Graduating from high school is an important step toward getting into a good college or starting a career.

High school graduates earn thousands more dollars per year than those who did not graduate from high school. Despite this fact, some students drop out of high school before earning their diploma. Just because a high school senior does not have enough credits to graduate does not mean that he needs to drop out. Students can take summer school classes or stay in school for an extra semester to complete their high school education. Other options include online high schools, alternative high schools and earning a General Education Development diploma (GED).

Summer School or Extra Semester

Students may only be 1 credit short of graduating high school and just to make up a few classes. Some seniors choose to attend summer school or stay an extra semester to complete their high school education. High school seniors who do not have enough credits to graduate should talk to their academic adviser about scheduling classes during the summer or during the next semester. Academic advisers in high school are trained to help students stay in school and finish their high school education. Even with guidance counselors, some students still can't complete their credits in time to receive a high school diploma. Illnesses or moves can disrupt the course schedule process.

Alternative High School Diploma

Many alternative schools are available to at-risk students, students thinking about dropping out of high school or students who have already dropped out. Students worried about not graduating high school on time, consider trying an alternative high school as an option for finishing your education. Alternative high school options can include vocational, at-risk studies, private and charter schools. Finding an alternative school can be as simple as speaking with your current high school counselor. Often alternative schools are part of the same school district making a transfer or education continuance easier to pursue.

Online High School Courses

Online high school programs help students finish their high school education from home. If you do not want to go back to high school for an extra semester without your peers, consider an online high school to help you finish courses you need. Great Lakes Academy is one accredited online high school program. Many others like it exist. Make sure that the online high school you choose is accredited.

General Educational Development Diploma

Other options for high school dropouts or students lacking credits for graduation is the General Education Development diploma (GED). The GED is a testing program affiliated with the U.S. government. Students who are older than 16, have not graduated from an accredited high school and are not enrolled in high school are eligible to take the GED. Though the GED is not the same as a high school diploma, it is an attractive option for many students because of the time involved, potential night courses and the ability to complete the program while working.