Getting a Diploma vs. GED

While getting the GED may prove beneficial to countless individuals, there’s no denying the fact that there are certain drawbacks to choosing this path rather than finishing high school and getting a diploma. It’s important for students to evaluate their choices and weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.

People without any diploma in high school or its equivalent may not get a college education at all or be hard-pressed to find a good job. High school dropouts will definitely need a General Educational Development Test to work their way up to a good career. Which one is best? Is it a formal diploma or GED test?

The following excerpt from an article published online by The American Academy is an eye opener: Educational credentials go a long way towards career growth. If you were not able to earn a high school diploma in your teens, it’s never too late. You may have been forced to leave high school because of the need to help with the family’s finances, or were pursuing an athletic, musical or showbiz career or for any other reason. You have a second chance (actually, two!) towards proving your academic ability: you can take the General Educational Development (GED) test or get an online high school diploma. These two work towards the same end – to help one become more prepared for life and more competitive in the workplace.

Recognition of Educational Attainment

In terms of acceptance, academic institutions, corporate organizations, federal government agencies, and the military establishment will always favor the regular high school diploma. It is a pre-requisite for admission to university or college. For instance, students with diplomas and outstanding marks can qualify for scholarships and financial grants easily. This is not possible with GED. In the domain of business, almost all entry-level positions call for a high school diploma or GED. Yet, young people bearing diplomas have a better advantage. Individuals who hold these valuable certificates are also preferred for recruitment in the United States Armed Forces. Those in Level One (high school graduates) belong to top priority.

Certificate of Completion


The “No Child Left behind Act” stipulates that students finishing the required coursework for graduation but have not passed mandatory exit exams on the 12th grade may be given certificates of attendance. This is not a diploma or its equivalent but simply proof of high school attendance.

The education department explains said certificates are frequently awarded to youngsters with Individualized Education Plans.
Schools do not consider these Certificates of Completion as minimum requirements for admission. Nevertheless, holders of these credentials can complete the requirements for a high school diploma. Upon completion, you can apply with colleges or trade institutes. It is also possible to apply for federal student assistance. In some states, this official document may prohibit you from taking the GED exam. Therefore, verify local requirements before accepting the certification.

Remember, some distance learning high schools can give out valid high school diplomas. Yet, check if these are legitimate programs.

GED Eligibility

An individual is eligible to take the GED provided the following criteria are met:

  • The person should not have graduated from any recognized high school or earned high school equivalency certificate or diploma.
  • The candidate must not be enrolled presently in any conventional high school.
  • This person should be at least 16 years old.

The GED Testing Service oversees the GED test for every state under the auspices of the American Council on Education. With regards to web-based programs, the council has given advice that GED cannot be obtained through the Internet or correspondence programs. This may have doubtful value and unacceptable to employers, educational institutions or the armed forces. Human resources departments, college admissions staff, and military recruitment personnel are asked to validate the legitimacy of GED credentials by calling the jurisdiction that gave the examination.

However, online GED preparation modules can be more practical than attending local lessons. Most of these are sponsored by the state and contain information regarding regular classroom instruction and official testing facilities. The GED recipient can have a similar opportunity just like the holder of a school diploma. Community colleges and majority of four-year schools accept the GED although job applicants with diplomas may be preferred. One negative aspect of the GED is the opinion of certain educators that the examinees are not really well-versed with the topics. Besides, actual interaction is a vital component of high school learning. Even then, passing General Educational Development is proof that you accomplished parallel knowledge obtained through formal education.

Pass the GED Test


The GED test is by no means easier. You are marked based on the prescribed equivalency level as against formal high school students. It is imperative to perform on the level equal to or higher than 60% of seniors. These are principal subjects that include Science; Mathematics; Social Studies; Language Arts (Reading); and, Language Arts (Writing). Aside from short-form answers, the test in writing includes an essay. The key is to study and prepare well. Adult education hubs across the United States offer test-preparation modules. Students are free to buy study books or look for free practice examinations in the worldwide web.

The High School Diploma Factor

If you are quite old and this is preventing you from enrolling in high school, GED credential is the most viable option. You still own the chance to take home a diploma so consider your alternatives prudently. Nearly all students only have two to three years of assignments left upon qualifying for the GED exam. While this period is without doubt longer compared to the required time for preparation, do not discount the advantages of obtaining a diploma.

High school life offers a unique experience other than the edifying classroom instructions. These are academic clubs, supplementary activities and practical applications. Moreover, secondary schools guarantee social formation that will help you proceed through college and formal employment. General Educational Development can help build deep-seated academic foundation. However, it cannot ensure progressive educational opportunities that you can get in formal education.

Students who plan to study in foreign schools will find out that many international universities or colleges are not willing to recognize this credential. In case you wish to study in post-secondary institutions, you must make it a point to get in touch with admissions officials to find out if the diploma is obligatory for matriculation or not.


Securing the GED may be quicker than getting a high school diploma. Therefore, it seems a sensible choice for those who want to accelerate their way to employment. Research shows that more or less 96 percent of American employers consider GED as equivalent to high school diplomas. Nearly all two-year colleges and vocational curricula are incorporated in the American Council of Education statistics on college admissions for aspirants carrying GED credentials. In short, you can still qualify for further training associated with your prospective careers.

The United States Census Bureau revealed that roughly 12.8 million Americans over the age of 15 have the GED qualification. In other words, more and more people are choosing to take an uncommon course. This also implies that many employers have to deal with job applicants whose education does not fit the conventional model. This continues to be a big question mark for many individuals.

How will the GED test shape one’s career?

Researchers have found out that a big number of employers in the country are more concerned about pertinent experience as well as technical competence rather than diplomas or the GED. It is proof of the degree that is asked for. Employers move on to the next applicant only if the job hunter does not have either the diploma or the GED exam. These companies do not mind if the individual did not finish high school at all.

On the other hand, it is an entirely different case if you move from the ordinary labor position into more specialized areas. Applicants for higher positions such as the managerial category are usually those with diplomas and not GED credentials. This is an indication of the perception that GED is inferior compared to the diploma. In fact, some applicants tend to remove GED references from their resumes. At this juncture, bachelor and master’s degrees are still the determining factors. The bottom line is that high school diplomas and equivalency tests are relegated to being an addendum.

GED Pros and Cons

The GED test can signify two distinct things for most business owners and managers. This depends on the circumstances. According to academic experts, it is not really whether you have garnered the diploma or took the GED. It is more of GED being utilized as a potent instrument and strategy to start college earlier. This test together with the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Advanced Placement (AP) or Grade Point Average (GPA) is more of the energizer for those who wish to move fast.

Here is another important point. Workers, who have acquired the edge after reaching 18 years of age, are not seen as assets by many employers. GED is a hint of the lack of capacity of an individual unless you earned several college units or outstanding experience. The key is to go on with your schooling in whatever capacity you have. You need the potential to set up an educational portfolio. Do not allow potential employers to come up with conjectures.

It is not necessary to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree just to prove that you are resolute regarding formal education. Enroll in appropriate courses that will help obtain a certification or accreditation. It could be a foreign language curriculum or public speaking module. All you have to demonstrate is that you have an earnest commitment to education and your prospective employer.

Credentials for Home School

Home school is also an indication of looking for success and fulfillment in the academe and corporate world. Youngsters who finish home-based learning can ascertain their graduation from high school in various ways. Some of these home school students take and pass the GED. Certain home school diplomas are qualified for official recognition by state education departments or local school districts. Others highlight accomplishments by collecting portfolios which draw attention to comprehensive accounts of their formal schooling and extracurricular practices.

What is the advantage of home schooling? The academic entity or business firm may consider looking at factors aside from the high school documents. These may be scores of standardized exams as well as personal interviews. Furthermore, there are home school completion courses that give out diplomas to successful graduates. The current standing of persons who have completed home school and those applying for enlistment in the armed forces vary and have changed a lot of times.

As an example, conscripts with homeschooling were categorized as Tier 1 before 1998 and were consequently lowered to Tier 2 due to studies that manifested higher attrition marks for homeschooled students as against high school graduates. More data is being gathered because it is deemed that those who finished homeschooling bear the identical low attrition rates just like those who graduated from high school.

What will be your decision?

The objective of a person may vary. One may wish to become a successful teacher, employee or accountant. Of course, many would like to finish college and not just earn a high school diploma. You may be entertaining hopes of joining the military. The diploma is your first option. The problem is that your choices are fairly limited if you get something less than the high school diploma.

Face the reality. The General Educational Development Test may not be as compelling as a formal diploma. You may even be frustrated to find out schools rejecting your GED test results no matter how impressive these may be. This goes the same for business corporations along with the military establishment. The diploma holder will always be one step ahead. The nagging question is: Will the employer care?
In a highly competitive environment, you can expect smart employers to find people who exert absolute efforts to complete a formal education. It indicates ambition, motivation and the will to succeed. Once given a choice, these employers will select the graduates with diplomas. Yet, it does not mean that GED test holders must be desperate. Prove that you are focused on your goal. Then, you stand a fair chance in being noticed by employers.