Today’s job market often requires education beyond a high school diploma. A high school diploma is no longer an endpoint, but stepping stone to further education. To get ahead, today’s high school graduates often enter college, technical or trade school, or join the military. But what if you don’t have a high school diploma, but a general education diploma or GED?
According to GED Testing Service, “about 95 percent of U.S. colleges and universities accept GED graduates in the same manner as high school graduates.” GED graduates also qualify for federal student aid. Like high school graduates, GED holders need to complete any required admissions tests such as the ACT, SAT, or other placement and achievement tests required by the particular college. Also, four-year universities require high school course prerequisites be met if being admitted before completion of a community college transfer program.
Although colleges accept a GED instead of a high school diploma, do they consider them equivalent? According to EducationBug.org, “the short answer is maybe. Most colleges will accept a GED in lieu of a high school diploma, with community colleges almost always accepting GED scores. However they do look at it as a lower form of diploma and it should be combined with good references and tests scores in order to ensure college acceptance.”
The military accepts the GED but doesn’t consider it equal to a high school diploma. It accepts only up to ten percent GED recruits per year. This is because, according to a 1996 U.S. Department of Defense study, GED recipients leave the military before the end of their enlistment at a rate double that of high school and college grads.
According to Washingtonpost.com, critics of the GED “argue that it is not rigorous enough to substitute for a high school diploma. ...” However, the GED test has been revised twice since 1942, and a new revision is being introduced at the start of 2014. According to GED Testing Service, “The new assessment will continue to provide adults the opportunity to earn a high school credential, but it goes further by measuring career- and college-readiness skills that are the focus of today’s curriculum and tomorrow’s success.”
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.