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An alternative secondary education is typically received from a school that is in some way different from a "mainstream" or "standard" campus. Traditional high schools are often considered to be the standard, and so an alternative school can include an institution designed for those students having trouble in a normal school. There are programs available for students with disabilities or who may have special needs that cannot be met within a mainstream classroom. An alternative secondary education can also come from a technical or vocational school, which typically focuses on learning practical skills over general knowledge.
The purpose of alternative secondary education is to provide students who may not be satisfied or effectively taught through a standard school with useful alternatives. Some students, for example, may have emotional or psychological issues that impair their development and make their presence within a standard classroom disruptive. These students may find that a traditional classroom with dozens of students and a single teacher cannot provide them with a quality education that meets their needs. An alternative secondary education, often in a smaller classroom with multiple educators, can be a solution that provides these students with a positive and meaningful experience.
Students with physical disabilities or impairments may also find that an alternative secondary education provides them with a more satisfying classroom environment. While many students with visual or hearing difficulties may still be able to succeed within a standard classroom, it is often easier for them to have a fuller experience in a setting that better addresses their needs. Unfortunately, a negative stigma may be associated with this type of alternative secondary education. This is typically unfounded, however, since the educators and other professionals working in such an institution are often as qualified or more experienced than those in a traditional classroom setting.
An alternative secondary education may be designed to provide students with a specific type of learning, or to cover subjects that may otherwise go ignored in a standard school. Students who are especially interested in technical fields, such as electronics, automotive repair, or computer science and programming, may find the education provided at a public school too limited. Vocational or technical schools that focus on alternative secondary education still provide students with a high school diploma, but allow them to focus on courses outside those available at other campuses. This type of education can be quite rewarding for students who find their interests unmet by standard schools, and can give them an advantage toward attending a technical college or program at a university.