You may think that if you didn't graduate from high school there's no chance of getting into college. Luckily, many accredited colleges and universities provide the opportunity for students interested in continuing their education to do so through less traditional methods. Although taking the General Educational Development exam is the most common route, there are a few other routes you can take to earn a college degree.
Getting Your GED Certificate
According to the GED Testing Service, 95 percent of colleges and universities accept a GED certificate awarded to test takers who have satisfactorily passed the test. The GED test consists of five separate sections testing knowledge on the basic high school subjects of reading, writing, social studies, science and math. A GED certificate acts as a high school diploma equivalency, but each college has additional individual requirements, ranging from standardized test scores to letters of recommendation.
Going to Community College
Many community colleges require a GED certificate or high school diploma, but they also offer "Ability to Benefit" programs that allow you to enroll and take classes. Each community college has its own requirements, but enrolling in an "Ability to Benefit" program may qualify you for admission to a degree program and make you eligible for financial aid. If you are capable of handling a community college course load and making appropriate grades, some four-year universities will accept you as a transfer student without a diploma.
Applying for Non-Traditional Status
Although very rare, colleges do accept a very small percentage of non-traditional applicants each year. Many colleges and universities understand that events sometimes happen in your life that are beyond your control. If this is the case, and you have a compelling reason, some schools may waive traditional requirements. This is done on a case-by-case basis after speaking to an admissions counselor at your desired school. This method is often utilized by adults who are well beyond high school age.
Taking College Classes in High School
If you are a traditional high school student, you may have the option to take classes made available to you by an affiliated college or university while completing your high school diploma requirements. Your high school will often offer these college classes, but if they don't, contact your desired college to see whether these classes are available to you. This process, known as dual enrollment, is designed to prepare high school students for college.
- West Virginia University: Admission Requirements
- EdSource: No High School Diploma? You've Got Options
- Suffolk County Community College: Admissions Procedures
- Colorado College: Admission Policy for Students With Nontraditional Records
- New York State Higher Education Services Corporation: Frequently Asked Questions - Ability to Benefit
- Bethel College: Nontraditional Studies
- Jobs for the Future: Taking College Courses in High School: A Strategy for College Readiness