What are the Different Types of High School Programs?

Sheri Cyprus

The different types of high school programs include traditional, distance learning, advanced placement (AP) and job or career placement. Depending on one's location globally, not all of the options may be available to every high school student. Yet overall, today's students have many more choices available in high school programs than in the traditional type of school which was once the only option for many people.

Students have multiple options for high school programs.
Students have multiple options for high school programs.

A traditional high school program could be considered as one that contains a variety of subjects geared to the average student's competency level. This type of high school diploma program is also taught in daytime hours inside a building. All exams are typically taken in the school building. Elective classes such as art or drama are also usually offered to students in traditional high school programs in addition to math, sciences, physical education, language and literature courses.

Many high school programs are geared toward helping students to graduate.
Many high school programs are geared toward helping students to graduate.

Distance learning is considered as a non-traditional way to earn a high school diploma, even though it's becoming more commonplace. Distance learning, or virtual high school programs, is convenient for many students as it allows each individual to work at his or her own basic pace at home using a computer. There are often deadline dates for both assignments and exams though, so students choosing this option have to be motivated or they will likely find it too easy to keep putting off the work. While a distance learning high school program can allow students with family or work obligations to still earn a diploma, some of these programs require taking exams in person at a local school or library. For families choosing to home school their teens, distance high school programs may often be incorporated into their curriculum.

Advanced placement (AP) diploma programs allow students needing more challenging courses than a traditional curriculum offers to start earning first-year college credits. An AP high school program can save the student time in having to complete high school before starting college. To be accepted in an advanced placement program, it's common for students to first have to pass academic tests. Some top colleges and universities offer AP high school programs.

A job or career placement high school program typically involves aptitude and skill testing to help students find their strengths in preparation for the workplace. They also usually study career information and forecasts for labor market trends. Job or career placement high school programs focus on the students gaining workplace skills as well as the necessary academics. They also help place students in entry-level work in fields that may include media, construction, health, automotive, electronics or architecture.

AP classes allow students to take more challenging courses in preparation for college.
AP classes allow students to take more challenging courses in preparation for college.

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Discussion Comments


One of the school systems near where I live has instituted virtual classrooms for problem students who have been expelled from school. This gives the students an opportunity to earn a high school diploma without having them be a distraction for teachers and other students.


When I was in high school I was able to earn college credits by completing advance placement classes. The classes were taught by our high school teachers.

As this article states, more high school advance placement courses are now being coordinated with colleges. I think this is even better than my experience with AP classes since students get a taste of what they can expect once they reach college. These classes are especially beneficial when high school students attend classes on college campuses or participate in a college environment via the computer.


I recently saw a news program examining how the United States school systems are failing students, failing to give them the skills they need to make it in the world as adults. According to the report, the biggest area where the educational system is not meeting the needs of young people is in teaching them practical skills they will need in ordinary day-to-day life.

Basically, the report concluded that schools would be doing students a great service if they taught them how to balance check books, maintain budgets and prepare for life events such as buying houses and having children.

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