With online services in libraries growing more popular by providing students with out of classroom learning resources, adults lacking a high school or equivalent degree are also offered the opportunity to receive high school diplomas and credentialed career certificates through online high school programs.
Initiatives such as Career Online High School, a program introduced to public libraries by Gale (part of Cengage Learning), are specifically tailored to bring back such adults into the education system and ready them for reinjection into post-secondary career education or the workforce. The program has been instituted in Long Branch city of New Jersey, through the Long Branch Free Public Library, and aims to re educate about 15 percent of unqualified adults over 25 years old within the city limits.
The program awards scholarships for qualified learners interested in advancing their careers. Enrolled students are teamed up with an Academic Coach focused on preparing an individual career plan, provide guidance and support, analyze and evaluate performance, and bridge the learner to required sources needed to be proficient with the course syllabus. Online resources are available 24/7 and the classes are supervised by board certified instructors. The web-based coursework given stems from one of the eight high-growth, high-demand career fields (across a wide spectrum from child care and education to certified transportation), prior to moving on to the core academic subjects.
Enrolled students can graduate in 4 to 6 months after transfer of previously earned high school credits. Basic requirements for library access include a minimum 19 years of age and completion of ninth grade. Scholarship applicants need to display their high school transcripts, which is used to tailor an individual curriculum to fill in the missing credits.
Mary Chute, New Jersey State Librarian, has lauded such programs as Career Online High School as excellent advancements in digital education.
“This innovative project is the latest step in the transformation of public libraries in the digital age into full-fledged community resources. New Jersey’s libraries are committed to supporting the development of a well-educated and well-trained workforce, which will enable New Jersey’s employers to compete in the global market.”
Online high schools have offered individuals from low income or other difficult backgrounds a chance to redeem their education, especially through their hundred percent scholarships, writes Jonathan Lai of Philly.com.
A student who has received the benefits of this initiative is Angel Rodriguez, a resident of Camden city, New Jersey. A drop out of Camden High in 2010, Rodriguez struggled with a low paying job to support his disabled mother and himself, due to his lack of credentials. After Camden County Library System started offering limited number of full-tuition scholarships to Career Online High School, Rodriguez re enrolled himself into the program and is studying towards a genuine high school diploma.
“When I received the full scholarship, I was just crying because I was just so excited I didn’t have to pay for school,” Rodriguez said. “This is a second chance at life. This is a better chance at life for my mother and me, and to say I actually accomplished something with my life.”
The program has also been employed in correctional facilities such as the FDOC Online Campus of the Florida Department of Corrections. Partnered with Smart Horizons Career Online Education, the program aims to prevent offenders from returning to prison. Inmates enrolled in the program complete a career certificate which ensures they graduate with vocational skills that make them eligible for jobs after release.