GED vs High School Diploma: How to Decide Which Is Right for Your Child

Sending your child to high school may seem like the obvious path, but there’s more to the GED vs diploma argument than meets the eye. Here’s how to decide.

What if there was a better option for your child’s education?

Parents naturally want to do what is right for their children. And most parents believe that a traditional high school education will best prepare their kids for the future.

However, the GED offers a viable alternative to a high school diploma. And it even offers certain advantages that a traditional diploma does not.

How can you decide on GED vs diploma? Keep reading to discover which one is right for your child.

The Social Experience

The GED itself is just a long test. While taking it can potentially save someone time (more on this later), it doesn’t offer any kind of social experience for children.

For many parents, socialization is one of the biggest benefits of traditional education. School isn’t just about their child learning science, mathematics, and English. It’s also about learning how to work and play well with others.

If you want your child to have that kind of social experience, the high school route may be better. But if your child is sufficiently socialized (or maybe just in a hurry to go to college), the GED may be best.

Saving Time

It’s easy to see why some students prefer the GED to traditional high school education. After all, the GED only takes about 7 hours to complete. Compare that to spending 4 long years in high school!

When it comes to saving time, you can’t really beat the GED. And a child can take this test as soon as they are 16 years old.

If they successfully complete the GED, it will open many doors for your kid at a younger age. In fact, the child may be able to go to college much earlier than their peers.

College Prospects

Does having a GED enable someone to apply to colleges? Yes. However, there are a few hidden “X” factors that you should be aware of.

The first one is blunt, but true: many college admissions offices consider a high school diploma to be a little more valuable than a GED. To them, time is time, and they will assume the 4 years of high school education were more rigorous than simply passing a single test.

Now, someone with a GED can still get into any number of programs, especially if they have a solid score on the SAT or ACT exam. But if the admissions office was weighing 2 otherwise equal candidates, one with a GED and one with a diploma, they are likelier to favor the one with the diploma.

Earning Power

When deciding between a GED path and the high school diploma, many parents turn this into a numbers game. They want to know which one is going to offer their child more earning power in the future.

The honest answer to this question depends on what they do next. By themselves, a GED and a high school diploma have the same earning power, though some local employers may favor high school graduates.

However, plenty of students go on to go to college or join the military. From there, college or military experience helps determine your earning power and whether you got a GED or high school diploma is moot.


There is another “X” factor when it comes to getting a job with the GED. In some cases, hiring personnel may have to spend more time verifying an applicant’s GED credentials.

The reason for this is simple: to a local business, the local high school is a known quantity. If someone has a high school diploma from such a school, the business knows (more or less) what kind of education they received.

Meanwhile, the GED may be administered at testing centers all throughout the state. Because a testing center in another city is less of a known quantity, the business may want to call them and verify things like GED results.

Because of this, some businesses may be likelier to hire a high school graduate than someone with a GED because it saves them time.

Military Standards

We have focused a lot on graduates entering college or entering their local workforce. Some graduates, though, are going to join the military instead. So, how does GED vs high school diploma factor into this situation?

The short answer is that a GED makes it a little harder to enter into the military. One reason is that they consider a GED a “Tier 2 education” and place limits on how many Tier 2 applicants they accept. In some cases, those limits are very strict (less than 1% for the Air Force).

On top of that, someone with a GED must score higher on the ASVAB test than a high school graduate to enter the military. This may be less of an issue if your child tests will, but it is an additional hurdle to consider. The actual reason for this would be that US military believes joining the service goes past just firing a weapon. Yes, it involves skills,
agility, durability and accuracy as much as it involves knowing your weapon, and matching AR-10 rifles and AR-10 upper’s.They use the ASVAB test to ascertain whether an applicant has the skills to join the service, and for what role they might be best suited.

Which Is Best?

That brings us to the big question: what is the best choice between GED and high school diploma?

As you can tell, there is no one answer to this. For someone who will either go right into the workforce or apply to colleges, there is not an immediate benefit one way or the other (though having a diploma can give a very slight edge versus having a GED).

To someone wanting to go into the military, though, the high school diploma is much more valuable. In fact, having a GED significantly decreases their odds of joining military service at all.

The Importance of Preparation

The GED condenses years of high school testing into a single, 7-hour test. How, then, can someone pass this test?

Practice, practice, practice! Taking free GED classes online can help you ace the test on your first try. This is very important for students (and parents) that want to save time.

GED Vs Diploma: Beyond Education

Now you know more about GED vs diploma. But do you know who can help your child put their education to use?

We specialize in all things education. To see how we can help your child with their post-education career, check out our Education Online section!

Luna Griffin
Luna Griffin is a specialist in English literature at the Orlando University and longtime work as a writer at - essay writing services that provide all students with any types of written assignments in all disciplines. She always wanted to become a writer and publish a book that will become a new contribution to the literature. She started career as an English Tutor after which she started to show interest in child psychology research. She is currently working on a variety of topics related to studying the state of modern education.