in their role as an active educator through an extensive parent network and staff support. Additional programs/initiatives offered include the following: SAT/ACT prep, DIBELS screening, Study Island, dual-credit courses, and student clubs and activities. Tuition is calculated on an academic year basis.

Accreditation: AdvancED, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), and Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA CESS).
Cost: $$$$+

39. North Dakota Center for Distance Education

North-Dakota-Center-for-Distance-LearningNDCDE is a non-profit school that has been providing global education since 1935. Through its vast experience it can coordinate with a variety of educational arrangements, such as homeschooling and supplemental course rendering. NDCDE employs full-time licensed instructors, offers more than 260 courses, maintains flexible, self-paced classes, and promotes direct access to teachers and tutors.

Students are encouraged to pursue the recommended curriculum for college-bound students, which still allows for choice of electives. Additional programs/initiatives offered include credit recovery, printed courses, and optional high school curriculum. Tuition is calculated on a per credit basis for a non-resident of North Dakota (ND residents are offered a lower tuition rate).

Accreditation: AdvancED, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
Cost: $$

40. Calvary Online School

Calvary-Online-SchoolCalvary delivers a Christian school curriculum that is student-paced, technologically advanced, and content rich. Blended model instruction incorporates independent study with live, interactive teacher support. Qualified teachers collect and go over assignments, answer questions, and grade and give feedback.

Calvary offers two distinct high school programs, online school and independent study. While both offer the same rigorous college prep courses, the online school encompasses a multitude of support services that the other doesn’t. Both programs require set attendance and assignment deadlines. Tuition is calculated on an annual basis, dependent on program (group and minister family discounts are available)

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Cost: $$-$$$

41. Hadley School for the Blind

Hadley-School-for-the-BlindThe Hadley School offers an online high school diploma program free-of-charge for people who are legally, progressively or functionally, visually impaired. Students can earn a diploma at Hadley’s High School or transfer earned credits to other institutions to complete a degree program.

The diploma program is open to students from 14 years old through adulthood, who are able to read course materials. Blindness-specific and accessible media courses are also offered. The diploma program offers a wide selection of career/vocational courses as well. Instructors are readily available to assist with course content. Students can check their grades and course records online through OASIS.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI) and Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC).
Cost: None

42. Halstrom Academy

Halstrom-AcademyHalstrom has educated 16,000 students since its founding in 1985. Because Halstrom believes that teaching to the unique needs of a student leads to significant increases in positive outcomes, they maintain a tested one-to-one learning model. Students and teachers work together in a mentor relationship where skills, interests, needs, and progress can easily be discerned.

Classes are offered in focused interaction sessions of 45 minutes and are focused on content mastery. Students can choose their class times, how many classes to take, their teachers, projects to work on, and personal and educational goals. Students are offered rigorous college prep courses that are taught through 15-17 weekly class sessions. Additional programs/initiatives offered are supplemental courses, homeschooling assistance, UC/CSU dual credit courses, and online seminar classes. Tuition is calculated on an academic year basis.

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Cost: $$$$+

43. University of Miami Global Academy

University-of-Miami-Global-AcademyUM Global Academy offers a variety of programs, including the full-time high school diploma program, which are high quality, student-centered, and flexible. The curriculum supports classes that develop curiosity, critical thinking skills, leadership potential, and character. Courses are broken down into completion time periods, such as 20-weeks, and have to be completed in consecutive weeks.

Students pursue either the High School Scholar or the High School Extreme Scholar diploma programs. The Student Service Learning experience is considered important to character formation. Through this Student Service Learning experience, students are guided in connecting classroom instruction with projects that are beneficial to their local communities. This is considered an important component of character-building. UM Global Academy fosters global learning experiences, where students interact and complete projects with their international peers. Additional programs/initiatives offered are as follows: iESOL Program, remedial courses, flexible summer session, and an online newspaper. Tuition is calculated on a per credit basis.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
Cost: $$$$

44. The American Academy

The-American-AcademyThe American Academy offers open enrollment with weekly class starts, licensed instructors, and over 100 self-paced courses. High school diploma programs are available for both college and career seeking students, as well as the ability to design a custom program. Licensed teachers monitor progress, grade assignments, and are available during office hours.

The American Academy has an “innovative program for dropout recovery and prevention.” Additional programs/initiatives include the following: make-up credits, summer school, adult graduation completion programs, and homeschooling support. Tuition is calculated on a per credit basis.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) and Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC).
Cost: $+

45. Oak Meadow School

Oak-Meadow-SchoolThe progressive online curriculum at Oak Meadow School contains everything needed for a full school year, divided into weekly lessons. This program provides a challenging academic education for independent learners through engaging courses and creative projects, while allowing flexibility to pursue and explore interests and talents. All students are required to complete and advanced study project.

Teachers supply one-on-one support, grading, and full narrative evaluations. Families can choose to continue working with a particular teacher over the course of several grades. Additional programs/initiatives offered include college counseling, dual enrollment, AP & technical courses through Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, travel and summer programs, and life experience elective credit. Tuition is calculated on a per course basis.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
Cost: $$$+

46. The Ogburn School

The-Ogburn-SchoolIndividualized curriculums, self-paced courses, and open enrollment allow students of The Ogburn School to design a program that meets their needs. Students receive teacher support, grading services and academic counseling. Honors courses and vocational electives are available.

Students can pursue courses or a certification program through The Ogburn School’s Academy of Environmental Studies. This academy was established for students to explore their interest in the environment through the study of conservation philosophy and methodology, including sustainable communities. A high school diploma with a concentration in Environmental Studies is awarded upon completion. Additional programs/initiatives include the following: homeschooling assistance, adult diploma completion, and summer school. Tuition can be calculated on an academic year or credit hour basis.

Accreditation: AdvancED and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
Cost: $$

47. Park City Independent

Park-City-IndependentPark City welcomes all qualifying high school students to pursue a diploma whether they are high-school aged or adults. They also welcome students who wish to supplement their education at another institution. The certified instructors and professional academic staff help students create a tailored graduation plan and support their progress towards a high school diploma.

Curriculum is always accessible through the virtual classroom, which allows for a flexible, self-paced educational delivery. The general high school curriculum includes coursework in Applied Technologies, such as computer science, business/career, and consumer science. The college prep curriculum includes additional courses in foreign languages. Additional programs/initiatives offered are credit recovery, supplemental courses, and summer school.

Accreditation: Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC).
Cost: Undisclosed

48. National University Virtual High School

National-University-Virtual-High-SchoolAt NUVHS, students have the opportunity for top quality academic achievement by engaging in an active, cooperative online learning environment. Students can drive their education and can even complete a semester course (.5 unit) in as few as four weeks or they can choose to pace themselves over as many as 16 weeks.

While distinct high school diploma options are not awarded, students are encouraged to pursue a college preparatory track, taking advantage of the advanced and AP courses offered. Additional programs/initiatives offered are dual credit through the UC system, Guided Study, and dual credit through the National University. Tuition is calculated on a per course basis.

Accreditation: AdvancED, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Cost: $$+

49. Blueprint Academy

Blueprint-Academylueprint offers a self-paced, open enrollment online high school diploma programming. Students can pursue either a standard or a college prep diploma option. Over one hundred interactive online courses are available, including Honors and 33 electives.

The self-paced component allows students to work on one class at a time or up to the maximum four classes at a time and does not require weekly work submissions. Additional programs/initiatives administered by Blueprint Education include accelerated graduation, adult diploma program, and therapeutic, hands-on programs. Tuition is calculated on a per course basis.

Accreditation: AdvancED, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
Cost: $+

50. Brigham Young University Independent Study High School Program

BYU-High-SchoolA full high school education experience is available at BYU University Independent Study. Students can pursue one of three different programs: the Standard Program, the Advanced Program, or the Adult Diploma Program. The Standard and Advanced Programs do not issue diplomas. In these programs, students will receive an official transcript that denotes high school completion. All three programs are four-year programs, although they do allow students to transfer into the programs.

Students in the Adult Diploma Program receive a degree through the Provo (Utah) School District. Once a student is accepted into a program, they will receive a student progress report (SPR), which shows all transfer credits and lists credits needed to complete the program. BYU Independent Study HSP offers more than 550 online courses, which are secular in nature. Students may choose teacher-led courses, which offer one-on-one mentoring, a course orientation, and a weekly live, teacher-led class. Additional programs/initiatives available are as follows: recovery credits, supplemental courses, traditional paper courses, SAT/ACT preparation, and dual college credit courses through BYU. Tuition is calculated on a per credit basis, dependent on course type (averaged below).

Earning a Special Education Credential Online

Special education was originally a classroom full of kids who for one reason or another, couldn’t learn at the pace of their original classmates, or who had behavioral problems.  Today there are several categories of special education and in most states, licenses to match those categories.  That means special education teachers face an additional educational component for licensure and when they obtain it, will most likely be paid at a higher scale than regular classroom teachers.

The options for obtaining special education licensure are usually the traditional educational institutions because of the requirement for supervised classroom work that is a feature of any teacher education program.  However there are a few schools with online programs that are accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) or by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Categories for Special Education Students

The education community and the organization of school psychologists have assembled a list of impairments that require special education.  Those include impaired hearing, impaired vision, emotional disability, developmental delay, autism, mental retardation, orthopedic impairment, speech impairment, traumatic brain injury, and a category for “other” health impairments.  Then there are the specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia that are not the result of any physical condition or injury.

Online Programs at Traditional Universities

The University of North Carolina offers several online programs for licensed teachers.  The East Carolina campus has a master’s program for licensed teachers that leads to a MAEd with emphasis on one of the following: mental retardation, emotional/behavioral disabilities, learning disabilities, or low-incidence disabilities.  The Chapel Hill campus has a MAT program with general training in special education for students with mild disabilities. The Western Carolina campus offers an online MAEd with three tracks: mild disabilities, severe disabilities, and gifted children.

The University of Massachusetts Online (UMassOnline) has several special education options.  There is a Master of Education in special education for children with impaired vision, and a MEd in vision rehabilitation.  A MEd in Curriculum & Instruction is available with emphasis on children with autism.  There is also a certificate program for Behavioral Intervention with Autistic Students.

A Mixture of Specialized Degrees and Certificates

The University of North Texas and the University of Minnesota/Mankato both have graduate certificate programs in special education.  Florida State University offers the Master of Science in Special Education with specialization in severe disabilities (autism and severe cognitive disability), early childhood special education (birth through age 5 years), and high incidence disabilities.  The University of Kentucky and Gonzaga University both have online graduate degrees in special education.  The University of Missouri/Columbia offers a MEd in Mental Health Practices in Schools, designed for both teachers and administrators.

Most of these programs are designed to meet teacher licensing requirements in the state where the campus is located; however there is a license reciprocity agreement for teachers with at least 33 states as participants.  There are a few exclusively online schools with accredited special education programs; the first to achieve NCATE recognition is Western Governors University, which also offers several K-12 teaching degrees that meet licensure standards.

If you are a licensed teacher wishing to break into special education there are several viable online programs available to you.  There are also MAT programs in special education for individuals who are not licensed teachers but are interested in making a career change into education.  Special education has become a respected and well paid educational niche that requires extra education, which is increasingly available to teachers who would like to go back to school and continue working.

Three Reasons to Homeschool High School

Homeschooled students are often placed back in school at the high school level. While it is possible that placing a homeschooled student back in traditional school for high school will be advantageous, there are distinct advantages to keeping the student home and homeschooling high school.

Time Management

By the time a homeschooled student has reached the high school level he is generally had to learn how to manage his schedule to complete assignments in a timely manner. Time management is a real world skill, and one that will be useful in any future endeavor whether that is college or the work place.

Why would a homeschooled high school student have more of a chance to learn time management skills than a traditionally schooled student? Primarily because the traditionally schooled student is not allowed to manage their own time, but most homeschooling parents encourage students to take responsibility for their own schedules. Traditionally educated students are told when to change classes, when assignments are due, and are held to a schedule that is designed to fit the majority of students. A homeschooled high school student is not dependent on the schedules or abilities of others.

Part of the benefit of homeschooling, especially in high school, is that the education is customizable. If a student needs a little longer to master an advanced math skill it is possible to adapt the homeschool schedule to accommodate that. If the student finishes a literature assignment early, the student can move on and it is not necessary for him to wait until all the other students in the classroom have completed the assignment.


Homeschooled students who have reached the high school stage have generally achieved some level of independence. By placing a formerly homeschooled student back in the traditional high school setting some measure of the independence the student is accustomed to is removed. As with time management, the student’s schedule is no longer their own when they must adhere to the schedule of others.

High school level homeschooled students often have more input into their education, not just in what they want to learn but also how they will learn it. Homeschooled students will have the ability to determine how long they will work on a particular subject. An example of this is science experiments. In traditional school it does not matter if an experiment is completed in the 50 minutes allotted, when the bell rings, the student needs to move on to a different class. In homeschooled high school the student would continue the experiment to completion, not interrupted by the end of a class period.


A third benefit to the homeschooled high school student is somewhat related to the time management and independence benefits of homeschooling. Most traditional schools must teach to the masses. That is their purpose and with the reductions of funds, most schools do not have the ability to allow students to accelerate to a higher grade, or specialize in a certain subject.

Homeschooling, with its inherent flexibility and individualization can accommodate both. Some homeschooled high school students take dual credit, which is a way to gain not only high school credit but also college credit for courses.

Other homeschooled high school students find that they can finish academic classes more quickly, and therefore can spend more time practicing a specialty. This would allow a student who was a musician more time to practice her musical instrument, or a student who excels in dance or gymnastics to complete schoolwork around necessary practices and coaches schedule.

Some might worry that homeschooled high school students might be isolated from the socialization available through traditional education. The reality is that socialization is about teaching the students the things they will need to know to be functioning adults in the world they are about to step into after graduation. Homeschooling high school is a great way to foster real world skills such as time management and independence. By allowing homeschooled high school students to excel in one area, or accelerate their entire high school education, we are encouraging the real world skills of management and independence that will make them sought after by colleges and employers alike.

Homeschool vs. School-at-Home

Most people believe that if your child does not go to public or private school that they are being homeschooled. Maybe or maybe not. That depends on who you ask and what definition of homeschooling you follow.


School-at-home is generally considered at school curriculum administered at home. Sources of the curriculum might be the public school system, private school system, or an independent full curriculum distance school.

The pros of school-at-home are numerous but let’s choose two pros that are particularly interesting to people who never thought they would homeschool.

The first pro is that the entire curriculum is administered by a school, whether it is a local school or a distance learning school. This means that they generally interface with your state’s department of education to make sure that you are educating at home legally. Sometimes the local or distance school will also have accreditation. What this used to mean is that your child’s diploma would hold the same weight as a private or public school diploma but that is not exactly the case anymore. I will tell you a bit more about that shortly.

The second major pro of school-at-home is the idea that everything, the entire curriculum comes as a package. The parent does not need to collect various materials from different places. The curriculum is standardized and every student enrolled in this type of education will get the same instructional materials.

The pro of the entire curriculum coming in a package can also be one of the cons of this type of school-at-home. By having a standardized curriculum the parent is not given the option of allowing the student to study any one subject more in depth than any other. The student is expected to complete work at a pre-determined pace, and there is little flexibility to allow for a student’s individual learning style.

This is actually the point where the contrast between school-at-home and homeschool are most notable.


Homeschooling can differ greatly from school-at-home, but it can also resemble school-at home.

One of the most important hallmarks of true homeschooling is flexibility. When a parent chooses to homeschool they are choosing to take control over their child’s education and also ultimate responsibility. What this means is that parents choose what their children study, in what order, and what depth. This allows not only for student interests but also the student’s learning style. There are many sources to choose from when choosing homeschool curricula and it is possible to pick different subjects from the source that best fits your child’s learning style.

A second important aspect of homeschooling is the idea that the parent is in control of timing and schedule. In most states this means that parents choose when and if to have their children submit to standardized tests. Being in control of the family’s schedule can be very important, especially if there is any aspect of the family’s schedule is variable. One particular example might be children in military families. Deployments do not occur according to school schedules. Having the schedule flexibility to take a break when the military parent returns is of great benefit.

It was mentioned earlier that school-at-home often provided accredited diplomas for high school graduates. Recently, many states have passed rulings that allow diplomas from any homeschool to hold the same weight as other schools. This is good news for families who educate at home.

Which is better?

So which one is better, school-at-home or homeschool? Well, that would depend on you, as the parent, and your child’s needs. Some students need a lot of structure, and need to move at a pre-determined rate. Other students need to move at their own pace, faster in some subjects, slower in others. There are positives and negatives to both methods of educating children at home. Consider which might work best for your family if you are considering home education.

Keeping Records For Your Homeschool High School

Even the most well-intentioned homeschool parent sometimes falls behind on their homeschool record keeping, so if you find yourself in that situation, you’re in good company! Recently I talked to a friend who needed a transcript right away (in a day), but had nothing put together! She hadn’t thought she would need one, but her son suddenly decided that he wanted to enlist in the Navy, and they required him to submit a transcript! What a rotten situation to be in!

Another friend needed some help with her homeschool records, because she couldn’t quite remember what they had done over the years. She opened up her folder where she kept her homeschool records, and—there was nothing in there! She had labeled a few things, but had not kept any papers, records of curriculum, or anything! We looked through her tub of homeschool papers and paraphernalia, and tried to piece together some courses and a transcript. We spent hours going over every aspect of her homeschool, and documented all the courses her children had taken. As I was leaving, I asked her what the family’s plans for the weekend were. She replied that they were going to a Latin competition…but she had never mentioned that they had taken Latin!  There wasn’t anything in her binder or her tub that talked about Latin!

No matter how great a homeschool teacher you are, if you don’t keep high school records, you won’t be able to come up with a high school transcript, and in all likelihood, you will need one at some point in your child’s life. That doesn’t mean that you have to keep strict records and spend copious hours writing everything down. Even if you take time once a year to record what happened that year, sort of like I do with my taxes, you’ll be able to create a successful transcript. If my friend above had made a transcript every year, she would never have forgotten something as significant as four years of Latin!

Make sure that you set aside time each year, and preferably more frequently than that, to record what you’ve done in your homeschool. Set aside copies of the papers your children have done, some of their tests, pictures of what they did, and books or curriculum they used. You can take pictures of curriculum instead of storing the actual books themselves, and for anything that’s too big to store, pictures also work well. Look at your calendar to remind you of the activities you spent time on, and look at your checkbook to see where you spent your money. Ask your kids to look over the list, to see if they remember anything that you’ve forgotten.  Homeschool records don’t just create themselves; you must be diligent to record what you’ve done! The payoff will come when you apply for college admission and scholarships, and can show the schools all the great stuff your child was involved in, and how well they excelled. Colleges love kids who are involved in unusual or unique activities, so make sure that your child’s individual interests and passions shine through on their transcript!

What You Need To Know About High School Transcripts For Homeschoolers

While the path home schoolers follow through high school may be very similar or radically different than their public school counterparts, all applicants are in much the same boat when it comes to college admissions. The big challenge, of course, is how to impress an admissions officer enough to receive an acceptance letter from the student’s school of choice. But a homeschooler without a GPA, class ranking, or high school transcript poses a unique challenge to any admissions office.

Many colleges and universities these days are notably more flexible than in the past about evaluating homeschooled applicants. Some accept portfolios of student work in lieu of the usual requirements, but a list of high school coursework, in one form or another, is usually necessary. That is where a transcript comes into play, a written record of the grades received or aptitude achieved in each course or area of study.

High school transcripts prove useful for more than college admission. They’re used for enlisting in the military, applying for jobs and internships, and even earning the “good student” discount for a family’s auto insurance rates. It’s also useful to have a transcript for the many scholarship applications that require one.

The most common need for a transcript is college admission. But admissions policies vary widely, so when a homeschooler narrows down their list of potential colleges, it’s smart to call and ask those schools directly what they’re looking for. At one end of the spectrum, Harvard doesn’t require transcripts at all, and at the other end, some colleges want high school transcripts to be aligned to state standards set by their Department of Education. Most schools will fall somewhere in between, and it’s up to the applicant to find out where.

For example, Wesleyan College in Connecticut has admitted homeschoolers with simply a portfolio of the student’s high school work, but they prefer a transcript, and the more detailed the better. Ohio State University does require an official transcript, and Southern Methodist University not only requires a transcript but also makes homeschoolers take several exams that are not mandated for other applicants. Each school has a different set of requirements, which are easily ascertained by contacting the admissions office.

Some schools will accept a spreadsheet format, easily compiled on a home computer. Others want courses listed by semester, or perhaps including course descriptions so they know exactly what material was covered. There are both fee-based services and free downloadable templates available online designed to make the chore of writing a transcript easier, but keep in mind there is no “one size fits all” approach, and each college could require something different.

As homeschooling continues to gain popularity, homeschoolers will increasingly compete with traditional students for a limited number of college openings. Considered together with many other criteria, such as SAT or ACT scores and extracurricular activities, high school transcripts serve an important role that homeschoolers cannot ignore. College bound homeschoolers should keep detailed records beginning by 9th grade, and be ready to translate those records into whatever format needed to compete with the ever-changing college admissions process.

Homeschool High School

Many parents homeschool elementary and middle school but become nervous when the time comes to homeschool high school.

There are many reasons that homeschool parents look for another choice besides traditional homeschooling when it comes to high school. Let’s look at some of those reasons, and explore how homeschool parents can continue to homeschool high school.

Course Subject Matter

One of the main reasons parents worry about homeschooling their high school students is that parents are uncomfortable with teaching courses they might not be familiar with. Examples of this are advanced math and science courses. While a parent who is a high school graduate should be able to teach elementary and middle school classes, it may be that a parent without exposure to courses like calculus, trigonometry, and physics simply doesn’t have the subject matter knowledge to teach the courses.

Lack of subject matter knowledge does not necessarily mean that the parents must put the student back in a more traditional school setting to complete high school. One choice is to look into alternatives to the parent being the teacher for some courses. Homeschool Co-ops are a possibility. Co-ops consist of other homeschooling families who get together to teach classes to small groups of children. Some co-ops teach those more difficult classes such as the advanced math and science courses, including labs. Parents who have the expertise in one subject teach a class such as chemistry, and other parents who can offer math knowledge, writing instruction, or enrichment classes like art or music. By the families cooperating, all students benefit from the availability of course subject matter experts.

Another alternative, especially for older homeschooled high school students is to take dual credit courses through either the local community college, or sometimes even major universities. Dual credit courses allow the student to receive not only high school credit for the course, but also college level credit. It allows homeschooled students to experience being taught by others, meeting course requirements for someone who is not their parent, and allows them to get a taste of college course work. A bonus here is that dual credit courses are sometimes less expensive than the same college course would be because high school students are allowed a discount.

Record Keeping Issues

Homeschooling parents may also be concerned about the record keeping involved with homeschooling high school. There are several aspects to the record keeping end of things. First, there is a concern over how to rate class credits. For courses taught from traditional high school text books, completion of approximately 75% of a high school text book would constitute one high school credit.

For courses that are not taught from traditional high school text books it is possible to count hours. A core curriculum high school credit should take between 150 and 180 hours of course instruction to complete. This would apply to the traditional academic courses. One high school credit is the same as a full year of course work. Enrichment courses such as music or art could be counted in the 120 to 150 hour range. Other elective courses fall into the 120 to 150 hour range as well.

Another aspect of record keeping that is important for homeschooled high school students is compiling a transcript. This is not nearly as difficult as it might seem. Keeping in mind the previously listed guidelines for completing a high school credit, students will need somewhere between twenty-four and twenty-eight high school credits, depending on the state in which they live. Another consideration for the number of course hours needed to graduate high school will be whether the student is college-bound. For students headed to college it is important that they plan on four credits of English, four credits of Math, four of Science, four credits of social studies, as well as at least eight elective credits.

What about a Diploma?

Parents of homeschooled children often worry about whether their child will receive a diploma as some sort of official recognition of their completion of their high school studies. In addition to this, parents worry about whether their student’s accomplishments through high school will be recognized by higher learning establishments. Parents are also concerned about whether their student’s high school record will be acceptable to the military, should that be their student’s goal.

It is not really a concern that should worry homeschooling parents. Many states have enacted laws that make a homeschool high school diploma carry the same weight as a diploma from a traditional school. In some states homeschooled students are actually private schooled-at-home because the state requires a cover school, or umbrella school. In that case, the cover school issues a recognized diploma. Universities and the military recognize homeschooler’s high school credentials as well.

Homeschooled high school students can and do receive similar consideration and treatment as their traditionally educated counterparts. There are many different ways to ensure that the homeschooled high school student gets credit for the courses needed to allow them to graduate from high school as well as enter any post-high school situation such as college or the military. If you think that homeschooling through high school might be for your student know that it is becoming easier to educate at home than it has ever been.