Wendy Wilson, 24, has worked hard to achieve a career in retail sales, working at various outlets in the Lone Tree area. But, she said, she’s hiding a secret.
“I never graduated from high school,” Wilson said. “I’ve done OK just by working hard and being a good employee, but I’ve always regretted not graduating, and I’m afraid every time I look for a job and have to fill out an application.”
Thanks to a new Douglas County Libraries program, Wilson, and others like her, can earn their high school diplomas through an online program that can be catered to their needs.
The district’s new Career Online High School is an accredited online high school designed to help students over 19. In addition to the high school coursework, students also have access to in-person support and career certification in some areas.
“What’s great about this program is that even though coursework is entirely online, students have access to a personal academic coach who can offer encouragement and guidance as needed through text, email or by phone,” said Tiffany Curtin, adult literacy specialist with the library district.
Like most high schools, the COHS requires students to take elective classes. Students can receive a career certificate, which they can present to future employers, showing they have some background and education in a particular field. Childcare, office management, commercial driving, homeland security and law enforcement are some of the fields students can earn a certificate in.
“As an accredited program, students are able to enter college or go into careers with their diplomas,” Curtin said. “And we know that a lot of people who don’t complete their high school program for a variety of reasons, one of which is they don’t feel connected. We want to make sure every student has the support they need to succeed.”
Students interested in attending COHS need to pass an online self-assessment, prerequisite course and interview, which could qualify them for a grant to complete the program, making the course free. Students must commit to finishing the program within 18 months, and previous high school credits can be transferred.
“Those who don’t qualify for the COHS program are able to take advantage of the library’s high school equivalency prep classes,” Curtin said. “We are happy to discuss all options with potential students to help them on their path to reaching their education goals.”
As for Wilson, the opportunity is one she said she’ll consider.
“I like that it’s online, and that I can still work and go to school at the same time,” she said.
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