Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Former Students Realize Online Education Can Help Them Get Ahead in Tight Economy

/USNewswire/ -- Teen pregnancy, poverty, discipline problems, and boredom. The reasons for high school dropout are many, and rarely spur of the moment. Moreover, according to a recent speech by President Obama, this translates to more than 3,300 American youth dropping out of high school every day.

Dropout is most common following a long process of disengagement and academic struggle. These students have run out of motivation and have minimal support or encouragement in school or at home.

Sadly, for many, it's the start of a trend that will follow them for life. Without a high school diploma, they will have a harder time finding a job, and they will earn much less when they do find one. They are more prone to health issues, living in poverty, and having children at an early age, who in turn have a higher propensity to drop out of high school themselves.

Today, high school dropouts earn about $10,000 less each year compared to workers with diplomas, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, in today's economy, the employment chain has changed dramatically, threatening these lower rungs of the earning ladder. Many jobless baby boomers find themselves competing for jobs with college graduates and undergraduates, while college students are competing with high school students and dropouts. March unemployment figures from the federal Bureau of Labor show that unemployment was 13.3% among people 25 and older with less than a high school diploma, compared to 8.5% overall.

Online Education Offers Hope for the Future

While many teen dropouts eventually go back to school to get their diploma and then on to earn a college degree, going back comes at a price. With the window for state-funded schooling closed, returning students now must make the sacrifice to go to school as a working adult and pay tuition.

The good news is that there are ways to obtain a high school education without spending a lot of money. Online education schools such as Ashworth High School, whose online high school program is regionally accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), recently became even more affordable this summer by reducing tuition on its general, college preparatory and vocational programs by as much as 35%.

"Education is an essential part of our country's DNA," said Gary Keisling, Ashworth President and CEO. "With approximately 1.2 million drop outs annually, we're committed to making high school accessible and affordable when these former students are ready to study again."

"Not only is our tuition as much as 55% less than other online high schools, when you account for any transfer credits and the elimination of expenses such as transportation and child care, a student saves even more," Keisling added. He also went on to explain that another benefit of studying online is the added advantage of a self-paced curriculum which can be arranged around full-time jobs and/or family obligations.

The Sloan Survey of Online Learning Report states that online education has increased by over 16% in the past three years, and growth is projected to continue, as the benefits become widely known.

Let the Student Beware: Accreditation vs. a Diploma Mill

According to Dr. F. Milton Miller, Ed.D. and Ashworth College Vice President of Education, students who do a little homework to learn about accreditation can have peace of mind that their education will be respected by employers. "Employers often want proof that applicants have the right credentials, and one of the most important things they look for is a diploma from an accredited school," he said.

When seeking out an online high school, one needs to make sure the institution is accredited. Dr. Miller advises, "if you want your diploma to be accepted by employers and other schools, your best bet is to enroll in a school where the accrediting body is approved by the Department of Education." Dr. Miller cautions "diploma mills will either openly sell degrees for cash or pretend to be legitimate. Sadly, many students 'graduate' from these diploma mills thinking they have earned a real degree."

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