Should I get a High School Diploma or GED&Reg;?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2019
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Whether or not you should obtain a high school diploma or a general equivalency diploma (GED®) is a highly personal decision which should be based on your individual goals. If you plan to attend a four-year university, then a high school diploma may be a faster and easier route. A GED® may be more beneficial if you want to attend a trade school, community college, or technical school. Before making the decision on whether to get a high school diploma or GED®, you should consider speaking with an adviser who can help you narrow down your options.

There are a variety of circumstances which may affect your decision on whether to get a high school diploma or GED®. Although both require studying and similar knowledge, a high school diploma is generally held in higher regards by universities and employers. If you are able, obtaining a high school diploma will allow you to apply to a four-year school directly after graduation. You may also have to take additional exams with passing scores, but many universities will not consider those with a general equivalency diploma unless some college level courses have already been completed.


The main drawback to getting a high school diploma rather than a GED® is that it is more time-consuming. You will have to attend school regularly, either in a traditional high school setting or as part of an adult or alternative school structure. Some areas offer accelerated programs, but these often still take one or more years. A GED® is often self-paced, and you can study as quickly or as slowly as you need before taking the exam.

If you want to attend a two-year community college or technical school rather than a four-year university directly after graduation, then the choice between getting a high school diploma or GED® may be easier to make. A GED® course will be faster and will allow you to continue your education sooner than would a traditional high school diploma. This may be a real benefit if you are pressed for time. For instance, if you are pregnant and want to finish your education before having the baby, a GED® may be a better option.

To determine whether a high school diploma or GED® is best for your situation, considering speaking with a career or school counselor. If you have career goals in mind, speak with him or her to determine the fastest and more feasible option for your unique situation. Even if you decide to go with a GED® program, you can still attend a four-year college later once you have completed two years at a community college or technical school.


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