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Explained: What Is A GED, and Why Do I Need It?

To get a high school diploma or a GED, that is the question. There are many reasons to get one or the other. But wait! What exactly is a GED? Will it carry the same weight as a high school diploma? What will employers or college admissions think of it on a resume or application? Which one should you get, a high school diploma or a GED? Let’s discuss the differences between the two.

What is the GED?

First, the “General Educational Development” test helps anyone over the age of 16 who hasn’t earned a high school diploma. For current students who are considering leaving high school early, the test can also provide an alternative to graduation.

However, unless extreme circumstances are forcing an individual out of high school, it is encouraged to stick to the diploma path. All high school students should consult with a counselor if they are considering pursuing the high equivalency degree test and credential.

The GED consists of the GED test and the GED credential. The GED test includes exams on four different topics, including math, reasoning through language arts, science, and social studies. These are subjects that high school students will know very well. If you’ve attended high school through junior year, you should feel pretty confident about your ability to study for and pass the exam.

Once you pass all four exams on the initial test, you’ve earned your GED credential. This credential serves as a diploma showing you have a 12-grade level knowledge base—even if you didn’t graduate from a traditional high school.

The Differences Between a GED and a Diploma

A Series of Tests vs. Required Classes

The GED, as we reviewed above, is a series of four tests, each of which is at least one hour; this means it is a potentially seven-hour test. These tests cover everything from geometry to writing essays, and students will make it out those dreaded P.E. classes and unspoken school rules. 

A diploma requires the traditional four years of school with a set number of classes, while students can earn a high school equivalency degree with adequate study time and materials.

4 Year Program vs. Variable Time Frame

Since testing for the GED starts as early as age 16, it can present a chance to join the workforce early. However, most teenagers are encouraged to develop their hard and soft skills during high school. 

Finish That Diploma

While taking the test and leaving high school early may sound appealing, it is essential to note that this is not the recommended method. If a student has made it to their sophomore and junior year of high school, they are only a couple of years away from earning a diploma. If there are other discerning or personal reasons for wanting to drop out of high school, perhaps an alternative is enrolling in an online high school. 

For those considering taking the GED, take into account the advantages of staying enrolled in high school. The high school experience offers valuable tools for learning, both in and outside of the classroom.

High schools provide team and individual school-sponsored sports as well as extracurricular clubs and activities that potential colleges and employers will see as valuable. Dropping out can also remove ample opportunities for building leadership, networking, and time management skills. Finally, while the GED requires strong foundational academic skills, high school classes offer advanced educational possibilities such as A.P. or honors classes.

Fairborn Digital Academy presents opportunities for students, both teenagers and adults, to succeed on their path to either a diploma or a GED. Have questions about getting started? Visit our FAQs for more information.

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