How Do I Earn a High School Diploma?
Are you wondering what it takes to earn a high school diploma? While graduating from a public or private high school is the most common option, there are other ways to earn a high school diploma. You can also pass the General Educational Development (GED) exam or complete a high school diploma equivalency program. Read on to learn more.
High School Diploma Requirements
The exact course requirements for completing high school differ between states, although you can expect to take several courses in core subjects, such as English, science and mathematics. For example, according to the California Department of Education, the minimum course requirements for the state of California include three years of English, two years of math, two years of science, three years of social studies, history, economics and geography, two years of physical education and one year of art, music or a foreign language (www.cde.ca.gov).
Complete Public or Private Schooling
The most traditional way to earn your high school diploma is to attend a public or private high school. This option is generally only available to students under 18 years of age, although this varies from state to state. In addition to age requirements, there are a variety of other rules governing student behavior, dress and academic performance.
Take the GED
The General Educational Development (GED) examination is widely considered to be the equivalent of a high school diploma. This standardized exam tests you on the subject areas you'd commonly study in high school, including writing, reading, math, social studies and science. To prepare for the exam, you can take GED test preparation courses, offered by public schools and community colleges, or purchase GED test preparation resources for self-study.
Some states require that you be at least 16 years old and that you are not currently enrolled in high school in order to take the GED. Depending on your age, you may also need a parent or guardian's permission to take the GED. These requirements vary greatly from state to state, so you should check with your local regulations before attempting to take the GED exams.
Online, Correspondence and High School Equivalency Courses
Online high school diploma programs are available if you don't attend a public or private high school. Online high schools, community colleges and universities may offer high school diploma equivalency programs. Correspondence programs are also available, in which coursework and tests are sent and received through the mail. Many public schools systems offer high-school level completion courses for adults, generally available to those 18 years of age and older who want to complete high school.
Earn a High School Diploma Through NEDP
The Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems (CASAS) administers the National External Diploma Program (NEDP), a program that allows you to receive a high school diploma based on your accumulated life experiences. The diploma is awarded to older adults who have developed skills at the high school level through their experiences in the community, home or work (www.casas.org).