High School Diploma Programs Overview

High school diploma programs are available through most community and technical colleges, as well as independent institutions and are typically offered at little or no cost to the student. These programs are especially designed for working adults looking to go back to school to earn the diploma.

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Overview of High School Diploma Programs for Adults

Adult high school diploma programs can serve both individuals who are only a few credits short of a diploma and those who need to fulfill all of their high school studies. Students in these programs are required to take the same courses and equivalent workload as traditional high school students. Each state regulates their own curriculum, but typical required subjects include math, science, English, history and electives.

Students are usually required to take a skills assessment test and provide a sealed copy of their high school transcript prior to registration. High school credits may be awarded for transfer credits, military basic training, military schooling and work experience. Some programs require a minimum of a ninth grade reading level or the student may be required to take reading improvement courses.

Diplomas are earned when the student has enough credits as deemed by the school and has passed either a state competency test or standardized assessment. High school diploma programs are offered as correspondence courses, traditional classroom-based instruction, online classes or a hybrid that combines formats.

The U.S. Department of Education provides a list of accredited post-secondary institutions that might be helpful in your search for a high school diploma program.

High School Diploma Correspondence Courses

Correspondence courses are textbook-based and use printed materials and DVDs for instruction. Books and materials are sent to the student through the U.S. mail. Exams typically require the presence of an approved proctor and may be turned in through the mail or, in some cases, completed online.

These types of high school classes are self-paced and competency-based. Students work at their own pace and, must successfully complete a minimum number of credits with a passing grade of C or better, depending on the institution. Self-motivation, time management and good reading skills are required.

High School Diploma Courses in a Classroom

Students work with instructors independently or in small groups. Computerized instructional units on a classroom computer may also be used. Classes have regularly scheduled meeting times and are generally offered during both day and evening hours. Printed materials and textbooks are used, and exams are taken in a classroom. This option may be best for students who learn through a hands-on approach or require individualized attention.

Online and Hybrid High School Diploma Programs

Online high school courses use Web-based course management systems to deliver coursework over the Internet. Communication with instructors is conducted through e-mail and dedicated chat rooms. Students typically need a high-speed Internet connection, current Web browser and word processing software.

Coursework is usually self-paced and competency based as well. The student may keep testing on a subject until a minimum acceptable score is achieved. Skills in time management, self-motivation, organization, reading and writing are beneficial. Some programs require an approved proctor be present for all exams.

Hybrid programs combine online courses with on-campus requirements. Online and printed materials are utilized; on-campus computer lab time and instructor meetings are often required. Most hybrid programs require the student to take final exams in a campus classroom.

Why Get Your High School Diploma?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals who have a diploma consistently make more than those without. Full-time workers with a diploma make $203 more in median weekly earnings than those without a diploma. With a high school diploma you will have more opportunities with the military, job training, employment, and college.

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