LSU gives Louisiana high school students second chance at success

January 29, 2001

Graduating from high school is one of the first major milestones in a young person’s life. Each year LSU helps approximately 1,500 students from 450 Louisiana high schools graduate on time.

“We [LSU] can claim to have the largest high school graduating class in Louisiana,” said Ronald McCrory, director of the LSU Independent Study Program, which operates through the Division of Continuing Education. The program allows students to obtain high school credit by taking correspondence courses through the university.

McCrory said the high school program originally was begun to help U.S. soldiers who had to leave high school to fight in World War II. They were able to continue their education by taking high school courses and mailing course work to the university from Europe, he said.

Today, the correspondence program serves students for a variety of reasons, McCrory said. For example, a student may have an academic deficiency that causes him or her to fail a particular subject, in which case LSU offers that student a second chance to take the class again for credit. McCrory said the program also benefits students who cannot attend school for an extended period of time because of an illness, handicap or injury.

LSU offers students in grades 9 through 12 a chance to take courses in more than 15 different high school subjects including art, computer literacy, English, French, Spanish, mathematics, science and social studies. All courses are fully approved by the Louisiana State Department of Education, and the independent study program is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, McCrory said.

So how exactly does it work? Once a student is referred to LSU by his or her guidance counselor, the student can begin the formal enrollment process. First, all enrollments must be authorized by the school principal or guidance counselor. An application form must then be completed and mailed to the independent study office, along with a fee of $70 per course. Once enrolled, students receive a packet, which includes a study guide that directs students through course material and explains what assignments need to be sent to an instructor.

The program is designed so that students can work at their own pace, McCrory said. A student can take up to nine months to complete a course, though most students typically complete a course within a couple of months. A three-month extension also may be requested if a student anticipates that he or she will not be able to complete course work within the nine-month time frame. Graduating seniors who need extra credits to graduate must enroll in correspondence courses at least two months prior to their high school’s deadline for completion of the course.

Students are responsible for submitting all required lessons before taking examinations, which must be taken at least three weeks prior to the high school’s deadline in to guarantee that grades can be processed and reported in a timely fashion.

McCrory said he strongly recommends that students take examinations only after completing all appropriate course material and only when they feel thoroughly prepared. A final exam will not be administered or mailed until all required lessons have been submitted and accepted. In most cases, final grades are reported within 21 days of course completion, he said.

The awarding of credit for completed course work is based on the Carnegie system, which awards one-half unit of credit for a semester’s worth of work. McCrory said this is typically accomplished by completing one semester in a classroom and the other through correspondence or by taking both semesters by correspondence. Ultimately, a student’s principal must grant earned credit and certify the credit to the Louisiana Department of Education for application toward the student’s graduation requirements.

To make the enrollment and course-participation process more convenient and accessible to students, the independent study office offers most of its services via the Internet. By logging onto StudyNet,, students with access to a computer can submit and check lessons and exam grades and link to academic support sites, without even traveling a mile away from home.

McCrory said even though the study program provides an exceptional opportunity for students to earn credit, it is not intended to replace attending high school. It is designed to be used by certain students as a way of supplementing the traditional high school curriculum, he said.

For more information or to obtain an application form, contact the Office of Independent Study at 800/234-5047 or 225/578-3199.

Contact Info:

Jennifer Melancon

LSU News Service