Going back to school to upgrade or earn those last few diploma credits can mean higher wages, better jobs, and an easier entry to post-secondary programs and apprenticeships. In Alberta, you have several options to help you get your diploma.
Your next version of high school doesn’t have to look like your past experiences. Your choices will depend on your age and what you want to do in the future. And you may be eligible for financial support.
First, have a plan
Before you sign up for classes, think of what you want to do when you finish your high school diploma. Your ideas and dreams are the start of your career plan. Having a plan will help you choose the courses you’ll need for the future you want.
Start putting together your career plan with these resources. They can help you to:
- Figure out what you want to do:
- Visit CAREERinsite.
- Discover career options:
- Watch videos of real people in real occupations.
- Look at occupational profiles that might interest you.
- Learn about education opportunities after high school and explore post-secondary schools and programs.
- Learn the requirements for a high school diploma:
- Read the Government of Alberta’s Graduation requirements, credentials, and credits page.
- Find expert answers to your questions about your career, education, and employment options at Alberta Supports.
Choose how you want to earn your diploma
You have many options for upgrading or finishing high school, so you’ll need to do some research to find the one that’s right for you. You can earn your diploma through:
1. Your local school board
You may want to complete your high school diploma by taking courses at a school in your area. Contact your local school board or zone for more information.
2. A post-secondary school
Are you thinking about a post-secondary program once you have your diploma? Some programs let you complete the high school courses you need and start a post-secondary program in the same semester. Contact a post-secondary school in Alberta to see if they offer this option.
3. A distance learning program
- Find out if distance learning can work for you.
- Check out distance learning options for upgrading.
4. An outreach program
Outreach high school programs are easily accessed and flexible. Their goal is to help you complete your diploma.
Outreach programs typically offer hours, support, and programs that aren’t available in a regular high school setting. Visit the Government of Alberta’s Outreach programs page to find a program in your area.
5. A high school equivalency diploma
You can earn a high school equivalency diploma by using credits you already have or by passing General Educational Development (GED) tests.
Post-secondary institutions offer GED tests and courses to help students prepare for these tests. Adult learning centres also offer GED preparation courses.
Keep in mind that some post-secondary institutions won’t accept high school equivalency courses for admission. If you want to continue your studies, check out the admission requirements on the school’s website, or talk to a school advisor.
Some colleges and technical institutes in Alberta offer their own high school equivalency courses. These courses can qualify you for admission into specified post-secondary programs. However, the courses do not lead to a high school diploma.
Find upgrading and college and university preparation programs.
6. Rewriting or challenging diploma exams
High school students may wish to improve their course mark by rewriting their diploma exam, which is worth 30% of their mark. Adults who are 20 years of age and older can challenge a diploma exam. They do not need to attend classes. Their exam mark will count as 100% of their course mark.
Explore whether you qualify for financial support
Publicly funded high school is free for Albertans who are 19 years old or younger as of September 1 of the current school year.
You may qualify for financial support to help you finish high school if you are:
- In care or have been in care, even if you haven’t been in recent contact with your caseworker. Call the Children's Services office closest to you for help.
- Over 18 years old and have been out of school for a full year. Contact Alberta Supports for assistance.
- Planning to finish high school at a post-secondary institution. Talk to a high school counsellor for more information.
- Hoping to take a post-secondary program once you complete high school. Talk to a counsellor about funding for your high school and the post-secondary programs.
- Thinking of a distance learning program. Ask about a Skills Investment Bursary. The bursary can cover the entire cost of a course, including tuition, course materials, and taxes.
- From the Northern Alberta Development Council region. Learn about the Council's bursaries that help students make a successful transition to post–secondary training.
All adult learners can apply for funding for education or upgrading. Full-time students can qualify for Learner Income Support, and part-time students are eligible for the Skills Investment Bursary.
Your path to upgrading or finishing high school may not look like the next person’s. Don’t worry. Not everyone learns in the same way or at the same pace. The key is to move forward into the future that you want.