Find the Best Online High Schools
Compare Reviews for Top Online High Schools
Read 180 Reviews
Accredited online high school with four diploma options. Self-paced with no due dates. 17:1 student-to-teacher ratio. Prices start at $1,599. Discounts for siblings and military. Adult programs available.
|American High School|
Read 18 Reviews
Accredited online school serving grades K-12, plus adult learners. Offers programs for international students. AP and honors courses. Monthly tuition payments.
|Epic Charter Schools|
Read 132 Reviews
Provides tuition-free online public education for pre-K-12 students in Oklahoma. Organizations include the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, EPIC student council and homeschool band.
|Laurel Springs School|
Read 23 Reviews
Select from options for gifted and talented students, single courses, summer programs and more. Fully accredited private school for grades K-12. Academy tuition starts at $9,000 per year. Available throughout the U.S.
Read 139 Reviews
Available in 50 states and Washington, D.C. Select from a range of courses, plus career readiness education and independent studies. Tuition is free in many states, and private programs are available.
|Penn Foster High School|
Read 33 Reviews
Penn Foster offers students the ability to customize their curriculum and schedule to meet their academic and other needs. Users can choose between online and print textbooks so they can learn in the way that's best for them.
|Florida Virtual School|
Read 18 Reviews
Available to private and public school students throughout the U.S. Enrolls Florida students in grades K-12 for free. Offers accredited programs and more than 30 student clubs that meet online and in-person.
Read 19 Reviews
Offers tuition-free, full-time online public school for grades K–12. Only pay for optional field trips and some school supplies, such as printer cartridges. Not available in all states.
|James Madison High School|
Read 39 Reviews
James Madison High School allows traditional high school students, homeschoolers and older people who have not yet received a high school diploma to study at their convenience and fulfill requirements to graduate.
|The Keystone School|
Read 28 Reviews
Offers customized programs for grades K-12. Full-time annual tuition starts around $2,000. Students can enroll in a degree path or individual courses at any time. Adult learner and credit recovery programs also available.
Choosing an online high school program
A high school diploma is of vital importance, as 90% of jobs in the US are inaccessible to a high school dropout. Unfortunately, some of us simply cannot go to a physical school or traditional homeschool for a number of reasons. The solution is an online high school, and we can show you how to choose the best one.
1. Study the virtual school’s accreditations
National and regional accreditation is vitally important when choosing your online high school. The proper accreditation ensures online high schools are in compliance with federal regulations and are using high standards of academic quality. The difference between an online high school with the right accreditation and one without also means your diploma could be illegitimate in the eyes of college admissions and job hiring professionals.
- National accreditation: There are national accrediting bodies for online high schools, the most recognized being the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.
- Regional accreditation: Regional accreditation is more common in the online high school industry. AdvanED, the world’s largest educational accreditor, is the parent organization of the following regional accreditors: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS-CASI), North Central Association Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA-CASI) and Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC).
- State accreditation: Some online high schools are public schools and are accredited by the states in which they operate, just like their brick and mortar counterparts.
2. What is the online high school’s curriculum offerings?
Many families choose online high school due to the need for alternative education. Whether you need to learn a skilled trade or want to finish out the rest of your remedial studies, online high schools can offer curriculums tailored to the needs and goals of each student.
- Honors/AP classes: Gifted students, especially those in underserved areas, can benefit from a full range of Honors and AP classes offered by online high schools.
- Vocational Technical training classes: Students who would like more preparation in specific areas, beyond a general high school curriculum, may find appropriate classes for credit at online high schools.
- College preparatory: These courses are ideal for students planning to attend a 4-year college or university. Remember, colleges around the country accept online high school graduates as long as the diploma is from an appropriately accredited school.
- General studies: Geared toward students planning to attend a community or technical college, or who are going to join the military or workforce after graduation.
3. Look for alternate ways to earn credit
With some online high schools, students can get credit from previous education, life, and work experiences. Make sure to approach the school’s admissions and see if they offer any of the following, this may be able to save time and money.
- Credit for experience: Some online high schools offer credit for life and work experience. This is especially attractive for older learners and learners employed in the trade they are studying. Usually, an assessment is necessary to earn credit.
- Transfer credits: Often, a student's credits from other accredited high schools can be transferred, especially if the previous schooling credits earned in remedial classes like basic math or science course. In some cases, an assessment test may be necessary.
- Earn college credit: Some online high schools offer students the ability to earn college credit while still in high school. These credits can be used towards a high school diploma as well as a college degree.
4. Ask about all payment options
Payment options can be a big factor for future students, especially if the student also happens to be the breadwinner splitting time between work and school. However, many online high schools offer different types of payment options from flexible payments to sliding payment scales to public opportunities that may even make your experience free. Don’t be afraid to speak with the financial aid and billing departments about payment questions, as well as these options.
- Free tuition: Some online high schools are public and therefore free of charge.
- Flexible course purchase: While some programs require payment of full tuition for an academic period, other online high schools allow for payment of individual courses if a student just needs supplemental course work.
- Financing: Some online high schools offer financing which can often be free of interest and financing charges.
- Scholarships: Those needing assistance with tuition and equipment costs may be able to find online high schools that offer scholarships.
5. Inquire about academic support
A student's success can often be traced back to the support they receive in their educational journey. This is also true in the world of online high school. For those returning to school after a few years (or decades) of absence, you may need extra help to acclimate back into school life.
- Academic counselors: Most online high schools provide parents and students with an academic counselor. The counselor works with families to create an education plan that meets the goals and needs of the student.
- Peer support: Students at online high schools can often find many ways to enjoy peer support either through forums, chat rooms, social media and sometimes in-person community events.
- Teacher support: Families may turn to online high school as a way to provide their child with more one-on-one support from teachers than is possible in the traditional academic setting.
What are the different types of online high schools?
Education Management Organization (EMO)
These virtual schools are operated by an organization focused specifically on education. EMOs can be non-profit but are more often for-profit.
Virtual schools operated by states and school districts are tuition-free public charter or magnet schools, chartered by the state to provide education. Many districts contract with an EMO to provide students with an online curriculum option or other educational support services.
Some private online high schools serve students who need a flexible schedule not available in traditional schools. This includes Olympic athletes, musicians, actors, artists, or those dedicated to an alternative schedule that conflicts with traditional high-school hours. Many private online high schools are aimed at gifted students and often serve as a feeder program into major universities. There is a tuition charge which can be significantly higher than the other types of online high schools.
Online high schools FAQ
- Can you get your high school diploma online for free?
- Yes, it is possible to earn your high school diploma online for free. Before choosing an online school, thoroughly research the program to guarantee you know what you’re getting into. Make sure the online school of your choice is legitimate and accredited before registering for classes. Accreditation is important because other schools, organizations and companies may not honor certain free online diplomas.
If you are a minor and your area offers government-funded public and charter online high schools, you can attend those for free too.
- How much does online high school cost?
- Online high school can cost anywhere from $0 to over $10,000 per year. When comparing online high schools, remember that annual cost is just one factor, along with the program’s qualifications.
- Is online high school a good idea?
- Yes, online high schools are a good idea for many people, including those who:
- Didn’t have the opportunity to earn their GED diploma
- Do not thrive in a traditional high school environment
- Have special situations which require flexible learning opportunities
These students may also benefit from tutoring.
- Do colleges accept online high school diplomas?
- Yes, almost all colleges accept online high school diplomas from accredited programs. Accreditation is key to determining whether or not an online high school program is legitimate or a scam.
- Can you start online school in the middle of the year?
- Most online schools allow you to begin classes at any point in the year. However, certain programs may be on a set schedule due to the teachers’ plans or curriculum.
- Is online high school accredited?
- Yes, many online high schools are accredited. Be sure to verify that an online high school is accredited before enrolling. Nearly all colleges accept high school diplomas from accredited online high schools.
- Is online school year-round?
- With the flexibility of online school, students can attend these programs year-round. Online schools often allow students to customize their course schedules to meet their educational and personal needs.
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Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
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