Teenagers who like to learn but do not like school can benefit from a variety of other types of formal education options. Whether they don’t like the drama of being around other teens or they are bored to death with their current classes, they can take advantage of alternative schooling choices that may help them graduate earlier and have a much better time learning. Online schools, homeschooling, dual enrollment, alternative high school tracks and GEDs offer students many choices to complete their education.
New Internet high schools are popping up in school districts across the country. The educational nonprofit Project Tomorrow states that the number of students who took online classes in 2010 doubled from the time it conducted its survey, Speak Up, in 2008. Online schools can be public or private.
Advantages and Disadvantages to Online Schooling
Many online schools provide education that is on par with what you would find in a public school. Their instructors are often experienced bricks-and-mortar school teachers. Some online high schools are affiliated with colleges, such as the online high schools at Stanford and at Ashworth College. The scheduling for online studying is more flexible than being in school from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and provides teens more time to do other activities like hobbies or working.
However, students who are not self-directed and self-disciplined will have a difficult time staying focused on their schoolwork. Additionally, some online schools are not recognized by your state’s department of education and may provide sub-par education. Your state's department of education likely maintains a list on its website of the recognized schools, both public and private, in the state. If not, call the department of education and ask whether an online high school you are considering is recognized. Check on the accreditation of any school you consider.
Homeschool students can often finish four years of work in just two years, similar to online students. There are fewer distractions when teens learn at home, and this helps them to stay focused on their work. According to FamilyEducation.com, many schools require students who miss a week of class to receive just 1.5 to five hours of at-home teaching to make up the missed time. The time wasted on discipline and administrative tasks, long bus rides, hours of nightly homework and other time-wasting activities are frustrating to teens who would rather be graduating. Homeschooling students can also enroll part-time in an online school to help cover subjects that parents are uncomfortable teaching.
Dual Enrollment and Special Programs
Dual enrollment is another option for students who do not like school but who can succeed in a college environment. Teens enroll in college classes as high school students and receive college and high school credit for the classes they successfully complete. Dual enrollment has traditionally focused on students with good to excellent grade point averages, but they are becoming more recognized as benefiting students who have average GPAs and interest in technical careers and making the transition from high school to college easier.
This option is offered through many public schools and colleges, and it is a good way to get ahead on graduating early from high school, and from college. High school students typically pay little or nothing for their college tuition.
Some public schools also offer alternative high schools for students who want to graduate early. The schedules at these schools are more flexible than traditional school. School districts may also offer high school programs focused on vocational education while providing high school curriculum concurrently.
Finally, earning a GED is a good option for some teens. GED classes are offered by public school districts’ adult education departments, colleges and community organizations, making the possibility of finding a schedule that works for the teen greater than regular school. Typically students must unenroll from a regular high school before they can take GED classes. However, students can enter the GED program later, if they wish.
Each state has its own GED program eligibility requirements. For example, students aged 17 to 18.5 must be served by special programs or school districts in the state. In Colorado, students who are 16 can apply for a waiver to take the test. Texas requires those who want to take the GED test to be 18, be residents of the state and not be enrolled in a high school.