High School Diploma vs. GED

High School Diploma Vs. GED: Similarities, Differences, and How to Select

Completing your GED or high school diploma is the initial step toward the development of your career. Whether you intend to join college or university or begin a job instantly, most paths will need that you first complete one of these academic programs. Every route will offer you the basic knowledge required of high school, but each has its own requirements. This article discusses the major differences between a high school diploma and a GED and what each can do for your career.

What is a General Educational Development (GED)?

A GED is a great choice for people who left high school early. GED may also be advantageous for learners who have other life responsibilities like a full-time job or a family to raise.

Earning a General Educational Development (GED) requires the following:

  • You must be aged 16.
  • You haven’t finished your high school diploma.
  • You cannot be presently enrolled in high school.
  • You must take the examination at a physical test location.

One of the benefits of a GED is that you can chase it at any time in life. Even if you left high school many years ago, you could still finish your GED at any age.

What is a High School Diploma?

Which is Better GED or High School Diploma?A high school diploma is a traditional diploma that you attain when you finish all the requirements of a high school program. While the individual requirements often differ by state, learners will need to earn credits through taking courses in general subjects like math, science, and English. Learners are expected to attend learning institutions full-time for four years to pass their classes and attain their diplomas.

To complete a high school diploma needs the following:

  • Regular attendance of high school courses
  • The successful completion of examinations

Some learners may complete their high school diploma requirements quickly, but in general, the route to a diploma takes four years to finish.

Differences Between High School Diploma and a GED

The GED is typically a high school equivalency diploma and can be utilized in applying for a job or to university or college just as a high school diploma would. Nevertheless, there are differences between the two. Here are the major differences between GED and high school diploma;

Academic Requirements

The major difference between a high school diploma and a GED is the educational requirements. High schools usually have certain coursework requirements that learners have to complete to qualify for graduation. Even though the specific requirements differ from one state to another, learners are complete coursework in subjects such as history, language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

Even though there are no specific course completion requirements for earning a GED, most GED learners will opt to complete a test prep course prior to sitting for the examination. The GED exam includes test questions from the same topics that high school students study, so this preparation is important, particularly for GED learners who have been away from the classroom for a long time.

Testing Requirements

Although GED requires less time to complete, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is easier. High school learners will often have to complete examinations in each of their classes to earn grades that make them qualify for graduation. Students can take advantage of tutoring to master hard topics and request extra credit to make up for lower scores.

GED students are required to complete a series of four examinations. These exams consist of social studies, language arts, science, and mathematical reasoning and are demonstrative of the lessons they would have studied in a traditional high school program.

Although some GED learners will enhance their test-taking skills with practice tests, they are typically fewer chances for making up lower test scores. If GED learners do not receive a minimum of 60%, they qualify to retake the GED examination three times every year.


The experience involved with each type of educational opportunity also differs. Individuals who choose to complete a high school diploma have the opportunity to experience more than the academic side of the school. They can enjoy school events, create friendships and test out hobbies and interests through school clubs and organizations. In contrast, since GED coursework is focused mainly on preparing for the GED examination, their experience exclusively entails learning activities.

Is It Worth Getting A GED?

For most people, the GED is not worth it. You will be well on your way to a successful career and life without one.

In order to get a GED, you must stop going to school after high school (which costs time and money). Then you have to decide whether or not to drop out of society for a few months while you study for the test, which also costs time and money that could be spent working. And even if you pass the test, what then? Your high school transcript still won’t say anything about it! There are many people who dropped out of society just so they can get their GEDs, but all those years of schooling they missed cost them thousands in lost wages. By this point, those folks can’t even afford to finish their GEDs.

Additionally, a GED is good for people who have been job hunting with no success. If you are one of these people the GED shows potential employers that you took initiative, wanted more out of life, and are willing to do what it takes to get it. But if you already have a job, don’t waste time on this.

It is worth noting however that in certain circumstances a GED may be required by an employer as proof of high school completion (in which case dropping out may not be an option). There are also some jobs that have age requirements greater than 21 and thus require a GED so anyone over 21 can apply.

What Does A GED Teach You?

Many GED programs are not very effective at teaching anything really. Students are often most interested in learning the information relevant to passing the test, however, this is also where a lot of teachers fall down (they don’t even read the manual).

If you’re lucky enough to have one of those rare selfless teachers who care about what they do then an education from that person can be invaluable. But if your teacher doesn’t know how to teach you can get just as much out of the coursebook on your own time so you might as well skip it.

Does A High School Diploma Matter?

Yes. A high school diploma proves to employers that you can follow directions, use proper grammar and spell well enough for a basic job.

In today’s world of technology, an emphasis is being put upon education more than ever before as a way of getting the best jobs possible. Employers are always looking for college graduates because it shows them that you are smart, motivated, and dedicated. In order to get into college, however, you must have your high school diploma first! This means two things:

  • The highest-paying jobs require some form of postsecondary education and
  • Your degree will be worthless if you’ve dropped out of society too long without one!

GED vs. High School Diploma: Which is Better?

There is no such thing as a bad diploma. A high school diploma shows an employer that you can read and write at a basic level while also showing commitment. Your local community college will want proof of this in order for you to continue any further into their system (usually just a copy of your diploma).

A GED on the other hand has no legitimacy. It is not recognized by any college, and anyone who has one is essentially a dropout. Even if your state allows you to opt-out of school altogether in order to take the test, it’s pretty obvious why dropping out isn’t recommended.

GED vs. High School Diploma: What’s Wrong With Dropping Out?

Dropping out should be a last resort option only used as a last-ditch effort to get that piece of paper that will allow you to continue into the next stage in life (because chances are it will take more than one attempt). If you’ve already got plans for after high school then there really is no reason to drop out at all. Make your goals, work on them and achieve them.

Steps to Follow When Choosing Between High School Diploma and GED

1. Consider Where You are Academically

It is important to consider your academic progress up to date. If you left high school many years ago, you might not qualify to go back to school, making GED the best choice. But, if you have already completed many years of high school and are just a short time away from graduation, then it may make sense to complete your high school diploma. Learning for the GED may take several months. Depending on how far you are in high school, you can obtain your diploma in the same amount of time.

2. Consider Your Schedule and Other Responsibilities

Finishing a high school diploma takes four years of full-time classes with regular attendance. This schedule doesn’t work for every individual. External factors such as a full-time job, family, or financial concerns can make it hard to meet the requirements of a high school diploma. On the other hand, obtaining a GED requires studying and preparation, but students aren’t required to attend many classes. Your schedule and ability to meet these requirements can assist you in determining the program which is right for you.

3. Consider Your Career Goals

Is A GED as Good as High School Diploma?It is important to consider your career goals when determining whether a high school diploma or GED is right for you. Some colleges and universities consider a GED to be equivalent to a high school diploma, while others may need an actual diploma. Consider your career goals and the related learning requirements to guide you in your choice.

A high school diploma also provides the ability to develop crucial life skills. If high school, learners can learn problem-solving, project management, teamwork, and organization skills.

4. Do Your Study

If you opt to pursue a high school diploma or a GED, you must know the requirements. Do your study to understand better what is needed for every kind of degree. If you want to pursue a specific career or university, it is important to reach out to an admissions office to understand better what is required when applying. Also, you can research what minimum education is required for any career routes that you are interested in undertaking.

Resources and References: