Online learning, or distance education, is becoming more and more available to students. Not only are colleges and universities utilizing online platforms to deliver content, but some elementary, middle and high schools are offering this as a viable option for students. For a variety of reasons, some high school students are unable to earn a traditional high school diploma, so some opt for a GED, or General Education Development. While not completely equivalent, the GED and high school diploma both indicate that a student has successfully completed the requirements for high school.

It is widely documented that workers without a high school diploma are the lowest earners within the economy. Workers without a high school diploma make roughly $25,000 less per year than workers with a high school diploma. Additionally, the majority of unemployed workers are those without high school diplomas. While most students intend on completing high school, external factors may interfere with completion. In these and other cases, online diplomas may be a more viable option.

What Is a Correspondence High School Diploma?

A correspondence high school diploma, or online high school diploma, is usually an equivalent degree such as the GED and not a traditional high school diploma. Students earn the diploma through online courses or by correspondence course, in which content is completed by the student and then returned to the school via the traditional mail system. Some correspondence high school diplomas may be earned through a traditional high school; otherwise, they are usually offered by independent providers.

Are Online High School Diplomas Legitimate?

Online or correspondence high school diploma programs are often legitimate providers. However, it is important to know what to look for when selecting a school or program. The first thing to look for is accreditation by an online or distance learning accrediting body. More importantly, make sure the accrediting body is approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Having this type of accreditation will ensure you are getting what you pay for and that your diploma will be recognized as valid and will be accepted by other schools.

Next, look for what is offered to the student. Schools or programs that offer a variety of courses or even some type of career preparation will likely ensure students are better prepared for post-school opportunities. Lastly, cost is important. Don’t be fooled by really high or really low costs. The more you pay doesn’t always mean better quality, and cheaper isn’t always the best deal. You might also consider looking at other student reviews of their experiences with the school.

Getting a Diploma from Cornerstone Christian Correspondence School

Getting a diploma from Cornerstone Christian Correspondence School may be an option for students. However, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Cornerstone Christian Correspondence School has been in operation for 20 years. They are accredited through ACI, Accrediting Commission International, and all coursework is done through correspondence and at the student’s individual pace. Since this school is ministry based, the costs are lower than other schools and programs. Interested applicants can easily obtain an application packet on the school's website.

However, while Cornerstone Christian Correspondence School asserts that they are an accredited program, the program that accredits them is not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, which means most postsecondary schools will not accept a diploma from this program for acceptance. It is important to note that the accrediting body, ACI, is not approved or recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Because of this, many states will not recognize a diploma from this school as equivalent to the GED.

Other Online Options

Obtaining an accredited, recognized online or correspondence high school diploma is not impossible, but it does take some research. One of the most important things to look for is accreditation by an accrediting body that is approved by the U.S. Department of Education. The following schools are considered to be among the best online high schools: International Connections Academy, Whitmore School, University of Missouri High School and International Virtual Learning Academy.

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About the Author

Melanie Forstall has a doctorate in education and has worked in the field of education for over 20 years. She has been a teacher, grant writer, program director, and higher education instructor. She is a freelance writer specializing in education, and education related content. She writes for We Are Teachers, School Leaders Now, Classroom, Pocket Sense, local parenting magazines, and other professional academic outlets. Additionally, she has co-authored book chapters specializing in providing services for students with disabilities.