High School Diplomas: Methods Versus Benefits, A Case For Online Learning



The value of a high school diploma has been well documented for many many years, and yet, as the world puts increasingly more value on concrete skills in the labor market, there are those who might feel that forgoing a high school diploma, in an effort to enter the workforce sooner, is a better life path.


Certainly, in the short term, and even in some communities, there may be an appeal to this concept, as the notion of gaining more direct experience sooner will yield the best long term career path.  Add to that the reality that many students, in the face of mounting academic pressures, and the ensuing frustration, and many students may feel that a high school diploma is simply not worth the aggravation.  None of that is true of course, but on the surface, one can easily see the initial appeal of the flawed logic. Of course we know, again, the real benefits to having a high school diploma, including better earning potential, and so on, but that does not seem to stop many from at least considering, in an effort to escape all the pressure, abandoning the high school diploma altogether.


But, perhaps, the real issue is not the high school diploma itself, but rather the methodology in which it is pursued.  As a society we are still quite locked in to any number of tired methodologies. We tend to keep with what we know, because it makes sense, or has worked well for us in the past; but, we don’t know what we don’t know, and, in the case of earning a high school diploma, the fact is that we have allowed so many students to get lost in the shuffle, to slip through cracks as it were. Not because they are not capable, but, many times, because we have not allowed for the possibility that the key to their success is not the same as what has been perceived as the key in the past for others.


This is not about learning disabilities, though certainly, there is ample evidence to suggest, for example, that online learning, when executed correctly, can significantly help students overcome any number of disabilities, but rather about differentiation.  The notion of “one size fits all” is not only terribly outdated, it’s irresponsible. Just because we have, generally, as a society, for so long, worked under the assumption that the best way, the only way, to earn a high school diploma, is through a traditional, brick and mortar, institution, does not make it so.


That does not mean brick and mortar are, or should be, finished, but rather that it is not always the best way to ensure a student’s success in pursuit of a high school diploma.  If the goal is really to help the student gain the knowledge and skills – the benefits – of a high school diploma, shouldn’t we be pursuing all methods of ensuring real student success?


The fact is that online schools allow for greater, far easier, and far more cost efficient access to significant and real resources to students pursuing a high school diploma. We owe it to students to see beyond their limitations, self imposed or otherwise, and provide them with every opportunity.  Even if that means changing our methodologies. Is an online school the answer to every high school diploma issue? Of course not. But all evidence suggests that it can be a true and viable solution.

Richard Maxwell

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