High school can be a difficult place for some people. The social pressures, academic rigor and large class sizes can overwhelm even the most gifted student. Bullying is a real issue. The pressure to conform and fit in can take away from the primary objective of attending four years of school: an education.
There are many reasons students consider dropping out ahead of obtaining their diploma. Some of these students do wish to continue their education and go on to successful careers. These students plan on earning their GED in place of graduating with a diploma. Getting a GED is the equivalent, right? Before deciding to drop out, it's a good idea to know the differences between a GED vs. a high school diploma.
What Is A GED?
The GED, or General Education Diploma (or General Education Development,) is an aptitude test that covers the essential elements learned in high school: math, social studies, science, reading aptitude, including literature and the arts, and writing ability. The test is multiple-choice except for the essay portion. Like other standardized tests, each of the five sections is scored separately, and the scores are combined to give an overall rating. There is a minimum cumulative score the test-taker must receive to pass it and obtain the GED. If passed, the GED certificate signifies that the student met high school graduation academic requirements. Only official testing center offer the test, and only on specific testing dates. Online testing is not an option, and any website purporting to do so is a scam. The only thing you can do online for a GED is study. Don't confuse those online prep courses with the actual GED.
How And Why Was The GED Created?
The history of the test goes all the way back to the 1940s. It was first created to provide an educational opportunity for returning World War II veterans. Many of them enlisted young and did not have the chance to go to school. Thus, the GED allowed them to get the necessary education requirements to continue forward to college. The basic premise was to give undereducated people a path to better themselves academically and eventually, vocationally. Through the first four decades of its existence, the GED served people who wanted to better their lives. While the test has evolved over the years, the fundamental principle behind taking the test has remained the same: self-improvement. That primary reason has continued for the last 80 plus years.
Who Can Get A GED?
There are some basic requirements to meet before obtaining a GED:
If you meet these requirements, you will be able to get your GED. While there is an age requirement of 16 years old, there is no age limit. As long as you don't have a high school diploma, you are eligible to get a GED.
What Are The Limitations Of A GED?
The leading thought may be that a GED and high school diploma mean the same thing While they both prove you have mastered necessary high school education requirements, they are not equal. Consider the following information before deciding to leave school early.
The purpose of the GED for many is to have a pathway to college. While this still holds true, certain things are limited if you have a GED. For starters, some of the more prestigious four-year colleges and universities place more weight on those who have obtained a high school diploma. It doesn't mean that you won't be able to get into one of these colleges, but you may need to take a different path. If you have a GED and want to attend a college that doesn't necessarily put much weight on your certificate, attending a community college and transferring to a university is probably your best option.
For those colleges that do accept the GED, know that you may have to get more private loans because financial aid options are limited for those who didn't graduate high school. While there is no exact reason for this, according to statistics compiled over the last two decades, people who enter college with a high school diploma account for 85 percent of all financial aid recipients. That leaves a measly 15 percent for those who have a GED or some other type of equivalent (more on that below.)
2. The Military
The military is a career route that many young men and women are starting to take. It offers opportunities for those who seek direction and purpose. It can also provide resources to further your academic career through the GI Bill. However, getting into the military is easier for those with a high school diploma vs. a GED. Why is this the case? The military requires you have one or the other. Upon application, candidates get sorted into entrance tiers based on specific fundamental requirements. Tier 1 recruits have a diploma. Tier 2 applicants have GEDs or certificates of completion. If there is ever a choice to be made between the two tiers, those who fall under the first will receive special entrance over the second. Some branches of the military are more stringent than others. Recruiting officers will place even more weight on those who have a diploma.
Career options may be significantly limited if you don't graduate high school. These days, even many basic entry-level jobs require some diploma or equivalent to be considered. In a recent study, employers almost overwhelmingly hired people with high school diplomas over those with GEDs. When it came to jobs that required a college degree, this number was much closer, but still, the diploma-holders won out. As stated above, if you want a career in the military, graduating high school gives you a definite advantage over others who did not.
Why The Inequity?
Now that you've seen there is a marked difference in the acceptance of a GED vs. a high school diploma, you probably want to know why. While it's true that a GED will open many more doors than not having anything at all, it opens just slightly less opportunity than a diploma. In today's world, which places so much emphasis on education and self-betterment, why then is someone who chose to get a GED not regarded as highly as a high school graduate?
There is a certain amount of reservation afforded to someone who did not finish high school. The general stigma attached lends itself to the notion that a person who could not stay in school for four years will not be able to perform at a higher level long-term. Colleges often believe that not following through with a high school curriculum puts students at a higher probability of doing the same at a college level, where class work and requirements are even more strict and critical.
In the military, those who finished high school get considered over those who didn't, because of the same idea. They believe, as a whole, if you drop out of school, you're more likely to withdraw from the armed services. In their eyes, as in the eyes of colleges, if you don't have the capability of completing a task as important as school, you may be less likely to finish the complex and critical functions of the military.
Another thing taken into consideration is the likelihood you are troubled in some way. Maybe the reason you dropped out was that you couldn't follow the basic rules set out in school. Did you skip classes? Were you a problem in the classroom for teachers? Beyond high school, colleges, employers and the military have no way of knowing if you will continue that poor behavior in their institution. Therefore, it is best to take someone who completed high school over someone who did not.
It is this mark against the GED and those who have obtained it that is the hardest to overcome. There is a myriad of reasons why someone chooses to leave school. Sure, some of them center on maturity issues. Others may be due to health issues, either of the student or a family member that causes too much classroom time to be missed. Maybe a person doesn't perform well in crowded situations, and the overcrowding of the school made a student feel lost among the masses. The best thing you can do if you opt to take your GED is to be prepared to explain why you left high school willingly. If you do well on the test and can demonstrate self-awareness in letting colleges and employers know the reason behind your discontinuation of high school, they will be more apt to accept you as an equal to someone who has a high school diploma. Whatever decision you come to, it is crucial that you continue with improving yourself. Having a GED is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it may just help pave the way for the future you want.