Accreditation of online private schoolsSome private high schools are accredited by regional or national accreditation boards, while others are not. If the schools are not accredited, students’ credits may not transfer to colleges or to other high schools, and any diplomas the students earn may not be valid for college or future employment. Therefore, be sure to check ahead of time whether a private online high school offers credits that will be accepted at other schools.
How private online schools workSome private high schools offer a great deal of flexibility for older students or for students who need the flexibility to work at their own pace. Other private online schools offer courses for academically talented students who could not otherwise have access to such interesting courses. Some schools offer both diploma programs and individual courses, and students can generally move through the work at their own pace. Students have be highly motivated to get through the work, and they may need an adult to help monitor their progress. Most online programs provide access to instructors who can answer students’ questions, and some programs have instructors who can provide one-on-one help. The more expensive programs also tend to offer individualized help in planning coursework and in applying to college. Each program differs, so check what they offer.
Profiles of online private schools
Penn Foster, a nationally and regionally accredited school, is one of the oldest distance learning private high schools in the country. Located in Scranton, Pennsylvania, it was started to help coal miners learn engineering. Students can enroll in individual courses or in a diploma program. They take classes via mail or online, and they have access to career services, including resume-writing, job-searching, and interviewing skills. Some of the classes are basic requirements for a high school diploma, while many of the electives are vocational in nature (such as Auto Repair Technician and Personal Computer Specialist). Students can also concentrate in building technology, information technology, healthcare, or early college classes, or simply earn a high school diploma. Students can work through the program at their own pace. Once students have completed a lesson, they take an online exam. If they pass the exam, they move on to the next lesson. The diploma program, which includes textbooks, lesson plans, study guides and toll-free instructional support, costs just under $1,495.
CompuHigh, which refers to itself as “The World’s First Online High School,” was founded in 1994. It is accredited by different regional associations. The school and offers a general studies and a college prep diploma course, as well as individual courses for students in grades 9-12 and for adults over 21. The school suggests students take two courses at a time and complete one lesson in each course per day. The diploma course costs $1,185 a year. A diploma plus program, with access to a personal educational counselor and weekly reports sent to parents, costs $1,585 per year.
The George Washington University Online High School, a collaboration between George Washington University and K12 International Academy, is currently pursuing accreditation, expected in 2012. It offers 100 college-prep courses, including Advanced Placement classes. Students work closely with an advisor to plan their courses, which are taught by teachers with expertise in their fields who not only instruct classes but also grade assignments and respond to students’ questions. The school also offers individualized college guidance. The annual tuition, which covers the cost of six full-time classes, is $9,995 per year.