Alternative Education Options for Teens

High school is often considered the only educational option for teenagers, but it’s not for everyone. Some teenagers do much better in an alternative educational environment due to factors such as learning disabilities, special interests, time management problems or past problems with peers. We’ve rounded up several alternatives for you to consider if your teen struggles with the traditional classroom environment.


Homeschooling is a popular alternative to regular schooling for teens who struggle with the social aspect of high school. As the name implies, homeschooled teens learn mostly at home from a combination of tutors, online teachers and parents. While some parents fear that homeschooling may cause their teen to feel isolated, most cities and towns have homeschooling groups that allow teens to socialize and organize field trips together.

Distance Education

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Distance education is similar to homeschooling in that the student learns from home, but parental and tutor involvement is less present. Through distance education, teens work with distance ed teachers and submit assignments by mail or email. This is a great option if your teen is self-motivated or wants to travel while still receiving an education.

Boarding Schools

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Boarding school is an ideal alternative for teens who struggle with motivation and their academics or for those who are very motivated and are looking for a place to excel. Teens who attend boarding school live on campus, which allows them to become fully immersed in a supportive academic environment. Some boarding schools specialize in teens who struggle with learning disabilities or poor behavior while other institutions accept only the highest-performing students in the country.

Alternative High Schools

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Alternative high schools have a very similar structure to regular high schools but have a different focus. Some alternative schools are specifically designed for troubled or addicted youth; they offer extra support and services for teens who find it difficult to succeed in a regular academic setting. Other alternative schools have a specific extracurricular focus and provide teens who excel in the arts, academics or sports an opportunity to learn in an environment that highlights their passions.

The General Education Development Test

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Teens who struggle with any sort of academic environment may find studying for and passing their General Education Development (GED) test a much better alternative than high school. The GED is a high school equivalency test, meaning that once your teen passes their GED, they’re considered to have the equivalent of a high school diploma. The GED is tricky as it encompasses the entire high school curriculum, but it’s a good option for teens who can study independently for a prolonged period of time.

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