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Can You Go To College with a GED? 3 Things Non-traditional Students Need to Know

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Can you go to college with a GED? The good news is that most colleges today treat a GED just like a high school diploma. Successfully completing high school or the GED equivalency test is a critical part of reaching your academic goals. Whether you recently chose to leave high school without finishing or you're a non-traditional student looking into your options after years out of the classroom, a GED is often the best way to begin on the path toward higher education. Here's a closer look at what you need to know about getting into college with a GED.

1. What is the GED?

When individuals leave high school before graduating, they often look for opportunities to finish up that credential in order to improve their job prospects, qualify for next steps in the military, or open the door to higher education. The GED, which stands for General Education Development, is a high school equivalency test that's recognized in the majority of U.S. states. In order to pass the test, you'll need to demonstrate your knowledge in math, English and other general education courses at the high-school level.

According to the GED Testing Service, in 2013, 743,000 people completed the GED test and nearly 560,000, or 75%, passed.1 Going to college with a GED is certainly possible; in fact, attending college is a significant goal for people completing the GED. In 2013, 64% of candidates listed "educational reasons," which include the desire to attend two- or four-year colleges, among the reasons why they took the GED test.2

2. How does a GED change the application process?

If you're looking at how to get into college with a GED, the good news is that typically, holding a GED doesn't substantially change the college application process. As part of your application, you'll be required to submit proof that you successfully completed the test in the same way that candidates submit verification of completing high school. You'll also be required to submit the completed application, essays, letters of recommendation, and any other supporting materials required.

Don't be afraid to face your decision to pursue education with a GED head-on. It can be an important component of your personal statement or college essays, exploring your educational journey and your commitment to ongoing learning. If you're concerned about how the GED will impact your college experience, reach out to an admissions advisor to learn more.

3. Building on your GED for academic success

Preparation for passing the GED can serve as an excellent foundation for your academic experience in college. Most GED prep courses cover five essential areas: math, science, social studies, reading skills and writing skills. The information and study skills that you learn during that process can be applied directly to your college courses – both general education requirements and within your major. Talk to your admissions or academic advisor about learning more and finding additional resources to help support you during your studies.

Colleges admit students every year with GEDs. Don't let the fact that you hold a GED hold you back from pursuing your academic goals.

Considering going back to school to pursue your degree? Download our Back to School Guide.

1 The GED Testing Service, 2013 Annual Statistical Report on the GED® Test, p.2, on the Internet at (visited 2/1/2015)

2 The GED Testing Service, 2013 Annual Statistical Report on the GED® Test, p.32, on the Internet at (visited 2/1/2015)

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