Yes, if you hold a GED® diploma, there’s nothing that should hold you back from enrolling in a community college.
Actually, GED Testing Service (the official GED organization) states that more than 60 percent of GED graduates continue their education in college.
Your GED diploma is recognized and accepted by practically all U.S. employers and institutions of higher education in the same way as a traditional high school degree.
In America, all community colleges are accepting the GED in lieu of a high school diploma and many 2-year colleges work with open admissions policies meaning that most people, also those holding a GED or high school credential can sign up for courses at these schools.
To be sure, however, check with your local college to learn all about their admission requirements. Often, you’ll have to take a placement test to demonstrate you’ve got the skills and knowledge required to successfully attend college-level courses in a specific subject area.
Based on how you perform on these college-entrance tests, you may have to take remedial coursework before you’re allowed to enroll in credit-bearing courses.
The best-known college placement tests are the SAT or ACT, but also GED College-Ready scores are increasingly accepted by schools. There are also several state-specific college placement tests, for example, PERT (Florida), PSAT (California), and TSI (Texas).
Check also with the school if they have specific admission requirements for your preferred academic program.
There are degree-granting programs, such as law enforcement and certain healthcare program, that have stringent requirements whereas other programs, for example continuing education courses, do often not require students to hold a secondary education degree (high school or GED diploma) at all.
Colleges that accept the GED
As said before, practically all colleges accept a GED in lieu of a common high school diploma. But there are more factors that influence college acceptance so be wise and don’t put all your eggs just in one college application.
Some colleges may give you a harder time to get accepted if you hold a GED, an acronym for General education Development. The fact of the matter is that the more competitive the college, the more you’ll need to compensate for some holes in your college application. So be wise and apply to more than just one school.
Keep in mind, though, that your GED may not qualify you directly. As said earlier, many colleges, and particularly 4-year colleges and universities, will require you to submit SAT or ACT scores as well if you didn’t score in the GED College-Ready or GED College-Ready Plus Credit ranges. More about the GED scoring system later.
Community college, technical college, junior college
The majority of community colleges, technical colleges, and junior colleges use “open enrollment” policies, meaning you’re not required to hold a high school or GED diploma to sign up for their courses.
They will require you to be at least 18 of age and you’ll have to fill out an application form. So even if you’re looking to earn a bachelor’s degree, it may be a good idea to first enroll in a community, technical, or junior college. Many homeschooled students looking to enroll in community college prefer to first earn a GED, just to make sure their secondary education credential will be accepted.
Let’s look at some advantages of first attending a community college. This allows you to:
- Fulfill academic course requirements at probably a very affordable rate
- Demonstrate you can handle college-level coursework
- Earn a certificate or AA degree in specialized academic fields
Usually, if you want to earn a bachelor’s degree, you’ll have to transfer to a 4-year college, though in some states, we can see more and more community colleges starting to offer bachelor’s degree programs as well.
So attending a community college offers you the opportunity to start working on a bachelor’s degree. A 2-year degree from an accredited institution will bump your application to a 4-year school ahead, particularly if you have maintained academic achievement and a strong GPA.
College and university application
So in case you’re looking to attend a 4-year college or university and want to experience traditional on-campus life, your GED diploma will still get you there, but the road might be a bit longer and tougher.
But since not all academic institutions, particularly some highly competitive top-notch schools, will treat your GED credential in the same way as a high school diploma, it could be wise to focus specifically on schools that mention GED acceptance in their application requirements.
On the other hand, since the introduction of the latest, fully computer-based GED test version, the number of schools that recognize and accept GED College-Ready scores has steadily increased.
Please be aware that when we say here GED (General Education Development), we refer to any of the three available high school equivalency (HSE) tests in the U.S.
There are states that use the TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion) or the HiSET (High School Equivalency Test) for this purpose and a growing number of states offer multiple options.
Financial aid with a GED
Your GED diploma makes you eligible for federal financial aid in the same way as a common high school credential does.
You can apply for grants and loans, and don’t forget that there are a ton of scholarships that you can also apply for. Chances are that you are a typical “nontraditional student,” and this may qualify you for some pretty unique scholarship opportunities. Wouldn’t that be great?
The first thing to do is completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA lets the federal government determine how much financial help you require and allows you to connect to government financial aid programs that you can apply for.
There are often also scholarships available to you from the school you apply to. Just check out the school’s website and in particular the financial aid department section.
So students with a GED are just as eligible for federal student aid programs as high school grads as long as they meet other student aid requirements, such as demonstrating satisfactory academic progress and maintaining enrollment.
Is a GED different from a regular diploma?
The way a GED is earned differs quite a lot from how a high school diploma is earned. The GED exam takes a little over 7 hours to complete, though the four subtests may be taken separately, while a high school diploma takes four years to achieve.
The GED exam is only available to individuals that don’t have a common high school diploma and are not signed up for another education program.
This implies that 100 percent of GED holders did not complete their high school curriculum. There could be very valid reasons why a person quit high school prematurely but holding a GED might very well require admissions officers to look a little deeper into your application.
If they have so many applications to sort through, they might look somewhat differently at the applications of GED graduates. It’s definitely not that holding a GED is bad, but it only provides the academic equivalent of a standard high school degree.
GED score chart
The GED exam contains four individual modules (subtests) that cover the academic subject areas of Science, Social Studies, Reasoning through Language Arts, and Mathematics.
The modules are measured on a 100 to 200 scale and you must attain at least a 145 score on EACH of the four subtests. So the minimally required overall score is 580, but even if you reach a much higher overall score while your score on one of the modules is below 145, you have NOT passed the GED test.
The scoring system for the four GED subtests is as follows:
- 100-144: GED Below Passing Score
- 145-164: This is the GED High School Equivalent Score
- 164-174: This is the GED College-Ready Score
- 175-200: This is the GED College-Ready Plus College Credit Score (up to 10 credits)
GED college-ready scores
When you take the GED subtests, you can earn a College-Ready score in all of the four subtests, 165 and up. This indicates that you have demonstrated to be ready to successfully attend credit-bearing college-level academic programs.
This also means that, depending on the school, you may be exempt from having to take a college-entrance placement test or attending remedial classes before you’ll be allowed to enroll in college courses.
Some students earn a GED score that’s high enough to attain the GED College-Ready Plus College Credit status (175 and up). You will generally have the requirement of taking a college-entrance test waived (depending on the school) and, additionally, you may qualify for receiving up to 10 college credits, depending as well on the school and the subject field.
This will actually save you a lot of money and time since you’ll not be required to take extra classes to qualify for college-level coursework. Keep in mind, though, that awarding college credits is at the discretion of the university or college you apply to.
Having attained College Ready + Credit GED scores can earn you up to 3 Science credits, 3 Social Studies credits, 3 Mathematics credits, and 1 Humanities credit.
Getting ready for college
Earning strong scores on the GED subtests will demonstrate that you are totally ready for success in college. Using this website’s free online study resources is a great way to ensure that you’ll attain those results. There are also many community colleges, such as CNM (Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque) that offer in-class and online GED instruction, workshops and study groups, and more help to let GED students be successful and enroll in their credit-bearing courses.
Our support includes numerous free self-paced video lessons, practice tests, and quizzes that cover all subject matter that’s on the GED exam. Taking practice tests allows you to discover which areas you need to focus on and require most of your precious study time.
Do employers treat you differently with a GED?
Well, when you have graduated from college with an academic degree, most employers probably don’t care, or usually don’t even want to know, whether you did so with a GED or with a high school diploma.
Perhaps they don’t even care much about your college degree if the position you’re applying to doesn’t require you to hold the degree in the first place.
What employers are interested in is whether or not you command the knowledge, skills, and experience that’s necessary to be successful in the position that you’ve applied for.
But what happens if you don’t finish your college degree, or if you want a job during your years in college?
The fact of the matter is that today, the GED diploma is so much more relevant to workforce requirements than it was years ago. Though the GED exam has been around for almost 80 years (it was introduced in 1942), the most recent edition is more in line with workforce requirements and academic expectations than earlier versions.
Most employers, however, are probably not aware of or familiar with these updates so they might not appreciate your GED diploma in the same way you and academic institutions do.
Unfortunately, the majority of employers will probably have no clue that the GED has changed so much recently, and quite a few employers are still bound to have some sort of negative perception of the GED credential.
Well, the fact of the matter is that your GED diploma is a legitimate and valuable path to a great college education and a rewarding career. So if, for whatever reason, you couldn’t complete your high school education, earning a GED will definitely be the right path towards a better future.
Last Updated on December 9, 2020.