Career Online High School Pilot Program: Frequently Asked Questions
Career Online High School (COHS) is an accredited online high school diploma and career certification program provided by Gale, a part of Cengage Learning. Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) is working in support of public libraries to make COHS available to Illinois residents across the state. The public libraries listed on this site will offer free enrollment to a limited number of qualified adult students within their service areas.
Adults who are at least 21 years old and wish to earn their high school diplomas can apply to COHS. Minors should pursue their high school education through existing high school programs.
Program applicants must live within the jurisdiction of a library participating in the program .
Enrollment is limited and demand is expected to be high. Prospective students must successfully complete an online self-assessment. Once the self-assessment is completed, prospective students will be contacted by their libraries and if they are eligible will be given a link to a two-week prerequisite course. Those who pass the prerequisite course with a score of 70% or above within a two-week period will then be interviewed in person by their libraries to determine if they will receive a scholarship. Successful completion of the prerequisite course does not guarantee a scholarship will be awarded.
Students will be given up to 18 months to complete the program, which will consist of 18 credits. Students accepted into the program may transfer up to 14 credits from their former high schools. If you are awarded a scholarship to enroll in the program, you may request transcripts from any high school you attended and have them sent to the Career Online High School registrar. The registrar will review your transcripts and apply credits for any coursework completed that fulfills the transfer requirements. Depending on how many credits a student is able to transfer, the program can be completed in as few as 5 months.
We recommend that students dedicate 8-10 hours per week to their coursework. Students enrolled in COHS are assigned an academic coach who will keep them on track. You’ll also be provided with a pace guide that will help you move through the program, by completing one credit every two weeks.
Courses are self-paced and taught in an online learning environment, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Your academic coach will connect you with one of the COHS instructors, who will provide you with additional academic support, when needed. Your library may also offer support.
No. This is not a high school equivalency examination. Successful graduates will earn a high school diploma and an entry-level career certification through an accredited high school.
While both the GED or other high school equivalency examinations and the high school diploma are important, there are several differences between them. Among the most significant is the fact that some colleges, institutions, and organizations require a high school diploma and may not accept the GED or equivalent. In addition to providing a high school diploma, COHS gives students the benefit of earning a career certificate and completing additional job preparation documents and training.
A GED or General Equivalency Diploma requires you to pay for an exam. Preparing for the exam can also have costs and it does not always provide you with the same learning opportunities gained through completing coursework. Additionally, COHS gives you the added benefit of earning a career certificate and developing a career portfolio.
We encourage you to make the decision that is right for you. Research all of your options so that you can make an informed decision. Also, you may want to speak with your local library, friends, family, and employer about the opportunities available to you.
Through COHS, students may earn a certificate in the following areas:
- Certified Protection Officer
- Child Care and Education
- Commercial Driving
- Food and Hospitality
- General Career Preparation
- Homeland Security
- Office Management
- Retail Customer Service
While we provide you with all of the coursework needed to qualify for a childcare certification, you will need to find a local agency in your community to fulfill the hands-on training hours required. Your library may be able to assist.
To arm you with the tools you need to find a job, we will teach you to create essential documents, such as your resume and a cover letter. All students must complete this.
Yes. But for the in-person interview prior to receiving a scholarship (see How It Works), you will be required to visit your library.
You must use a desktop or laptop. A smart phone, tablet or iPad will not support the learning management system. If you do not have access to a desktop or laptop, your library can help.
Yes. At this time, all coursework is available in English only.
No. You may, however, need to borrow novels from the library, or purchase them, for the language arts course.
Students will be given up to 18 months to complete the program, which will consist of 18 credits. Students accepted into the program may transfer up to 14 credits from their former high schools. Depending on how many credits a student is able to transfer, the program can be completed in as few as five months.
COHS was founded in early 2010 and accredited as the world’s first online private school district in February 2011. Since February 2012, approximately 6,200 students have enrolled in the program with a retention rate of approximately 66% to 72%.
Career Online High School is accredited by the AdvancED Accreditation Commission, the national commission that confers the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), and the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC) accreditation seals.
This means that the Smart Horizons Career Online Education district and all of its schools are accredited, and that Smart Horizons Career Online Education is recognized across the nation as a quality school system, delivering an AdvancED/SACS/NCA/NWAC accredited online high school diploma.
AdvancED provides nationally recognized accreditation for school districts and individual schools and represents 32,000 public and private schools and districts across the United States and in 70 countries worldwide, educating 20 million students. Learn more about the District Accreditation Process at www.advanc-ed.org.
The prevalence of online “diploma mills” and counterfeit degrees has unfortunately created some skepticism around the legitimacy of diplomas from online institutions. Career Online High School is NOT a diploma mill. Career Online High School is accredited by the AdvancED Accreditation Commission, the national commission that confers the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), and the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC) accreditation seals.
While Career Online High School itself is a new institution and may not immediately be familiar by name, it is easy to demonstrate that the school is recognized across the nation as a quality school system, delivering an AdvancedED accredited online high school diploma. It is important to understand that a high school diploma alone (from any type of accredited high school), is not enough to guarantee a student admission into a college or university, as each postsecondary institution has its own minimum standards including admissions exams, standardized test scores and other criteria.
Career Online High School is committed to the success of its graduates as they advance into the workplace or post-secondary education and training. Any alumni of the COHS program who has questions about their transcripts or meeting college admissions requirements may call 1-888-408-5783 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for support.
Yes, all COHS instructors are state certified. Most of the academic coaches and academic instructors are located in Florida. Office hours are 8 am to 5 pm Central Time; however, coaches have evening hours twice a week and the hours will likely be expanded.
Coaches/instructors are not exclusively assigned to specific libraries. Each student’s assigned academic coach will welcome the student initially and then reach out at least once every two weeks – and more often for students needing additional assistance.
Your library is committed to helping people meet their education and job preparation needs. You are encouraged to visit your nearest branch and speak to the staff to help you find a local agency or resource that will best fit your needs.
Ask your library about the following services: online learning resources; GED preparation; career preparation; and adult literacy programs
Complete an online self-assessment. After you have successfully finished the self-assessment, you will be contacted by your library within 5 business days to discuss the prerequisite course. Upon successful completion of the course, you will be contacted again by your library within 5-7 business days to schedule an interview and discuss your application into the program.