Dropped Out of High School? - Here are Great Options to Get You Back on Track

Let's face it: sometimes high school just doesn't work out as planned. If you have dropped out of high school and are looking for some great ways to get back on track, be sure to check out the ideas in this post.

What is required to receive a diploma online?

A high school diploma is an award given to students who complete the required coursework and credits for a secondary school program, which typically includes grades 9 through 12. Students who haven't graduated from a traditional brick-and-mortar high school may be able to earn an accredited high school diploma online. There are many reasons students opt to get high school diplomas online.

If you want to get a high school diploma online you should make sure that it is accredited. One source of information on accredited online high school programs is the Distance Education and Accrediting Commission (DEAC), a nonprofit organization that operates an accrediting commission for distance learning programs. Its website, www.deac.org, provides a list of online high school programs accredited by its commission.

While there are a growing number of online high school diploma programs, they are not all created equally. Like online colleges, accreditation by a third party is very important. Additionally, they are funded in different ways, which can affect the out-of-pocket cost for you as a student.

There are four different types of high school diploma programs, including: public online high schools (government-funded and free to attend), online charter schools (government-funded by privately run institutions), private online high schools (no government funding) and college-sponsored online high schools.

Options for online high schools

  1. Stanford University Online High School. ...
  2. GW Online High School. ...
  3. University of Missouri High School: Mizzou K-12. ...
  4. Mother of Divine Grace. ...
  5. University of Texas High School. ...
  6. Oak Meadow School. ...
  7. International Virtual Learning Academy. ...
  8. Laurel Springs School.

GED vs. HiSet vs. TASC

So what are the differences between a GED, HiSet, and TASC?  They vary in cost, offer tests in slightly different subjects, and are aligned by and with innovative learning standards.  Check out the list below to learn more about the differences between taking a GED versus a HiSet or TASC.


  1. Four tests:
    1. Reasoning through Language Arts
    2. Mathematical Reasoning
    3. Science
    4. Social Studies
  2. All testing takes place online with a proctor
  3. Essay response in language arts and social studies, short answer in science
  4. Must take at state-approved testing center
  5. Some states offer 2 discounted or free retakes
  6. Cost varies by state, average $120 or $30 per test
  7. Find a testing center


  1. Five tests:
    1. Language Arts Reading
    2. Language Arts Writing
    3. Mathematics
    4. Science
    5. Social Studies
  2. Includes essay in writing portion of Language Arts
  3. Testing is available on paper and computer with proctor
  4. Aligned to College and Career Readiness Standards for Adults
  5. States decide testing locations
  6. Includes 2 free retakes
  7. Cost varies by state and format; $10.95 – $15 per test or $53.75 – $75 overall
  8. Find a testing center

  9. TASC
  10. Five tests:
    1. Language Arts Reading
    2. Language Arts Writing
    3. Mathematics
    4. Science
    5. Social Studies
  11. Includes essay in writing portion of Language Arts
  12. Testing is available on paper and computer with proctor
  13. Follows Common Core Standards most relevant to college and career readiness
  14. State decides testing centers
  15. Includes 2 free retakes
  16. Cost varies widely by state, typically around $115 or $23 per test; though in New York and West Virginia the test is free

More Options for Adult Learners

Some states offer an Adult Diploma that is competency based rather than credit based. This means students demonstrate the skills they have learned through life and work experiences by completing a variety of real world tasks. Programs may include credit for job training and technical skills and working with a mentor to build a portfolio to present to future employers.

The programs have different names in different states. The only program that is not specifically implemented in one state is the National External Diploma Program (NEDP). It is currently available in 9 states: California, New Mexico, Connecticut, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Learn more about the NEDP. Check with your local board of education to determine if any competency based programs are available in your area.

Top 10 Accredited Online High School Diploma Programs

The following accredited schools offer 100% online, credit based paths to a high school diploma and accept credit transfers from other institutions.


  • Private school based in Pennsylvania open to both high school aged students and adults
  • Nationally accredited by Cognia, regionally accredited by Commission on Secondary Schools of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Work at your own pace
  • Offers a high school diploma program or career pathway training in combination with a high school diploma—Automotive, Carpentry, Child Care, Culinary Arts, Early College, Electrical, Healthcare, Information Technology, Pharmacy Technician, Plumbing, and Veterinary Assistant
  • Career planning services
  • Generously accepts transfer credits, tuition is reduced by $30 for each accepted transferred course

Penn Foster is unique because it partners with Career Schools, Colleges and Job Corps programs around the country.  If eligible and accepted by one of these partner schools, tuition for the online high school diploma program may be covered.


  • Part of Smart Horizons Career Online Education, the nation’s first private, accredited online school district
  • Accredited by Cognia/SACS/NCA/NWAC
  • Students earn a career certificate in addition to the high school diploma. Available career paths include General Career Preparation, Office Management, Childcare and Education, Security Professional, and more
  • Additional career preparation through webinars and creation of a Career Portfolio
  • Each student assigned an Academic Coach
  • Military discounts may apply
  • 18 credits for $1,295; payments plans of $77/mo.
  • Accepts transfer credits up to 14 courses

Smart Horizons has amazing community involvement and a dedication to promoting education for all. COHS also partners with libraries around the country to offer free high school programs to adults.


  • Based in Jackson, MS
  • Accredited by Cognia, Mississippi Department of Education and Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Year round, open enrollment
  • $200/course; Total cost for college prep $4,915; Total cost for career path $4,315


  • Based in Norcross, GA
  • Accredited by Cognia, DEAC, and Council for Higher Accreditation (CHEA)
  • Year round, open enrollment
  • Tuition:
    • If no high school credits completed $1,499
    • Completed 9th Grade $1,319
    • Completed 10th Grade $1,139
    • Completed 11th Grade  $989
  • Offers 0% interest monthly payment plans as low as $50/month


  • Based in Bloomsburg, PA
  • Offers Standard Pathway (course by course) or Accelerated Pathway (for students with 12+ transfer credits)
  • 8 week minimum/12 week maximum to complete each course
  • Students typically earn 5-6 credits per year
  • Accredited by Cognia, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Per-course pricing could yield a tuition between $1,800 and $2,800, depending on course load and payment plans


  • Based in Minnetonka, MN
  • Accredited by Cognia/SASC/Northwest Accrediting Commission
  • Standard diploma track is 21.5 to 24 credits
  • Self-paced
  • Generous credit transfer programs
  • Full time is 6 courses/semester
  • Many courses completed within 12 weeks
  • $99.90/month tuition fee for unlimited courses for an Adult High School Diploma


  • Based in Bloomington, IN
  • Offers College Prep and Standard Diploma Pathways
  • Accredited by Cognia
  • Self-paced courses with six months to complete at least one course
  • $231/course currently (Apr 2021), but subject to change at the beginning of each fiscal year


  • Based in Scottsdale, AZ
  • 24 credits invested in a whole program
  • At least 6 credits must be completed at Park City Independent to be applied toward a high school diploma
  • Fully accredited through the Northwest Accreditation Commission
  • Call 888-866-4989 for tuition rates


  • Based in University, MS
  • Accredited by Cognia/SACS/NCA/National Study of School Evaluation (NSSE)
  • Must complete at least 6.25 credits at UMHS to be applied toward a high school diploma
  • $375 per 1 unit course; $250 per ½ unit course


  • Based in Columbia, MO
  • Accredited by Cognia and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation
  • $500/course/semester
  • Permanent Missouri residents and U.S. residents who have been admitted into the Diploma Program may qualify for 50% tuition reduction


Important Thoughts

This post has presented some great options for getting back on track after dropping out of high school. Regardless of the reason(s) why you dropped out, the most important thing to remember is to keep your head up and never forget what's important to you. Although any of these options will take hard work and dedication, the end result will definitely be worth it!


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