The only path to earning your high school diploma starts on the first day of kindergarten at the local brick-and-mortar elementary school and ends 13 years later when you walk across the stage at your area high school, right?
In today’s era of school choice, there may be many twists and turns throughout your school and life journeys that could cause you to take a break from a brick-and-mortar school. If that happens, you may be left wondering—should I get my GED or go back to school and earn my high school diploma?
What Is a GED?
To decide which option is best for you, it helps to understand what a GED is, why people get one, and how a GED is different from a high school diploma.
GED stands for General Educational Development test. If you left high school for any reason, you can sit for the GED test. The test has four parts that are taken at different times:
- Mathematical Reasoning
- Social Studies
- Reasoning through Language Arts
Sound familiar? These are typically the four core subject areas that make up most high school curriculums and are required for students to earn their high school diploma.
GED Test Breakdown
The test is designed to measure if students have the same knowledge in these core areas as students attending brick-and-mortar schools, online high schools, or homeschool.
- It takes about seven hours total to complete each part of test.
- Typically, only people who are not enrolled in a high school program can take the GED test.
Upon successful completion of the test, you earn your GED, which is equivalent to a high school diploma, and should meet high school equivalency requirements for colleges/universities and employers.
The GED Testing Service requires that individuals pass each of the four content area tests with a score of 145 or higher to earn a passing score on the GED test to receive their high school equivalency diploma.
GED vs. Diploma
While earning your high school diploma is considered the same as earning your GED, there are benefits to choosing to go back to school—either a brick-and-mortar high school or online school like Connections Academy— to earn your diploma if you are of high school age.
Here Are 5 Reasons High School Age Students May Choose a High School Diploma vs. a GED
1. Employers Favor Students with High School Diplomas
While it is true that the GED is considered the same as a high school diploma, many employers favor students that earn their diploma. Attending classes, interacting with teachers and peers, studying for exams, and all of the other experiences that happen in high school build soft skills, including communication, teamwork, leadership, flexibility, and work ethic. Research shows that 85% of job success comes from having well‐developed soft and people skills, which is why employers increasingly are looking for people who have these skills.
While having a GED is better than not having a diploma, earning the high school diploma versus the GED can improve your opportunities in the workforce thanks to the invaluable and independent skills you’ll have acquired.
2. High School Prepares You for College or Trade School
Many careers require higher education or trade school beyond high school. While colleges and universities, community colleges, and trade schools accept students who earned their GED versus diploma, attending high school builds the study skills and habits that will be needed to find success in institutes of higher learning.
3. High School Offers Opportunities to Discover New Things
In addition to core subjects, high school requires several credits of electives. Both brick-and-mortar high schools and online schools also offer clubs and extracurricular activities.
Students are introduced to new experiences in electives and clubs—things they may never have thought they would like or ever considered trying.
- A home economics class might spark an interest in a culinary career.
- A coding class may spark an interest in coding as a career.
- Even a volunteer activity originally intended for meeting community service hours could lead your student down a path of pursuing impact and social change for others.
Connections Academy offers courses and experiences that prepare students for jobs of the future. By earning your GED versus attending high school, you miss these opportunities to learn more about yourself and what career path you want to pursue.
4. High School Is a Great Place to Network
Research shows that as many as 80% of jobs are filled through personal and professional connections. Attending both brick-and-mortar high school or online school helps you build critical connections with teachers and peers who may be used later as references, to write letters of recommendation, or who may lead you to a new and exciting job.
You don’t make those same connections when earning your GED.
5. Earning a High School Diploma Is Free
Taking the GED test costs money. Not only is there a fee for the test, but there are fees for study materials. Public online schools like Connections Academy are just like public brick-and-mortar schools—students don’t pay tuition and they receive their high school diplomas for free.
What Are the Graduation Requirements Needed to Earn a Free Online High School Diploma?
High school graduation requirements for accredited online high schools are set by the state where the school is based and mirror the state’s brick-and-mortar schools’ graduation requirements. Students enrolled in both types of public schools typically do the same number of credit hours, attend school the same number of hours/days, and must pass the same or similar state competency tests to graduate and receive their online high school diploma.
Online high schools have guidance counselors who help guide students in their course selection to ensure they meet the state guidelines to receive their high school diploma. Many online schools also offer solutions like credit recovery programs to support students who may be missing credits.
Earn Your High School Diploma at an Online High School
If brick-and-mortar schools just don’t offer the flexibility or learning environment you need to find success, you have options. Connections Academy offers an inclusive environment with flexible school schedules to help earn your high school diploma versus getting a GED, while handling the other responsibilities in your life. Many Connections Academy schools also offer catch-up courses to help get you caught up on required courses you may have missed when you left school.
And finally, many online schools also offer in-person graduation ceremonies where students are presented with their high school diploma. Students can celebrate their achievement with friends and family!
Connections Academy prepares students for life beyond high school. Contact a counselor today to explore your options or join a Connections Academy information session to learn more.