Having the right type of high school diploma can mean the difference between a great post-secondary experience and an average one. The high school college prep diploma requires students to complete minimum state requirements in core subject areas such as math, science, English, foreign language and social studies. The technical diploma allows students to meet the minimum state requirements by completing technical education courses instead of core courses.

College Prep Diploma

To receive a college prep high school diploma, students must meet the academic requirements of their state board of education and school district. For example, the State of California Department of Education requires English: mathematics, including algebra; social science, including U.S. history and government, world history and culture, geography and economics; science, including biology and physical science; physical education; and foreign language or visual and performing arts courses.

Technical Diploma

Each state outlines their own requirements for a technical diploma. In many states, students are granted the option by their respective school districts to complete technical courses in lieu of college prep courses. Career and technical education courses promote the mastery of technical skills and help students gain an understanding of academic concepts by using a hands-on style of learning. In the state of Minnesota, for example, student may fulfill general science, mathematics, or arts credit requirements by enrolling in a district-approved technical education course.

College Prep Diploma Options

An advantage to the college prep diploma is that it allow students to enter a four-year institution of higher learning to pursue a bachelor's degree. The college prep diploma also qualifies a student to apply to a vocational or technical school or a two-year community college. However, a student’s grade point average, course rigor and variety of courses taken beyond the minimum diploma requirements, as well as SAT and ACT scores will be the basis for admittance into a four-year college or university.

Technical Diploma Options

Technical diplomas can actually increase employment opportunities for graduates. Many technical courses use industry-standard equipment and facilities, and are also designed to facilitate opportunities for students to interact with industry hiring managers. Sometimes completion of technical courses offer immediate employment opportunities or internships upon graduation.

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