High School Diploma vs GED: Does It Matter Which One I Get?

You’ve been thinking about it for a while but you want to go back to school to get your college degree. There is a problem with that. You didn’t complete high school so all you have is a GED.

Can you get into the colleges you want with that? Of course, you can! A GED is equivalent to a high school diploma so most colleges will accept it when considering you for admission. 

There are fewer stigmas that go along with having a high school diploma vs GED though. Keep reading to find out what these stigmas are and a little bit more about if it’s better to have a high school diploma or GED.

1. High School Diploma 

Going to a traditional school is the standard when it comes to getting a high school diploma. It tells colleges and jobs that you’ve completed the required coursework set in front of you by the district. 

With the high school diploma comes transcripts for all the classes you took while in school. Transcripts are required to get into many colleges.

2. GED

The GED or General Education Diploma started back in World War II in order to give veterans a chance to graduate high school and go to college. Citizens were allowed to take it as well.  

From there it was used as a way for people to prove themselves and get into the workforce. Today, it’s for people who just want a second chance to graduate high school. 


There are certain criteria you need to meet in order to take the test and get your GED. First, you can’t be a graduate from a high school of any kind.

Two, You can’t be currently enrolled in a high school. Three, you must be at least 16 years old. 

Subjects on the Test 

You’re going to be tested on all the core subjects that people are taught in high school. So, you’ll need to study reading, math, writing, science, and social studies before the test. 

All of the questions are multiple-choice with the exception of a short essay during the writing section. In order to pass you have to make a good score during each section and have a high combined score as well.  Once you pass you’ll be given your GED certificate. 


Beware of websites that tell you that you can earn your GED through them. A GED that’s gotten via the web won’t be recognized by colleges, jobs, or the military. 

For your GED to count you have to take it at an official center. There is one use you can get out of these online programs and tests though. You can use them as a study method to get prepared for the real thing. 

3. Is a GED Equivalent to a High School Diploma?

The answer is yes. Getting a GED is equivalent to getting your high school diploma in a traditional school. You can use it to apply for colleges. In fact, as long as you have a least a GED and you get a good ACT/SAT score you’ll be able to get into most any college you want. 

You can also list your GED in the education section of your resume and still get the job you’ve had your eye on if you have the right skillset for it. 

4. The Advantages and Disadvantages of Both 

There are many advantages and disadvantages to both getting a high school diploma and a GED. As far as getting a high school diploma being in a classroom amongst your peers gives you life experience you don’t get when you go for your GED.  

High school diplomas are accepted about anywhere in the US and abroad as well. The only disadvantage of a high school diploma is that it takes you 4 years of schooling to get. It’s much faster to get a GED and it’s great for people who are past the regular high school age. 

The problem with GEDs is that while they’re accepted in most places in the US, they’re not always accepted abroad. The test also takes more preparation then you think it would. It’s not a walk in the park. 

5. Acceptance  

Again, both high school diplomas and GEDs are accepted when applying for colleges. The difference is that there is financial aid available to high school graduates that might not be available to those who complete their GED. 

Also, if you apply for a job with a GED and someone else applies for the same job but they have a high school diploma, they are probably going to get the job. It’s unfortunate but there is a stigma around having your GED. 

6. The Stigma 

There are stigmas centered around the GED that while are slowly starting to go away, aren’t gone yet. Some colleges believe that people with a GED aren’t as ready for higher learning as people with a high school degree. 

It’s less that they don’t believe they are ready academically and more that they don’t believe they are ready socially. Jobs also tend to pay those who only have a GED less then they would a high school graduate due to stigmas. 

High School Diploma vs GED: Does it Make a Difference?

Are you thinking of applying to schools with your GED? You’re in luck because most colleges do accept them the same as they would a high school diploma.

There fewer stigmas that come with having a high school diploma vs GED but at the end of the day, the two are one and the same. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Have you lost your GED or Diploma? We can provide a backup. Go here to check out our shop