GED is an acronym for the General Educational Development program. It involves a comprehensive examination that covers the following areas: functional English, mathematics, science, literature and the arts. Most of the test is multiple choice, but there is an essay in the functional English section. Once passed, the testee receives either a high school diploma or a high school equivalency certificate (it depends on the state) The passing rate is set by the particular state, but is usually a bit more than 50%. The age requirement is also set by the state. It ranges from 16 to 18 years of age.

The GED is a great way for high school dropouts to cheaply (around $40) get a diploma. This diploma allows access to jobs that require high school, and 95% of colleges accept GED holders for admission. Many say that a GED is not as good as a real high school diploma. However, the GED test is calibrated so that one-third of high school graduates can not pass it. Having a GED indicates that you have passed an exam that tests competency in the basic skills everyone "should" have learned in high school. Having a conventional high school diploma indicates that you warmed a seat for 12 years.

GEDs are often (but not always) regarded as a kind of cop out from finishing high school, and I'd imagine the stereotypical GED grad is viewed as someone who dropped out of high school and then entered a GED preparation program (i.e., Alternative High School Equivalency Preparation or AHSEP). However, from what I saw when I took my GED test, many test takers are older. Some are in their 20s and others in their 30s and a few in their 40s. There is no age limit as to when you can get your GED, and the only requirement is that you don't have a standard high school diploma.

Some GED grads couldn't get their regular diplomas because they were home schooled and others dropped out. Those are two reasons why someone might choose to get their GED. Despite that, there is an obvious stigma associated with earning your GED. I specifically remember being told that an employer would see that I have a GED and assume I either didn't do well in school or was a troublemaker (and that's quite possible and probably true, after all at least one person assumed that). I'd say most drop outs stopped going to school because they didn’t fit in. But the reality of having a GED a lot less harsh, after all anything is possible. However, don't think it will be easier than getting your High School Diploma (probably with Advanced Designation if you learned a Second Language, at least in NYS). You might have to make up a few classes in college or take you SATs in addition to your GED, but for someone who doesn't fit in to the status quo or has some other reason as to why they can't go to school, earning your GED is sometimes a better choice. Just make sure you know what your about to do.

I'm told by Tem42 that "None of the (American) home schoolers I know got a GED, including myself. Most states will allow homeschools to write out an official transcript, and if desired, a 'degree' or certificate of completion, or whatever. And a transcript from a homeschool looks better to a college than does a GED."

Some do consider a getting a GED as a cop out, but as an educator, I see it as getting back on track.

I've seen several adult students picking up GEDs to get into college. They've seen what it's like, and how hard it is to get a decent job that can support a family. They make the call to better themselves, or to show their kids that the way to a better life is through education.

Another group that returns for that missing sheepskin are older folks, like my Mother. She had nothing to prove, as she was retired. She went back and picked up her GED for her self-esteem. It was one piece she always regretted skipping out on. She pushed me to go to college, and her studying for the GED went a long way towards showing me it was worth the trouble. She ended up passing away about two years after she completed it, but she was almost as proud as I was of her accomplishments.

So don't put someone down because of a GED. At least they jumped through the hoops to get theirs done. Give them some credit, and encourage them to continue on to college.

It's a certification some people simply cram to get, because of being sick and tired of the lack of upward mobility inherent in a life without a high school diploma.

It's also significantly easier to get than a bona fide high school diploma, but has a connotation that the person was some kind of drop out. For this reason, the joke is that the acronym stands for "Good Enough Diploma".

Ged, Gedd (), n.

The European pike.


© Webster 1913.

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