The 2014 Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) annual conference gave us the opportunity to show how career colleges can enroll high school non-completers and prepare them for success in a post-secondary setting. We hosted a panel discussion, which consisted of Denise Fox Pratt, VP of Institutional Effectiveness at Dorsey Schools, and Gerrit Ketelhut, Penn Foster program facilitator, examined the benefits of the partnership between Dorsey Schools and Penn Fosters High School Completion program by adding a real-life perspective to the proven effectiveness of this blended model. Representing one of the many student success stories was student Nikkiya Gentry, who shared her experience (and stole the show).

The themes that emerged from the panel discussion demonstrate that second-chance learners make excellent students. Eager to make a change, these students often continue their education past high school. Because the High School Completion program gives them the skills and confidence necessary to succeed after graduation, matriculation becomes an inherent next step. During the High School Completion journey, students learn:

1. Persistence

Students like Nikkiya learn at a young age what it means to persevere. These non-traditional learners just need a different type of educational on-ramp that allows them to apply their inner strength and tenacity to their academic goals. Gerrit, the program facilitator, shares the story of a 49-year-old culinary student who took four buses to get to Penn Foster three days a week. She never operated a computer and spent three days sitting next to Gerrit learning how to use one. This level of commitment showcases the persistence and determination these High School Completion graduates possess.

2. Work Ethic

The high school completion program cultivates a great work ethic among these students, starting with their very first achievement. "Once a student earns an A or B grade, they're already attacking the next book and plowing through five lessons," Gerrit said. "Work ethic breeds success and the success makes them go back and work harder," he adds. Achievement elevates their self-esteem and boosts their motivation. They experience the benefits and payoff of hard work.

3. A New Lifestyle

Nikkiya shared how she had to let go of people from her past who were bad influences, and now she has supportive friends who are on the same path as her. In these students' eyes, the high school completion program is an opportunity to create the best versions of themselves; it's a second chance they know they can't afford to waste. Re-engaging students adjust to the routine, rigors and discipline of going to school. They adopt good learning and studying habits and create a new lifestyle around this second chance.

Keep reading for the next three attributes of successful high school completion students.


Hear the rest of Nikkiya's story and how she was able to be a successful High School Completion graduate:

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