118-Year-Old Distance Ed School Goes Online
After a 118-year history of delivering traditional
correspondence courses for students working toward their
high school diplomas,
School has moved recently into providing similar online
It started in late March by introducing a new set of
traditional paper-based courses in which the exams can be taken online.
American School now has more than 50 paper-based courses with the online
American School President Gary R. Masterton said this
approach to learning is comforting to students because "they know their
have been received and can expect quicker turnaround time than if they
their exams in the mail."
Then, early in April, the American School introduced
general high school program, for students who want to earn a high school
diploma and enroll in a two-year college, and a college preparatory
for those who want a high school diploma and to enroll in a four-year
or professional school.
"This is a watershed moment in American School’s
said of the online programs.
Each program requires 18 units of credit. The general
school program has 12 required courses and six electives, while the
preparatory program calls for 13 required courses and five electives —
which are now available online.
Both programs require a mix of English, social
science and study skills courses. The college preparatory program has
additional math and science requirements.
On April 16, the American School added to the list of
potential online electives that moves beyond the original business,
technical courses to now include subjects like creative writing,
literature and international business.
American School, one of the oldest nonprofit distance
institutions, offers diploma programs and individual courses for
students. A four-year, 18-unit online college preparatory program costs
or $900 a year. Individual unit courses, which typically take a full
to complete, are $250.
Masterton said the American School would continue to
paper-based courses for those who prefer that approach.
"We know that many students will be excited to earn
diplomas online," he said, "but, at the same time, we know that many
prefer to learn through more traditional means such as reading a book
mailing us their exams."
Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.