Do colleges accept online high school degrees?

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Answered by: Diana, An Expert in the Distance Learning - General Category
Online education is as new as the Internet, though distance education has been around for awhile. "Correspondence schools" have existed since the 1700's, when Caleb Phillips (and a hundred years later, Isaac Pitman) offered shorthand lessons by mail. Well-respected universities became involved in distance learning as early as 1858, when the University of London offered an 'External Programme."

By the middle of the twentieth century many U.S. colleges and universities had distance learning programs, though students had to be very careful to check accreditation; many of those programs were considered to be substandard, and not accepted by graduate schools or employers. Without proper accreditation, the diplomas were worthless.

Since the advent of the Internet, options for distance learning have expanded greatly. In the case of high schools, online high schools can be a real asset to both homeschoolers and for those students who simply need another method of attending classes. Most local school districts now have a distance learning option for students who cannot attend classes on campus. There are so many options and ads that prospective students and their parents can get confused.

The choices can be narrowed greatly by asking some questions. In fact, the same questions asked about classroom based schools are the ones that need to be asked about online colleges and online high schools. The first and most important one is this: what accreditation do they have? If the school is accredited by CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation) through one of its seven regional organizations, the student can be sure that a degree earned from that school is a degree that will be accepted anywhere. If the online school is accredited by a recognized accreditation organization, it will be very easy to find it; the school will put that information in a very prominent place on their website. They know the importance of accreditation!

In addition to regional accreditation, many online high schools seek accreditation from organizations that specifically look at online schools, like the national Distance Education and Training Council. These organizations look at the specific methods that online schools use that are not available to 'brick and mortar' organizations, so it is an advantage when an online high school is accredited by both regional and national organizations. Just remember: it may seem backwards, but it's more important to have a regional accreditation than it is to have a national one!

Once the question of accreditation is answered, the student knows that a degree from that online high school is a degree that will be accepted by a university. The rest of the questions should be about personal needs; how available are the teachers? Is the work demanding? Is there a variety of courses? Is there a schedule (due dates set by the teacher) or is the work entirely student-paced? Are there resources for the student, like libraries, data-bases, tutoring and real-time help? Is the curriculum set by the teacher, the school--or the parent? There are as many options out there as there are students, and accredited high schools can provide most of them.

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