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"When test scores go up, we should worry, because of how poor a measure they are of what matters, and what you typically sacrifice in a desperate effort to raise scores." - Alfie Kohn

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How To Finish High School Online For Free

Instead of physically sitting in class, you can take all the same courses online from the comfort of your own home and finish high school online. There are some courses that still require you to physically go to a building to take an exam or for some other reason, but these are considered to be hybrids. In the US, online schools are generally free if they're run by the state.

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How to find an online high school

Distance isn't really an issue, but it's generally a good idea to try to enroll in one that's not too far away if you want your diploma to be from the same state you live in. It probably doesn't really matter in the long run though. You could even get a diploma from one of the international online schools if you're not in the US at all.

I have a list here of the best online high schools (some are international). I also have lists of free online high schools, listed by US State.

You can also try to find an online high school by searching Google for "virtual high school" and the name of the city nearest to where you live. This method tends to work best for the US. For other countries, you may have to experiment a bit with what you type in.

Advantages of Finishing High School Online

  • No need to get up ridiculously early in the morning
  • No bullies
  • No mean teachers
  • No set time limits
  • ... do I need to list any more? :)

Disadvantages/Requirements of Finishing High School Online

  • You have to manage your time on your own (though this could be a good thing too)
  • People will probably argue that you're not socializing enough
  • You have to be able to type well
  • The actual course and work that you do will probably be pretty similar to the stuff you do in regular school

Getting a high school diploma online

These are usually called "virtual schools" or "cyberschools". Everything is done over the internet.

There are 4 main types of assignments. Assessments are the most common, and include students uploading files, usually created using wordprocessors or spreadsheets. Worksheets are also common, and can consist of multiple choice, matching, short answer, and other questions. Generally, grading is controlled by the teachers. Most questions from worksheets are auto graded by the computer, but if a response is needed for any question, the teacher must manually grade that portion of the assignment. (From Wikipedia)

Here is a list of free online schools for each US state | Here is a list of the best online schools (not free, and some are international)

How do you convince your parents to let you finish high school online?

Tell them it's just like regular school, except you don't have to physically go there. You'll get a perfectly normal high school diploma when you're done. You still have teachers who give you work to do, but you can do it at your own pace and you don't have to deal with annoying classmates, bullies or anyone else you don't want to see. The downside is you won't see friends at school either, but you can still see them after school.

You can also tell them that because you work through it at your own pace, you'll learn "valuable time-management skills". This is just a fancy way of saying that you need to be able to motivate yourself to do the work... which can be a downside as well since it's the same regular boring schoolwork you've been doing since forever.

They might bring up the socialization argument and say that you'll become a hermit or something, to which you can respond by directing them to this article (well, print it first if you don't want them to actually visit this site). Basically, if you're not forced to be around obnoxious people, you'll be LESS likely to become a hermit.

Getting a degree online

This distance learning stuff doesn't just apply to high school, you can also get just about any degree online without having to set foot in a university/college. Some courses will require you to show up every now and then for practical purposes, but for the most part you don't have to go anywhere.

OEDb - OEDb currently contains reviews of 1,172 programs from 96 accredited online colleges.
Guide to Online Schools - Directory of Accredited Online Degrees and Distance Learning Programs.
Online Schools - Top Accredited Online Schools.

Learning stuff online

200 Free Online Classes to Learn Anything - Huge list of free courses online.
MIT OpenCourseWare - Free lecture notes, exams, and other resources from more than 1800 courses spanning MIT's entire curriculum.

Independent Study / Correspondence Courses online

These are not necessarily degree programs, but online courses for independent study etc. I'm not sure if you'll get credit for all of these places, I haven't verified that.

Stanford - Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY)

Great program which I plan on taking some courses in. The highlight of the program is the course sequence on physics and math. They have freshmen physics through introductory quantum mechanics, and kindergarten level math to point-set topology/differential equations/basic number theory and more. :)

They also have introductory programming (C, Java), a course in fundamental music theory, and some writing courses.

Colorado Consortium for Independent Study

Has tons of online courses on even very obscure topics such as advanced astrodynamics or preventing back pain with ergonomics. The FAQ also says these are available for international students.

Ohio University's Correspondence Courses

Similar to Colorado's Consortium. Lots and lots of courses.

Texas Tech - Outreach & Distance Education

Has courses for K-12 students as well as some undergraduate courses.

University of Mississippi - Independent Study

Nothing too advanced, has lots of random courses. Worth checking out.

University of Missouri - Center for Distance Learning & Independent Study

Similar to University of Mississippi, has more courses that are offered as well as elementary and high school level courses. Also offers an online general studies degree.

Articles about Online High Schools

List of Online Virtual High Schools


3 Steps To Getting An Online High School Education by Dean Iggo
Some instructions for getting your high school diploma online.
2008.Jul.10

The Importance of Accreditation by Heather Brunson
If you choose an online high school that isn't accredited, you may find that many colleges and businesses won't accept your diploma.
2008.Jul.10

Why Online High School? by Heather Brunson
Online High Schools are just like their classroom counterparts - there are assignments, quizzes and final exams.
2008.Jul.10

Got more info about finishing high school online?

If you have any online high school info that I should add to this page, please contact me.

Related Stuff:
The Teenage Liberation Handbook
Beware Of Fake Diplomas!
3 Steps To Getting An Online High School Education
The Importance of Accreditation
Why (or why not) Online High School?
Homeschooling & Unschooling
Dropping out / Getting a GED
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