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Ashley Atkinson
Editor, Branch Out

Now is the Time to Finish School!

Now is the Time to Finish School!

By Rabinder Singh, Adult Programming Assistant

For many people, receiving their high school diploma is one of the biggest achievements they will experience in their lives. In most cases, people receive this degree during their late teenage years, but, for some, life circumstances can get in the way of finishing school. As of 2022, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that around 8.9% of people living in the United States have less than a high school degree or equivalent. That calculates to about 30 million people.

Fortunately, many organizations offer programs to help adults, who were previously unable to complete their high school degrees or equivalent, achieve this important milestone and pursue their dreams, including your local library!

Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) partners with Career Online High School (COHS), an online high school diploma and workforce readiness certificate program, to provide academic and career preparation classes to eligible cardholders. Since 2018, the library has even offered a limited number of scholarships for adults wishing to participate in the program, allowing them to receive their diplomas at no charge. As of 2023, 10 students have graduated from the program with help from FCPL and five more are currently enrolled.

Who Can Apply?

In order to apply for the COHS program with FCPL, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a Fairfax County resident
  • Be at least 20 years old
  • Have successfully completed eighth grade
  • Have a full-service FCPL library card or be willing to apply for one
  • Have reliable access to a computer and the internet

Getting Started

The first step in applying for the COHS program is to take a short survey to determine if it is right for you. Library staff will review your survey submission and, if you meet the basic requirements, you will be contacted within seven business days to discuss the prerequisite course. This course must be completed within two weeks and participants must receive at least a 70% pass rate to continue with the process.

Upon passing the prerequisite course, you will move forward in the process through the following steps:

  • Schedule an interview with library staff to discuss your application and determine if you are likely to complete the program if awarded a scholarship. Scholarship recipients will be notified within seven business days of their interview.
  • Connect with a COHS-appointed academic coach that will help you get started on your coursework.
  • Complete your coursework within 18 months.
  • Graduate! Don't wait any longer to achieve your dream.

Learn more about this program, access the initial survey and discover how to earn a FCPL scholarship by visiting

Fairfax Virtual Assistant