The traditional high school route may not be for everyone. However, the importance of receiving a high school diploma or the equivalent is an important step that can lead to better jobs and continued education opportunities in the future. There are plenty of alternative options to help an individual reach his academic goals.


The General Educational Development (GED) exam covers a wide range of subjects that are equivalent to the knowledge a student should possess when graduating high school. The series of five timed tests includes Social Studies, Science, Mathematics, Language Arts Reading and Language Arts Writing. Once you successfully pass all the tests, you can receive your GED in lieu of a diploma. If you plan on attending college after receiving the GED, you can enroll in a GED Plus program prior to taking the test. This program helps prepare the student for the test, as well as for college and career options. You must be 18 to 21 years old or 17 years old with a parent’s permission to participate in the GED Plus program.

Alternative Schools

Alternative schools are an option for some students. Most of these schools are aimed toward helping at-risk youth who either struggle with disruptive behavior or are at risk of failing because of situations like chronic non-attendance, mental health problems or teen pregnancy. Students that attend alternative schools can return to a regular high school or they can finish their high school education there. Some school districts have certain criteria that must be met before exiting the alternative school to be readmitted into a regular high school.

Online High Schools

With technology advancing every day, it is not surprising that a teenager can now attend high school online. Many states have online public high school options, and some areas have for-profit, regionally accredited online correspondence high schools available. The program participants obtain their assignments online at any time of day and then complete and submit them via the Internet. Many of these schools have specific deadlines that students must meet, but the student gets to choose when to do the work during that time frame. Once a student has successfully completed the required credits and passed all pertinent exams, a high school diploma can be awarded.

Proficiency Exams

Some states offer a proficiency exam, similar to a GED exam. You only have to be 16 years old and must have completed your second year of high school to take this test. However, you do have to obtain your parent's permission to take this route. According to the DiplomaGuide website, this option is best for individuals interested in continuing on with higher education, military training or a vocational school.

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