5 Signs an Alternative High School is Right for You

If you’ve dropped out of high school but want a new option for earning a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) high school diploma, an alternative school may be right for you.

Alternative schools bear little resemblance to traditional high schools and have helped thousands of students like you earn a CPS diploma.

Don’t worry if you’ve experienced challenging life circumstances that caused you to drop out of school. Don’t worry if you didn’t feel comfortable at your old school, or if the classes didn’t suit you or your style of learning.

If one or more of the following circumstances do fit your situation, then an alternative school deserves serious consideration.

  1. You would benefit from a flexible, part-time school schedule. Most of the students who attend alternative schools have responsibilities that include work or taking care of family members, not to mention the desire to lead a healthy social life. That’s why most alternative schools offer shorter school days, flexible schedules, online classes and one-on-one or small group teaching.
  2. You need a safe, quiet place to study and focus on academics. Alternative schools feature learning environments where there is no drama or distraction—and where there are caring teachers and staffers to help motivate and encourage you.
  3. You’re looking for help to plan for life after high school graduation. At alternative schools, you’ll find adults with the skills and resources to help you achieve academic success, as well as counselors who can expose you to opportunities that will help shape and improve your long-term future. With their guidance, you’ll learn about a wide range of career possibilities, not to mention internship opportunities and additional educational opportunities.
  4. You’re looking for help to secure career and educational opportunities as they present themselves. Counselors and staffers at alternative schools can help you develop a portfolio that includes a résumé, cover letters, letters of interest, and reference letters. You can also get help putting together applications to college or trade schools, or completing employment applications. 
  5. You might benefit from a wide range of counseling services. Many alternative schools provide resources that include mentoring, small group & individual counseling, and mental health services, all of which can help you fully participate in your education and prepare for life after graduation.   

Other Benefits of Alternative Schools

But the benefits don’t end there. Alternative schools also typically offer:

  • Lower student to adult ratios and smaller class sizes, which allow for more personalized attention
  • A wide variety of teaching methods
  • Alternative assessment and evaluation models; written evaluations instead of grades, for example

What School Works Best For You?

If you’re a candidate for the alternative high schools in Chicago, you’re probably old enough to know what kind of academic environment works best for you.

Think about the issues you experienced in your current or past school situation and make a list of qualities you want your new school to have. Then consider whether one or more of the alternative schools in Chicago seem well-equipped to address those issues.

You’ll want to consider cost, too. Many of the high school diploma programs in Chicago are free or low-cost, but some programs are expensive.

Once you’ve finished your research, talk to teachers and staff at any and all schools that seem promising. You may want to sit in on classes and spend a day at the schools you are considering, to get a better sense as to whether you would feel comfortable there.

About Ombudsman Chicago

At Ombudsman Chicago, we offer an alternate route for individuals who have dropped out of high school or have fallen behind in terms of earning a high school diploma.

Ombudsman offers a tuition-free program at four campuses in the Chicago area — Northwest, Roseland, South and West — where students 16-21 have the opportunity to earn a Chicago Public School diploma.  

Ombudsman Chicago offers open enrollment throughout the year and easy transfer of existing credits. All campuses offer flexible schedules with morning and afternoon sessions (as well as evening sessions at Northwest).

Each campus also has its own career development center and post-secondary counselors who help students explore options for life after high school, whether the goal is college, trade school, technical school or joining the workforce.

How to Enroll at Ombudsman Chicago High School

To learn more, call Ombudsman Chicago at (312) 806-9022 and speak with one of our outreach specialists. Or fill out this form to start the enrollment process. A student outreach coordinator will contact you by phone to discuss next steps.