The high school’s structured system designs a linear march through. Uninterrupted, most students will have all the classes they need to graduate. Of course, not all student experiences are predictable or uninterrupted. Many students miss or fail classes due to events and stress in their life. Even after normalcy returns, you still need to recover those class credits required for graduation.

The key is to build a class-credit recovery plan. To graduate on-time or with minimal delay, you will need to strategize your time in and out of school. There are classes you need to take in-order and classes you can stack. You also don’t have to plan the entire credit-recovery during school hours. Most high schools don’t mention the option, but outside-school resources earn the credits needed. The minimum requirements to graduate may also be lower than the curriculum recommended. Any high schooler can build an effective plan to recover their class credits.

Determine the Credits You Really Need

Start by getting down to the bare-bones of graduation requirements. If you can’t fit all your credits into your semesters-to-graduation, make a list of the credits you do need and build a plan to earn them at a rapid pace.

Required vs Recommended Credits

Many schools have recommended curriculum, but students don’t need all of it to graduate. You may be able to cut extracurriculars and other non-core classes to make room for your recovery classes. Be frank with your counselor and talk about minimum state-mandated classes to graduate. If there’s room, you can add the experiential classes back in.

Credits That Must Be In-Order

Some core classes require an order, usually Math, English, and History. Some schools have ways to let you take these classes in a rush or concurrently, but often summer is the only solution for classes that require your entire allotment of high school semesters to finish in-order.

Find out what these classes are and list them to find a summer and/or online source for the credits.

Graduation Diploma vs Ceremony

Insider Tip: Be ready to say “forget the ceremony”. Many schools have rules about who walks across the stage, but you don’t need a ceremony to earn your highschool diploma and start the next phase of your life. If your only concern is graduating in a timely fashion, skip the cap and gown walk.

Class Credits You Can/Must Earn in School

From the list of classes you just built, circle the ones that you are required to take in-school (that list is pretty short) and those you’d prefer to take in school for the experience or company of peers. These are the classes that will gain priority in your semester class schedule and attend in-class with your classmates at the school’s usual pace.

Class Credits Earned through Extracurricular Programs

The next category is to identify classes you can earn with outside programs. Your PE requirements, science, computers, “electives” and even some traditionally core classes can be earned in learning programs outside of school. In most areas, schools will acknowledge outside sports, training, and athletic clubs as a PE credit, especially for students working hard to earn an on-time graduation. Combine an afterschool sport with an online class and that’s two more credits you can earn each semester without much-disturbing your highschool-student lifestyle.

Summer and Online Classes for Credits

The next category are classes you can take care of during the summer and remotely online. Summer courses are ideal for in-order classes that must be completed after one required class and before another requirement. Both summer and online courses work well for non-core lessons that are completed based on your schedule.

Online lessons often make it possible to learn in any space of time that is free. Some lessons are automated, while others are guided by an online teacher.

Transitioning to Online Classes

Your final option is for students who aren’t concerned with walking the stage or sitting in class with peers. If your school schedule was thrown off, learning at your own pace may be faster than learning in a high school classroom setting. As someone nearing adulthood, you can choose to transition to fully online or alternate learning. The right courses will let you take on classes, learn the material, and test to completion at your own pace. With one-on-one learning, you can even keep the benefit of teacher-guided classes without slowing down.

Making Your Class Credits Count Toward Graduation

Are you planning a come-back after a rough year in high school? Credits lost in the chaos can be reclaimed if you build a plan. Find what you can and must complete during your in-school classroom time and what you can tackle online at your own pace. With online learning and summer programs, you can graduate on-time or only one year delayed.

Here at Tenney School, we offer dedicated one-on-one online teaching for students in middle and high school grades. Our courses range from credit core recovery to gifted and talented – and you can access it all. If you are interested, we’d be glad to help you build a credits recovery plan and get your high school graduation back on track.