The General Equivalency Diploma test measures whether test takers have mastered the same skills as high school graduates. GED test scores are accepted at most vocational/technical schools, colleges and universities. Some critics argue that the GED test does not alter an adult student's future, while others say that passing the GED is a stepping stone for an adult to the world of higher education and entry-level jobs in the workforce.
The GED is a Good Option for Out-of-School Adults
For adults who have been out of school for 10 years or more and can no longer attend high school, the GED is a good option, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Adult education classes allow those adults who dropped out of school a chance to return, brush up on skills they either don't remember or didn't learn, and then take the test. For these adults, the Post-Gazette says, the test may take a considerable amount of time to pass -- but once they do, they can further their education. Some adults who pass the GED go on to community college, then to a four-year college.
The GED May Not be the Best Alternative for Out-of-School Youth
As NPR reports, for out-of-school youth who are under the age of 18, it may be better for them to return to school rather than take the GED. Studies have shown that many companies view a younger prospective employee with a GED as someone who couldn't stay and finish a goal. In other words, they didn't show perseverance -- a quality that many entry-level employers are looking for. There are adult high schools and alternative high schools available for students who do not fit into the traditional high school mold, either because the traditional school hours don't accommodate their other responsibilities or because they need a different model. Online high schools are an option, but check their accreditation before signing up.
GED and Success in College
According to Jobs for the Future, successful college students practice behaviors that many GED graduates do not. These behaviors include study habits, knowledge of the college's inner workings, academic knowledge and skills, and habits of mind. If the GED graduate doesn't have these behaviors, Jobs for the Future suggests that adult education programs set up a mentoring program to help GED students transition from the GED test to preparing for college. A study done of Kentucky community college students may confirm the need for a transition program for GED graduates. GED graduates needed remedial classes in Kentucky technical schools at a higher rate than high school graduates, although the study noted that both groups needed remediation at a fairly high rate.
GED and Career Success
Many GED test takers have gone on to have successful careers. According to Operation GED, comedian Chris Rock got his GED, then went on the parody the GED test as a "Good Enough Diploma." Danica Patrick is a NASCAR driver with a GED. Rap singer 50 Cent got his GED while serving time for crack possession. Dave Thomas, the founder of the Wendy's fast-food franchise, dropped out of high school to work at 15, then went back to earn his GED 45 years later. That said, Census Bureau data shows that GED earners typically make less money than those students who graduate from high school. However, GED graduates make more many than students who did not graduate from high school.
Lori Garrett-Hatfield has a B.J. in Journalism from the University of Missouri. She has a Ph.D. in Adult Education from the University of Georgia. She has been working in the Education field since 1994, and has taught every grade level in the K-12 system, specializing in English education, and English as a Second Language education.