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GED: An alternative to traditional education


A diploma is not the only option for earning a learning credential

What do Chris Rock, Elton John, and Christina Applegate all have in common? Each accomplished celebrity earned their GEDs. 

A GED, or Graduate Equivalency Degree, is for people who have a high school level of education but for some reason couldn’t graduate. About 150,000 people earn a GED every year.

Although it’s known to some as a Graduate Equivalency Degree, a diploma and a GED are not the same, and receiving a GED over a high school diploma comes with pros and cons.

[/media-credit] Studying with others can be a helpful strategy when preparing for the exam.

The pros of a GED include learning at a personalized pace, which is easier for kids who can’t always be at school. Additionally, this could benefit people who want to fast-track their education or who take extra time to learn certain material.

A GED allows students to set their own learning pace because there are no mandatory classes, like in high school. Rather, there are only four tests to pass to receive a GED. This frees the student to study in the way that fits their life and learning style best.

However, the stigma surrounding the GED along with several other cons may make a GED less desirable than a high school diploma.

For example, students who attended high school and  secured a diploma felt more prepared for college than those who gained a GED. College may also be financially more difficult for those with a GED due to the lack of opportunity to receive grade-based scholarships.

Moreover, if planning on studying abroad at college or living in another country, the GED track may not be a secure plan because not all countries recognize a GED as an official learning credential.

Fresno Christian’s Academic Advisor, Evangelina Escovedo, shares that although getting a GED has its cons, it is a viable option for students who aren’t doing well in traditional high school. 

“For students who are struggling with traditional high school requirements due to multiple F’s or other reasons, we go over many options and pathways with both students and parents,” Escovedo said. “Receiving a GED is one of the pathways that do get mentioned in these meetings. Students who receive a GED can still attend community college and transfer to a four-year university.”

[/media-credit] Some employers may not want to hire GED holders, while other employers value personality and work ethic over a high school diploma.

Fewer employment opportunities may be available for those who have a GED compared to those who have a diploma because some employers think less of people with GEDs compared to high school diplomas.

However, many employers care more about the employee’s work ethic and personality than the learning credential that they have. Jeanie Ebury, an employer in a local accounting firm, shares her experience hiring people with GEDs.

“I can’t say that I have ever noticed a difference in the work level of a GED holder compared to a high school diploma holder,” Ebury said. “Having a GED probably would not affect me hiring them if they can explain the situation around why they got a GED instead of a high school diploma, because usually there is a good reason.” 

Most colleges and employers in America recognize the GED as a valid learning credential. Even Harvard and Yale accept GED-holders. Many people have led successful lives with a GED such as the founder of Wendy’s, Dave Thomas.

If obtaining a GED is something that may interest you, be sure to reach out to your school’s guidance counselor or academic adviser.

To read more from The Feather, go to Sense of Style: Elevating your look or Alumni Spotlight: Ellie Koleen.

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Lola Fuller
Lola Fuller, Journalist
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