At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
In recent years, it has become easier and easier to earn a diploma online, and there are now many avenues available to do so. People choose to earn a diploma online for a number of reasons, and different systems are geared towards these various paths. Within these many different realms there are two main groups of people that choose to earn a diploma online: high-school-aged students who are unable or unwilling to attend regular high school, and older students who have chosen to complete a degree left unfinished. Additionally, people may choose to earn a college degree online.
Students between the ages of 14 and 18 can generally choose to either earn a diploma via a pen-and-pencil home school program, or can choose to earn a diploma online. Many students choose to combine an online diploma track with some home schooling, generally with a parent or guardian serving as the facilitator. This offers the benefits of easy scheduling and an outside perspective granted by an online program, along with the sharply-focused individualized education that home schooling allows.
Most teen-focused online diploma programs have curriculum set up in a similar fashion to a traditional high school. Generally classes are one credit each, covering each of the basic subject areas, such as English and World History, with many subject areas containing multiple levels, such as English I, II, III, and IV. In addition to a core curriculum, these programs will generally offer approximately one-third of the credit hours as elective courses, which can be chosen from a more extensive list, including subjects like Ecology, Sociology, and Computers.
Adults wishing to earn a high school diploma online generally pursue different programs, although the general premise is much the same. One thing most adults looking to finish their diploma should ask themselves is whether there is a good reason to do so: whether they actually need it to pursue what they want to pursue, for example, or whether there is an emotional payoff to completing their diploma. In some cases, it may make more sense to move straight to a local community college to begin working on an Associate’s degree instead.
For those who do decide to pursue an online diploma, there are many resources available to find the best schools. The most widely accepted schools are accredited by a regional organization, but these can also be the most costly. A number of schools are also accredited by the Distance Education Training Council, which offers an accreditation recognized by most employers.
One of the most important distinctions between schools geared towards teenagers, and those geared towards adults later in life is the speed at which the program can be completed. As much of the purpose of high school for teenagers is to keep them occupied during these years, most online schools for this age group are meant to be four year programs. Schools geared towards adults, however, will generally offer accelerated options, allowing a dedicated student to complete their education in a much shorter period of time.