High School Credit Recovery for Adults: How does it works?

A high school degree has become the bare minimum requirement in today’s world, whether it is in the educational sector or the job market. More and more people are focused on completing their high school degrees whether it is in the traditional way or through equivalency exams such as GED, HiSET, CHSPE, etc. 

Despite this, there can be several reasons why someone may not be able to complete high school. As per research[1], around 1 million students fail to complete traditional high school or earn an equivalent diploma every year. The USA has a national dropout rate of 5.9% with the percentage being larger for economically disadvantaged groups. 

This is when high school credit recovery programs come into question. It is specifically designed to help adults who did not complete their high school education or have fallen behind in their coursework to earn a high school diploma. These programs offer a flexible and supportive learning environment tailored to the needs of adult learners.

By adults, we mean people who are 16 or older and are not enrolled in any public or private educational institution. The course structure is designed by the state and you earn an adult high school diploma. 

In this guide, we will be telling you all about high school credit recovery for adults. 

Key features

The key features of a high school credit recovery program for adults include:

1. Credit recovery

Credit recovery for adults refers to a program or set of strategies designed to help adults who did not complete their high school education or have gaps in their academic records. They are allowed to recover credits needed to earn a high school diploma through a highly tailored approach. 

Usually, adult learners start with an assessment to identify the specific credits they need to recover. The content of the assessment varies from state to state. Also, the high school credits you earned all those years ago also count and can be added to your current score. 

2. Flexible schedule

Credit recovery programs for adults often offer flexible scheduling options to accommodate work, family, and personal commitments. This may include evening classes, weekend sessions, or online courses.

In most cases, institutions provide the credit recovery program themselves but if your previous school does not, there are several non-profit or private organizations that provide it. 

3. Personalized courses

Adults select the specific courses they need to retake or complete to earn the required credits. These courses can include core subjects (e.g., math, English, science, social studies) and sometimes elective courses. While the syllabus may vary, it usually covers these areas:

  • English
  • Science
  • Math
  • Social studies
  • Physical Education
  • Art 
  • Electives (e.g.: sociology, psychology, life skills, etc.)

Adult learners also receive individualized support and instructions to help them pass the exam. This involves counseling, tutoring, etc. 

4. Highly qualified tutors

As per research[2], regular classroom teachers are most commonly employed to deliver credit recovery courses, but trained tutors can also be employed, especially by online course providers. When hiring for adult credit recovery programs, institutions are mindful of hiring qualified professionals who have experience catering to adults. 

5. Learn at your own pace

Credit recovery programs are particularly designed for adults keeping in mind their commitments and work schedules. As such, they allow adults to work at their own pace. This self-paced approach is particularly beneficial for individuals who are slow learners and need extra time to grasp certain concepts or accelerate their progress. Generally speaking, you are expected to dedicate three to four hours per day to meet the demands of your course. 

Benefits of high school credit recovery programs

There are several reasons why adults choose to complete their high school diploma. In today’s job market, it is impossible to get a well-paying job without at least having a high school degree. As such, high school credit recovery programs are of tremendous help. 

Here are a few benefits:

1. Career advancement

Getting a high school degree allows you to further your career as it opens several doors. You can pursue additional summer courses, opt to study more, and eventually gain a strong foothold in the job market. 

2. Further educational opportunities 

Earning a high school diploma through a recovery program opens doors to post-secondary education opportunities, including community college, vocational training, and career certification programs.

3. Achieving personal goals 

For many adults, completing their high school education is a personal goal that brings a sense of achievement and self-worth. It empowers adults to improve their lives and strive for excellence and fulfillment, no matter their age. 

Program options 

High school credit recovery programs for adults come in various forms to accommodate different needs and schedules:

1. Online programs

Online programs are incredibly flexible, allowing adults to complete their coursework from anywhere. It saves traveling costs and allows them to access courses after work hours. Besides, the courses are well designed, and experienced tutors are hired in order to create a virtual academy. 

2. Evening offline classes

When it comes to high school recovery programs for adults, evening classes are a popular choice. It is a convenient option for individuals who work during the day or have family commitments. 

Since these classes take place after regular working hours, it is easier for adult learners to attend without conflicting with their jobs. Besides, these classes are usually held at easy-to-access locations such as local high schools, community centers, etc.

3. Hybrid programs 

Combining online and in-person instruction, hybrid programs provide the benefits of both flexibility and face-to-face interaction. Adult learners get the chance to attend physical classes at designated locations while being able to access resources online. In addition, they can also complete their assignments online. 

How high school credit recovery works: A step-by-step guide

1. Evaluation

At first, you will have to sit for an examination that will determine the specific credits needed for graduation. You don’t have to enroll in the entire program but opt for particular courses which are determined by this evaluation. 

The entire course is divided into several subjects and each subject has subsets. Through pre-testing, you can avoid having to deal with the entire course and can master those subjects where you fall behind. 

2. Formulating a personalized learning plan

Based on the assessment, a personalized learning plan is developed for each adult learner. This plan outlines the courses and credits required for graduation and serves as a roadmap for their academic journey.

The program contains core subjects such as English, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Having a personalized lesson plan allows you to navigate through these subjects with ease, studying only what is necessary for you to earn the diploma. 

3. Mode of learning

Choose your mode of learning – hybrid, online, or offline. This depends on your commitments and professional requirements. However, whichever mode you opt for, make sure that the course provider is accredited. The degree only holds value if you get it from an accredited institute. 

4. Continuous assessment

Make sure to be up-to-date with your course work as your progress is regularly tracked through continuous assessment. This ensures that you know the areas where you need to work and can dedicate more time and energy to it. 

5. Credit retrieval

Successful completion of coursework allows adult learners to retrieve the credits needed for graduation. However, before this, you need to pass all exams and submit the assignments. Once you have got the scores necessary to clear the course, you can earn the credits you had previously lost and get the high school diploma. 

Challenges faced by adult learners 

It is true that high school credit recovery programs offer immense benefits, but adult learners may face challenges such as:

1. Management of time

As adults, you may have prior commitments, be it familial or professional. High school courses are rigorous and demand both time and attention. So, one of the most common difficulties people face is time management. 

If you are struggling with managing your time, opt for an online course as it doesn’t require you to travel and you can learn at your own pace. To learn how to manage time effectively, go through our comprehensive guide on popular time management activities.

2. Lack of motivation

Some adults may find returning to high school quite demotivating and may view it as a step back. However, this is not the case. Completing your high school diploma opens the doors to numerous opportunities and gives you a more holistic view of the world. Set clear goals, stay focused, and look at the bigger picture. 

3. Technological barriers

Adults who are returning to the education field after a gap may find it difficult to adjust to the latest changes that have come into the curriculum. One such change is the extensive use of technology. 

There are programs that provide technological assistance along with the course and the tutors they hire are trained to deal with adult learners. So, rest assured you will get plenty of help. 


High school credit recovery programs for adults are the best way for them to achieve a diploma and ensure overall growth. While there can be several reasons why you couldn’t complete your high school the traditional way, this program gives you a second chance to do so. It allows you to fulfill your educational dreams and further your career without needing to forego your personal responsibilities or professional commitments.

With a flexible schedule, dedicated support, and various program options, adults can overcome challenges and complete their high school education, thereby embarking on a wonderful journey. From better job prospects to further education – completing your high school will certainly push you towards a bright future, full of possibilities.


  1. Blueprint for Accountability Systems for Alternative High Schools. (2018, June 15). Center for American Progress. https://www.americanprogress.org/article/blueprint-accountability-systems-alternative-high-schools/
  2. U.S. Department of Education. (2018). Issue Brief: Credit Recovery. www2.ed.gov. https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/high-school/credit-recovery.pdf

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