To get a high-paying job, you almost always need training or education beyond high school. Yet, a high school diploma itself is nearly obsolete as most employers are looking for college graduates. There’s no reason to put off your college education just because you don’t have a high school diploma or GED. Once you receive a college degree, there’s no reason to list a high school diploma or GED on your resume because its importance is secondary.
Most community colleges and some private colleges will admit you if you don’t have a high school diploma or GED. In order to enroll in community college, you will probably be required to take placement tests so the college will know which courses to place you in. Although most community colleges will allow you to enroll, some will not give you a degree until you earn your GED.
If you don’t have a high school diploma, a GED or its recognized equivalent, such as a California High School Proficiency Exam Certificate, you must fund your education yourself. According to Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, in order to be eligible to receive federal student aid, you must “show you’re qualified to obtain a college or career school education by having a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent such as a General Educational Development (GED) certificate or completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law.”
If you’re still in high school but want to get a head start on college, some high schools have dual-enrollment agreements with their local community college. Under a dual-enrollment agreement, you can enroll in college and earn credit for your high school diploma and college degree at the same time. Many high schools also offer Advanced Placement (AP) classes whereby you can earn credit for comparable college courses if you’re able to pass the AP test at the end of the year.
If you leave high school before acquiring necessary knowledge and skills, you may not be successful in college. If you plan to get a job but haven’t gone to college, most employers consider a high school diploma or GED the minimum qualification. If you later decide to take the GED tests, preparation guides are available online or at your local library. GED preparation classes are also available through most community colleges and adult schools.
- Federal Student Aid: Basic Eligibility Criteria
- New York Times: Can’t Complete High School? Go Right to College
- St. Charles Community College: Students Without a High School Diploma or GED Certification Checklist
- Oakland Community College: High School Dual Enrolled Students
- U.S. Department of State: Choices for High School: IB and AP
Lisa Weinstein is an award-winning, California-based journalist specializing in education. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications. She holds a California English teaching credential and uses her classroom experience to add depth to her writing.