Delma Davila knew that finishing high school was a necessary step to reach her career goals, but she needed the right program to fit her lifestyle. As a busy mom and stepmom of two active boys, she sought a school that would offer her flexibility to work toward her education while still having time to watch her kids.

She found that balance of work and home by earning her high school diploma from Career Online High School (COHS) offered through Smart Horizons Career Online Education (SHCOE). COHS enables students to prepare for a career through a dual online high school diploma and certificate program.

This innovative approach to gaining a high school diploma is accomplished via online courses, which are complemented with support from academic teachers in a classroom setting or “learning lab” located at a SHCOE-partnered career college. The COHS learning lab offers both academic assistance and access to computers. Delma benefitted from the blend of onsite resources and an online learning experience.

“I had my son every other week, so one week I would work in class and the other work from home,” said Delma. “While both kids were running around, I still worked on my studies.”

Since COHS provides an online academic coach as well as an onsite facilitator at the career college, she had plenty of motivational support. Delma especially appreciated the encouragement she received from her onsite academic teacher.

“She was really on me about it,” she said. “It was a good thing. I loved her.”

Financially, COHS also appealed to Delma since it was more cost-effective than attempting to complete her GED.

“I was thinking about going for my GED, but I was scared that I was going to fail and then have to pay more money to try and pass it,” she said. “It was easier to do COHS.”

Although Delma had completed all of her high school credits in 2008, she had struggled to pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), a requirement for graduation in the state of Florida.

“I had all of my credits, but didn’t pass the reading part of the FCAT so I graduated with my certificate, not my diploma,” she said.

She was happy to find that all of her credits from her previous high school studies were accepted at COHS, which allows students to transfer in credits from other accredited institutions. Students must complete the career course portion of the program, in addition to any high school credits they are missing, in order to earn a career certificate and high school diploma.

Through SHCOE partnerships with career colleges, students can seamlessly receive their high school diploma and enter into post-secondary career programs without having to switch schools.

After graduating with her diploma in August, she began the Patient Care program at the career college at which she had completed COHS. She hopes to get a job at a hospital and eventually achieve her ultimate goal: a career in Radiology.

Most importantly, Delma wanted to prove to herself and her loved ones that she could achieve her career goals while staying focused on being a mom. “I just wanted to go to school, really, and finish,” she said. “I wanted to prove to a lot of people that I could do it.”

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