What is a High School Diploma?

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You know a high school diploma is important, but do you know why it's important? This article describes what the meaning behind this single sheet of paper is.
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While most people understand what a high school diploma represents, some are less sure of what it entails.

What does it Mean?

Your diploma symbolizes all of the knowledge you have accumulated by taking a number of required courses. You should know the basics of English composition, math, science, geography and history.

When can you get it?

A high school diploma is earned after completing the required amount of courses with at least a passing grade. The number of classes needed and types of classes vary depending on state regulations and specific school districts. Some districts require students to take a high school exit exam, so you may need to take classes, as well as pass a test at the end of your senior year.

How old can you be?

Many students receive their diploma after their senior year of high school, which means that the average student is either 17 or 18. You can be much younger. Age doesn't matter as long as you complete the classes.

However, according to Jamie Littlefield of Distance Learning at About.com (distancelearn.about.com), there is an age limit in many states for students who are returning to earn their degree. She says most districts allow people to complete the work for their diploma one to three years after they turn 18 in an adult education community programs. After you turn 21, you have to try for you GED instead of your diploma.

How can you get it?

There are several ways that you can earn your diploma. You can receive it by attending a public or private high school. You can also do it by being home-schooled or attending an online high school program.

These are the basics of a high school diploma. It's more than a piece of paper. It can affect what choices will be available much later in your life.

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