Adults that haven’t received their high school diploma can go back to school and take their General Education Development exam or GED. Holding a GED is better than not having a high school diploma, but when we analyze the debate of a High School Diploma vs. GED, is one genuinely better than the other?
In most cases, people believe that a diploma and GED are equivalent. A high school diploma and GED are not always the same.
There are advantages to completing high school and graduating with your class. When you’re not going the traditional educational route, you may want to consider online courses that put you on a path toward a traditional high school diploma.
Why A High School Diploma Is Better Than A GED
Finishing high school opens a person’s doors to more career options. Employers want to be sure that there is a minimum education standard for the people that they hire. A high school diploma is this standard, and from a monetary perspective and the Military requires a high school diploma for enlistment, so it’s easy to see that a GED doesn’t hold the same value as a diploma.
The CDC offers a study that outlines what the average person earns with a GED vs. a high school diploma. Typically, a person with a GED earns on average $1,600 less per month than their high school diploma counterparts.
The figure puts the average person finishing high school earning $4,700 per month, while a GED holder earns $3,100 per month.
Over the course of a year, that’s a $19,200 difference, which is over $500,000 over the course of 30 years.
Higher Education Path
When a person opts to get their GED, they often have high aspirations that they’ll attend college. The fact is that there is little chance a person will complete a higher education degree. Statistically, there’s a 95% drop out rate for people with a GED when it comes to completing a four-year college.
This demographic also has more than half of people that enter into a career training program never finish.
High School Sets the Student Up for Success
A high school program follows a similar learning experience to college. When a person transitions from high school to college, they already have a foundation for success. The ability to study and follow a rigid schedule is something students learn in school.
When a GED exam is taken, it’s a general certificate that allows the person to study at their own pace to obtain their certificate.
Again, a GED is better than nothing, but students tend to lose their steam when entering higher education. In terms of success, more high school diploma holders will go on to obtain their bachelor's degrees and land higher-paying positions during their careers.
Some Employers Value Diplomas More Than a GED
Education sets you up for a career and the rest of your life. Most people opt to go back to school to enhance their chances of being hired. Employers tend to hire more workers that have a high school diploma than a person with a GED. After all, having a high school diploma says you complete what you start.
In terms of unemployment, 11% of people with GED are unemployed, while 7.5% of high school diploma holders are unemployed.
Hiring managers have a stigma that leads to lower hiring rates for people with a GED. When you have the option to go back to school and finish high school online, it’s a decision that’s easier to make when reviewing the statistics outlined above.
You're deciding to finish up your secondary schooling, but it’s a decision you should make carefully.
It takes a lot of time and effort to complete your high school education, but it’s worth the lifetime of higher earnings in either case. Online classes allow you to continue working on your own schedule, potentially making money while in school and setting you up for a lifetime of higher earning potential.