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What Are the 4 Types of Online High Schools?


Not all online high schools are created equal. Private programs offer quality at a high price tag. Public online high schools educate students for free but aren’t available in all areas. Students can also earn a diploma at no cost from online charter schools. However, these programs are sometimes unreliable and available only to students living in certain cities. Alternatively, university-sponsored online high schools offer nationwide programs but may have more strict admissions policies. Read on to learn more about the four types of online high schools.

Private Online High Schools

Private online high schools are not controlled by the government. Just like brick-and-mortar private schools, private online high schools vary in terms of quality. Private schooling is generally the most expensive option. However, many private online high school programs are regionally accredited (the most-trusted form of accreditation) and offer students one-on-one access to counselors, teachers, and tutors. When choosing a private online high school make sure that the school is properly accredited, has a track record of successfully educating students, and is easy to communicate with. Ask about hidden charges and fees (curriculum costs, graduation fees, etc.) and admission requirements. Learn More: Private Online High Schools.

Public Online High Schools

Many states are creating public online high schools. These schools are free to minor students in the state; many also lend students curriculum and computers at no cost. Almost all public online high schools meet basic state and national school requirements and are regionally accredited. Some online public schools are designed to augment the traditional classroom experience and do not offer high school diplomas. When choosing an online public high school check to see that the school is properly accredited and offers diplomas. If your child will be transferring from another public school in the state, find out how his or her credits will be applied to the online program. Learn More: Public Online High Schools.

Online Charter Schools

Students attending online charter schools often receive a unique education at no-cost. Online charter schools are funded by the government; however, they are run independently and are subject to less government oversight. An online charter school may target a certain demographic (dropouts or honors students, for example) or focus on a particular subject (such as technology or the arts). Because online charter schools are technically public schools, they cannot charge tuition or have strict admission policies. In many states charter schools are sponsored by a school district and may only accept students who live in that district. When selecting an online charter school ask about the school’s boundaries, its accreditation, and its track record. Be aware that charter schools often fail and are closed by the state or school district; carefully choose a school that has proven itself. Learn More: Online Charter Schools.

University-Affiliated Online High Schools

A growing number of universities are embracing the online high school movement. Because colleges want to protect their good name, university-sponsored programs generally offer high quality education. Costs, admission policies, and program requirements vary widely. Before enrolling in a university-sponsored online high school make sure the program is regionally accredited. Ask about the teachers’ qualifications and the potential to earn university-level credit. Some programs allow students to earn a limited amount of college credits while working towards a high school diploma, a benefit to anyone planning on pursing further education. Learn More: University-Affiliated Online High Schools.

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