Is the GED Enough to Get Me Into College?

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Many students wonder if passing the GED high school equivalency test is enough to get them into college. The short answer is yes, but there are some issues to consider when applying to college with a GED.
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Admissions requirements

According to the GED Testing Service, 98 percent of all U.S. colleges and universities accept applicants with a GED diploma or certificate in lieu of a traditional high school diploma. However, college admissions offices typically require more than just a diploma from applicants. Many four-year colleges also use scores from standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT to evaluate candidates. The GED Testing Service advises GED holders to register to take those tests if the college of their choice requires them.

Colleges also typically use class ranks as part of their admissions criteria. The American Council on Education recommends that admissions officers consider percentile ranks based on GED Test scores to estimate a U.S. national class rank for applicants with GEDs.

The 2014 GED

In the past, students with a GED diploma have not shown the same skill sets and abilities as traditional graduates. To address that concern, the 2014 version of the GED Test was revised and aligned to the Common Core Standards, the educational benchmarks and academic expectations for high school graduates now in place in most school districts throughout the United States. The new test requires more knowledge and higher-level thinking skills and the GED Testing Service has issued a guide for colleges to help evaluate applicants who have passed the 2014 version of the GED .

Scores on the four GED test sections range from 100 to 200. A score of 150 is needed to pass a test section. Test takers who earn scores of 170 or higher earn Honors scores. According to the GED Testing Service, Honors scores reflect the skills and abilities required for first-year college coursework. Nevertheless, the GED Testing Service still advises GED holders that colleges may require them to take achievement or placement tests to determine if they need remedial help or additional coursework.

A GED vs a High School Diploma

According to the Community College Review, all community colleges accept applicants with a GED, and most four-year colleges welcome applications from GED holders. However, applicants with traditional diplomas still have an edge on admissions. Despite scores that reflect college readiness, there is a general sense that a GED does not represent the depth of learning and academic achievement of a four-year high school education.

In addition to questions about academic equivalency, a GED is still associated with dropping out of school and other negative perceptions such as possible behavioral or emotional problems. Some admissions officers may see a GED diploma as a way to cut corners and avoid four years of classroom attendance and work with a seven-and-a-half hour test.

If you are applying to college with a GED, you can overcome these potential disadvantages with examples of projects you have completed, evidence of you work experience and references outlining your involvement in volunteer efforts and community organizations. Extra letters of recommendation may also help.

If you are not accepted at the college or university of your choice, you can start your post-secondary education at any community college and eventually transfer. After spending two years at a junior college, you'll have proven yourself to be just as prepared and dedicated as any high school graduate.

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