Harris County Public Library recently hosted a full, traditional graduation ceremony for some rightfully proud graduates of its Career Online High School program, many of whom took quite non-traditional paths to their diplomas. Each graduate, in cap and gown, walked across the stage to be presented with their diploma by library and county leaders, and of course, there was a joyful cap toss at the end!
During the height of the pandemic, HCPL suspended such gatherings, but felt--when the time was right--it had to bring all the graduates together to celebrate and more importantly be celebrated by their proud families and friends.
Harris County Public Library and Smart Horizons have partnered up to provide adults in Harris County with an amazing opportunity to help them achieve their dreams for a brighter future. They provide residents within the county, over the age of 19 and with an HCPL library card, the opportunity to a free and fully accredited high school diploma. If an adult wasn't able to finish high school or attain a GED, this program can truly be life-changing.
Career Online High School is set up to help students achieve. Each student is assigned an academic coach who offers ongoing support and will connect their students with instructional help whenever it's needed. The program is offered entirely online 24-7. The students get to choose a schedule that works for them so they can dedicate their time to their schoolwork when it's appropriate for their schedule.
The program is self-directed but is designed for students to commit 8-10 hours a week to their schoolwork and to be able to complete each credit within a month. On average, students complete the program within 12 months but are provided up to 18 months to complete it.
The program consists of a total of 18 hours of high school credits. If a student has some high school credits already, they can transfer those credits and apply them toward the program. Doing so allows them to cut out some of the classes and time it would take to be able to finish the program. Not only do the students of COHS earn their high school diploma, but they also receive a certification in their chosen career path. The career path certifications available to them are the following:
- General Career Preparation
- Office Management
- Child Care and Education (CDA)
- Home Care Professional
- Security Professional
- Food and Hospitality (CPFM)
- Commercial Driving (CDL)
- Hospitality and Leisure
- Retail Customer Service
- Introduction to Manufacturing
The program also helps the students create a career portfolio containing job documents and cover letters to help their students when applying for jobs after graduation. COHS wants its students to succeed not only when they're in the program but also to help them utilize what the program has provided them with once it's completed.
Celebrating Achievement with Family & Friends
The entire graduation was a beautiful event. You could feel the happiness of the graduates; you could see in their family and friends' faces how proud they were of their loved ones for walking across the stage. There was a student speaker, Regina Miles, who provided a very moving speech that touched the hearts of everyone in the room. She spoke about the importance of receiving her high school diploma, not only for her but for her son. She said she did it so he could see that getting an education and graduating high school is something that he's capable of doing too. Since finishing the COHS program, she's received her associate's degree and is now on her way to Sam Houston State University to receive a bachelor's degree in Psychology. One thing she made note of is how important mental health is along the journey of life. What was clear to me at the graduation was that each COHS student understood that their success and well-being in life will make an impact on those around them.
After the ceremony, students were interviewed by HCPL on their experience with Career Online High School and provided with a free Chromebook from the library. When interviewed, student Eckle Eugene said, "I feel so excited! There's nothing I can't do. I accomplished a big goal." She was asked how Harris County Public Library helped her on her journey and she said, "Harris County has been a great help to me and my family." It was heartwarming to see the support and resources Harris County Public Library has to offer that can make a beneficial difference in the lives of the residents in our community.
Connect with HCPL and COHS
If you or anybody you know are thinking about finishing your high school education, Career Online High School is an accredited program with a proven model for student success. More information is available at FAQs – Harris County Public Library (careeronlinehs.org)
Ready to get started? Sign up for Career Online High School by contacting HCPL's Adult Literacy Coordinator.