Alternatives to Earning a Traditional High School Diploma

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Wishing you had earned your high school diploma? It's not too late. Fortunately, there are alternatives to earning a traditional high school diploma.
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Some students choose to leave high school early for any number of reasons. While many employers and colleges prefer to employ high school graduates, there are several alternatives. These can help you to receive better pay or advancement opportunities. Here are some options to consider.


The most common alternative for those who are seeking an alternative to earning a high school diploma is a GED certificate. GED stands for General Educational Development. In order to receive your GED, you must take the GED test. This test covers material that would have been covered in the high school classes you would have needed to take in order to receive a diploma. These subjects include writing, reading, math, science and social science. Those who are best suited for this test are students who have left high school and want an alternative diploma. Students need to be at least 18 in order to take the test.

External High School Diploma

An external high school diploma is another alternative to the traditional high school diploma. A student can receive this certificate by showing they have basic high school skills through a series of workbooks. These skills have probably been learned through job experience or other personal experiences. This type of approach is similar to distance learning.

Proficiency Exam

Many states, such as California, have proficiency exams. A proficiency exam is similar to the GED. Like the GED, students take an exam that covers material that would have been covered while attending a traditional high school or being home schooled. Unlike the GED, students must only be 16 and need to have completed their second year of high school. Once a student completes the exam, he or she can leave school early. The student must obtain the consent of a parent or guardian before leaving school. This option is perhaps best suited for those students who'd like to move on to higher education, military training or a vocational school.

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