Earn Your High School Diploma Online: Steps, Requirements & Tips

Posted on September 20 2019


Plain and simple, most employers want workers who have a high school diploma. But some current and former high school students have faced challenges in their efforts to earn a diploma. Students may have felt disengaged or struggled in school and ended up dropping out. Some students chose to drop out to support their families financially or to take care of an ill family member. Those who have already dropped out might hesitate to return to school, perhaps because they believe they don’t have the time to complete coursework or earn a General Educational Development (GED) certificate.

Others looking to complete their high school education may wonder if doing so is within their budget. If you are in your late teens or early 20s, you may qualify to finish your education at an online charter high school for free (depending on your state’s law). Otherwise, you will need to pay for your classes. However, many students don’t realize that online high schools offer financial aid and tuition assistance.

Reasons for dropping out of high school are complex, but advances in digital media and technology have made it possible for individuals to earn a high school diploma online or obtain a GED certificate online. An accredited program, such as the one offered by The American Academy, enables returning students to obtain a rewarding high school education and earn a diploma that can help them advance throughout their careers and their lives. If you are interested in earning a high school diploma online, check out the guidelines below.


Earning a High School Diploma Online: Obtain Transcripts

Before enrolling or applying to an online high school diploma program, start by requesting official copies of your transcripts from any and all high schools you have attended in the past. Depending on where you attended high school, your institution could offer this service online or by mail, while some may require you to obtain the transcripts in person.

It’s key to follow your previous school or schools’ specific requirements for obtaining transcripts. Some schools can require students to offer proof of identification, others may only accept payment by check or credit card. Additionally, if there are any restrictions that could prevent you from obtaining transcripts, such as academic or financial holds, you should find out what to do to have those restrictions lifted.

Admissions staff or the enrollment team within an online high school program need these transcripts, as they indicate what subjects a prospective student has already successfully completed and what classes they still need to take. Most online schools will initially evaluate an unofficial transcript, but require an official transcript for students to continue and earn their diploma. Additionally, students can save money by not having to pay for coursework they already completed at another institution. Students who don’t submit transcripts can still enroll in an online high school diploma program, but they would be starting over from scratch, since they wouldn’t be able to document previous successful coursework.


Earning a High School Diploma Online: Meet with an Enrollment Adviser

Once you submit your transcripts, you can meet with advisers and members of an enrollment team to determine what classes you need to complete to earn a diploma as well as what elective courses are available that you may want to take.

Additionally, these staff members offer guidance and support as you navigate the process. If you have questions about classes, enrollment, tuition, or any other aspect of the program, have them ready before your session and feel free to ask any other questions that come up during your meeting.

You can meet with an enrollment adviser as many times as you like. It’s normal for prospective students learning more about an online high school diploma program to have a lot of questions. The enrollment team is happy to help.

Enrollment advisers can also offer tips and advice for succeeding in a high school diploma program. These professionals can offer you recommendations on developing a study schedule, building relationships with instructors, and preparing for exams.


Earning a High School Diploma Online: Enrolling in Classes

The next step in earning a high school diploma online is enrolling in specific courses. Some schools may require students to complete a formal application, while others allow prospective students to research and enroll in courses right away. For example, once students at The American Academy pay tuition, they can select different courses they want to enroll in If they’ve had a full transcript evaluation, students will automatically receive access to the courses they need to earn their diploma. Students still waiting for their transcripts to be evaluated will have access to electives and other common courses they’ll need for their diploma.

You may need to arrange for specific tools and materials for the online high school diploma program and classes. Because classes are delivered online, you will need to make sure you own or have regular access to a computer or tablet where you can complete your coursework. This can include purchasing your own desktop or laptop computer or planning to reserve a public desktop such as those at a community library. You should also make sure that you have access to a reliable internet connection.

You might need to buy textbooks and other course materials. Because prices vary and some items may have limited availability, you should research the list of what’s needed for a course to ensure you can get those items. However, some online schools, like The American Academy, will cover the cost of all materials in tuition.


Earning a High School Diploma Online: Succeeding in Class

Many online high school diploma programs are self-paced, meaning students don’t necessarily meet in a virtual classroom at a given time of day. Instead, they progress through a course on their own schedule. However, online courses may still have rules about how long a student can take to finish. For example, a school can provide a three-month window to complete an algebra course, where some students finish in 20 days and others in 80, but they still need to complete the course within three months if they want to earn credit.

Flexible, self-paced scheduling is convenient, but it’s also important for you to set your own timelines for when you want to complete courses and the program at large. That may include completing a certain number of assignments in a week, dedicating specific days or times to complete coursework, or finishing an entire course in a given amount of time.

Also remember that just because a course is online that does not mean it is easier to complete than an in-person class. Because there isn’t an instructor engaging in face-to-face conversations with the class, you need to make sure you contact the instructor any time you need guidance or clarification. Additionally, even though your fellow students are not sitting right next to you, you can still form valuable relationships with other classmates online.

Lastly, make sure you are in a space and environment that allows for the highest learning potential. Working in an area that is quiet, has plenty of light, and is free of noise and physical disruption allows you to concentrate on your work.


Enhance Your Future: Earn Your High School Diploma Online 

Earning a high school diploma is a big stepping stone on the path to success. But again, roadblocks in your way may have caused you to hesitate or even give up. As mentioned earlier, you might not have time to attend in-person classes, you might have familial or financial obligations, or you might just be nervous about returning to school after dropping out.

Online high school diploma programs offer a flexible, affordable, and rewarding alternative. These programs provide a comprehensive high school education in a format that works in conjunction with other life responsibilities, with the aim of a diploma that boosts your chances of a brighter future.



The American Academy, Course Catalog

The American Academy, High School Diploma

Georgetown Public Policy Institute, “Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020”