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Should You Get a High School Diploma Online or a GED?

For some students, the traditional four-year high school model doesn’t work. Plenty of people drop out of school for many different reasons. They may need to take care of their family. They may want to jump into the workforce. But often students later regret their decision to quit school. Luckily, there are options for those who want to go back and finish high school. An online high school diploma program or a GED lets you complete your education. For students trying to decide between getting a high school diploma online or a GED, there are benefits to both.

Are High School Diplomas and GEDs the Same?

While similar, a diploma and a GED are not the same. A GED is meant to be equal to a high school diploma. You can use it to apply to college. You can also put it on your résumé. But, while you'll need to complete the same requirements as a high school program to graduate from an online high school, a GED has no required coursework. You just need to pass the necessary exams. This might sound like a positive, but employers and colleges are aware of the amount of work that goes into earning a high school diploma online versus a GED. Whether it's earned in person or online, a high school diploma shows that a student has completed a full high school education. Show future employers that you can put in the work needed to get the job done.

Is a High School Diploma Better Than a GED?

Yes. A high school diploma is much more highly regarded by employers and college admissions officials. Both generally prefer a diploma to a GED. For those wondering why a high school diploma is better than a GED, the statistics don't lie:

  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people who earn a high school diploma earn more per month than those with a GED. And only 5% of students who get a GED go on to earn a bachelor's degree. 33% of high school graduates go on to earn their bachelor’s degree.
  • Research by the American Council on Education found that only 11.8% of people with a GED who enrolled in college graduated.
  • Students who join the military after obtaining their GED may have a hard time. All branches of the military limit the numbers of people without a high school diploma (including people with a GED) that they will accept each year.

If you are choosing between going to high school online and a GED, a diploma is clearly a better choice.