How to attend university without a high school diploma

Lena Heckmann & John Roman, U-Multirank

October 29, 2019 13:30 (CET)

How to attend university without a high school diploma

A high school diploma is commonly needed to attend college or university, and without it the admission process can be complicated, but still possible. There are several ways in the US to go to university without a high school diploma:

  • Many schools offer non-traditional student programmes with admission criteria, such as life and work experiences. The term ‘non-traditional student’ is typically used for those students who’ve taken a break for at least six years between high school and college.
  • Another possible way to learn at university is for students to take individual classes without being admitted to a university. Students who choose this route can only receive a limited amount of credits and will not receive a degree. These students are called non-degree seeking students. This option is ideal for students who want to attend a specific course, or gain a certain skill or knowledge needed for their job, but don’t want to commit to a complete study programme. Also, some colleges allow students to attend courses through certificate programmes.
  • Another option is dual enrolment, which means students can take college classes while still in high school. Depending on the US-state there are several types of dual enrolments and each state sets the standards for course options and earning credits.
  • Other options for students to explore, are career schools. These types of schools offer a special foci on particular professions or skills, without requiring a high school diploma. Some of these schools even offer preparation courses for the GED-test (General Education Development or General Education Diploma). The GED or High School Equivalency Certificate shows that you have a level of knowledge equivalent to a high school graduate and it is internationally recognised.
  • Home-schooled students are also recruited to colleges. For getting into college, they can apply even without a GED or high school diploma by supplying additional materials. These may include portfolios, curriculum outlines and reading lists in lieu of transcripts.
  • Our last tip for attending college without a high school diploma is to attend community college. Community colleges enrol adult students without high school credentials and even provide students the opportunity to take remedial courses to catch up.

Keep in mind, that some of these tips may not apply in various countries, as the requirements can vary. So make sure you fully inform yourself about possibilities and opportunities how to study without a high school diploma.


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