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Online High School vs GED

If you're looking to get out of a regular high school, there are multiple options. While homeschooling and unschooling are probably the best ways to learn, they don't typically provide you with a diploma or some kind of "proof" that you can give to a college or employer. As far as diplomas go, there are generally two options: a high school diploma, or a GED. Let's take a look at both.


Requirements to get a GED: To take a GED test, you must not be enrolled in high school, nor can you already have graduated. You must be over the age of 16 (or 17, or 18 - depending on what state you're in), and there may be some other requirements as well.

The test: You have to pass a series of tests in 5 subjects. You have to score higher than 60% of a sample set of other graduates in order to pass. So your passing score isn't dependant on the actual score you get - it depends on the scores other people get.

There are no studying requirements in order to take the test. It may be a good idea to take some practice tests first, so that you get an idea of how well you can do.

The actual exams take about 7 hours altogether.

The GED diploma is generally considered to be equal to a normal diploma. Some people consider it inferior, however. But if you get into college with a GED and get a college degree, no employer will care that you did it with a GED.

Most colleges will accept a GED, but not all will. Some colleges that have specialized courses may take issue with the GED because it's too generalized.

Online High School Diploma

Requirements for an online high school diploma: Some online high schools may or may not have age requirements, but generally you should be able to complete high school a couple of years earlier than other students your age, if you want to and can get all the work done fast. Curriculum varies depending on where you live.

A high school diploma from an online school is considered equivalent to a regular high school diploma, if and only if the online school is properly accredited. This is a very important thing to pay attention to. If it is properly accredited, no college or employer should have any second thoughts about its perceived value. If you graduate from a state sponsored online high school, you have a normal high school diploma.

Pros and cons of online high school


  • You can work at a speed that works for you. Speed up when you want, slow down when you need more time. You don't have to wait for other students or the teacher.
  • You can change your schedule to suit you. Take time off when you want. Arrange your classes around other stuff you want to do, rather than the other way around.
  • It's easier to avoid distractions and focus on getting stuff done. None of that social pressure nonsense. No bullies. No mean teachers.
  • You can specialize in subjects that are interesting to you, without having to spend any more time than necessary on stuff you find boring.
  • You can get your diploma early if you really want to. Maybe even a few years earlier.


  • If you actually like things like prom, senior day and other events like that, well, most online schools don't have any of that.
  • Some subjects can be more difficult if you don't have a physical person you can talk to about it.
  • Some people may have more trouble focusing on getting work done without a teacher or other person physically present to "encourage" them to work.
  • If the school isn't accredited, your diploma won't be accepted by colleges or employers, or anyone else.
  • Online schools can be expensive unless you find a state sponsored one, and if you don't already have a computer with internet that may set you back as well, unless you sign up with a charter school that provides you with a computer and internet.

Types of online high schools

Online Private Schools

Generally, these are independent from government regulation. They have their own philosophy which varies between schools, they have their own regulations and they can have their own curriculum. They're generally expensive since parents have to pay for everything, hardware, software, textbooks and whatever else.

They may be accredited by proper associations, but this isn't always the case. Make sure that colleges will actually accept the transcript if you sign up with one that isn't accredited.

Private schools vary in quality levels, some will be a lot better than others. You'll need to ask them a lot of questions before you enroll.

University-based Online High Schools

Some established universities are starting their own online high schools as well - so if you've got your mind set on a particular university, that may be a good way to get in.

Costs and admission policies vary a lot, so be sure to ask about that. Also be sure that it's properly accredited. Some of these schools will allow you to get some college credits while you're finishing high school as well.

Online Charter Schools

If there are charter schools in your state, you might be able to finish high school online for free. Charter schools are government sponsored, but they are not as tightly regulated as public high schools. They are generally accredited properly, and don't charge tuition. You may even get a free computer and internet access if you don't already have it. Be sure to ask the school about their requirements and admission policies, and what subjects they specialize in.

Online Public High Schools

Some public high schools have online classes as well. These are also free and accredited properly, just like charter schools. The main difference is that they're more tightly regulated like normal public schools. You might be able to get a free computer and internet from these, but that isn't always the case. Be careful though, some online public schools are meant as an addition to the regular classes, and won't actually give you a diploma. So be sure to ask about that before you sign up.

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Posted in: Resources by Logan on September 11, 2009 @ 8:03 AM

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