Sometimes, for whatever reason, finishing high school is not a possibility for students, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to continue their education. Although it can be more challenging to continue into higher education if you don’t have a high school diploma, there are a variety of ways that you can continue into higher education without one.
In this article, we’ll be breaking down some of the more common paths that students can take to enter into higher education without a high school diploma. We’ll talk about some of the more common options that are available and provide you with some tips along the way to help you make the most of your continuing education.
What College Options are Available If You Do Not Have a High School Diploma?
Although you are sometimes limited in terms of the options you have for attending college if you don’t have a high school diploma, there are still ways that you can receive an education. The most common option for going to college if you don’t have a high school diploma is to take a General Education Development test (GED) or a high school equivalency test. Both tests will act as a substitute for a high school diploma and allow you to apply to community colleges and some universities.
If you don’t think that this is the best path for you, you have a few other options. You could look into trade schools, take individual college classes, become a nontraditional college student, or attend an adult high school in your area before going to college. Each of these options is great if you have them in your area, but some can be challenging to find.
Trade schools are a great option for many students because they generally take less time than a traditional college would. Trade schools or vocational schools can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to complete, depending on the trade that you are training for, and you generally graduate with a certification that allows you to practice your trade.
Another great option is to take individual college classes and not enroll as a full-time or even part-time student. Many community colleges and even some public universities will allow you to sign up for just one class. You can slowly start amassing college credits until you feel that you are ready to begin pursuing a degree or certification of some sort. This is one of the most flexible options in terms of the timing of the classes, so this is a great option for someone who is balancing jobs and family alongside their education.
Many colleges and universities will allow students to enroll as nontraditional college students. This means different things for different schools, and each school will have its own set of requirements in order to be considered a nontraditional student, but this generally means that you are a student who is older than the average college student but is still seeking a degree. This is a great option if you are older and want to go back to school.
If your area has an adult high school, then attending an adult high school is an amazing option. This will allow you to continue your education and even receive your high school diploma much later in life. Unfortunately, adult high schools are not as readily available as community colleges and trade schools, so this option is generally more challenging in terms of logistics.
Another option that is worth discussing a little is an alternative high school. If you are a high school student and feel that you are not going to be able to pass high school or are going to have to drop out for whatever reason, it might be worth it to see if your area has an alternative high school. Alternative high schools, often called alt schools, are schools that give out high school diplomas but generally have a much more flexible class schedule, meaning that you have the option to have a nontraditional high school day and take classes around your work schedule. This can help you get your high school diploma, even if you don’t think that high school will work for you.
What Certifications Can You Get Without a High School Diploma?
This is where trade schools come into play. We mentioned trade schools earlier but didn’t really get into what exactly trade schools or vocational schools are. In general, trade schools or vocational schools are short programs ranging in length from a month to a few years that will provide you with the necessary skills to work in a particular trade.
For example, you could go to trade school to become a stonemason. To do this, you would attend trade school for the length of the program and work to prepare for a certification test at the end. If you pass the test, you will receive a certification to work in that field. While it is different from a diploma, a certification is super helpful when you are trying to get a job in your new field.
What are the Programs that Don’t Require a High School Diploma?
There are a variety of programs available that don’t require a high school diploma. We’ve talked a little about vocational schools and trade schools, but a choice that many students go with is a community college. Community colleges typically require you to submit a high school diploma or GED or high school equivalency test, but some are starting to accept either SAT or ACT results without a diploma or GED.
Community college is a place to get your feet under you in terms of college. The great thing about a community college is that it sets you up well to transfer to a full university or college after your first year or two, meaning that you can ultimately get into a university or college without having your high school diploma and sometimes even without having your GED.
You can also stay on at a community college and get your degree there. Typically, community colleges offer associate degrees, which generally take students about two years to complete. Community colleges often offer classes at all hours of the day, meaning that they make higher education much more accessible to someone who may be working while attending school than a traditional college or university will.
What are Your Chances of Getting Financial Aid Without a High School Diploma?
Your chances of getting financial aid without first having a high school diploma depend entirely on the program that you are applying to and what education you have completed. There are a variety of programs out there that are specifically designed to provide financial aid to people who are going through a GED or high school equivalency program. These financial aid programs and scholarship opportunities are great stepping stones to help you get a jump-start on your education.
Since getting your GED or high school equivalency is a good step towards broadening your future educational opportunities, finding financial aid or scholarship program that will support you through one of these programs is the best way to start. Once you have your GED or high school equivalency, you will be able to treat that as a high school diploma in many cases and apply for financial aid or scholarship opportunities down the line.
Most community colleges will have some financial aid options that are generally available to all students. While students who have a high school diploma may be more likely to get merit-based scholarships, every student can apply for financial aid. The challenge with community colleges is that they often have minimal funding, meaning that they are not able to give away large amounts of money in the form of financial aid.
Can You Be Successful Without Passing High School?
Success and attending college are not the same thing at all, so don’t feel like the only way you can be successful is by attending college. If you don’t pass high school or don’t finish high school, for whatever reason, you can still be successful in life. Finding jobs may be harder since many jobs do want you to have a high school diploma or GED, but it is totally possible to be successful without passing high school.
Having a successful life without passing or finishing high school doesn’t look the same for everybody at all. You may find a job that you love and choose to stick with that job, working your way up through the ranks, or you may take over a family company or job, or you might have a completely different path. Understanding what success looks like to you and how you personally define success will be really helpful when it comes to succeeding without a high school diploma.
If you go by the conventional societal idea of success, which often equates success to having money, then it can be much harder to have that kind of success without a high school diploma since many high-paying jobs require a high school diploma and a college degree. This, however, is not the only or best definition of success, so don’t feel like you are not successful if you don’t abide by this definition. Success takes many different forms, and yours will probably look different from the person next to you, but that’s ok.
What Are Some Jobs that Don’t Require a High School Diploma?
There are two main categories of jobs that you can get without a high school diploma, but this is by no means a complete list. If the circumstances are right, you have a possibility of getting any number of jobs, regardless of your educational background. Generally, though, people who don’t have a high school diploma will either work in the service industry in some capacity or attend a trade school and practice a trade.
Although working in the service industry is sometimes frowned upon, there are so many job options within the service industry, and many of these jobs have great potential for upward mobility or the ability to work your way up towards a managerial or higher paid job. This industry includes everything from being a clerk at a grocery store to working in a retail store to becoming a certified guide in the outdoor industry and everything in between.
The other common category of jobs that people can get without a high school diploma is a trade-related job. Attending trade school is a great option if you don’t have a high school diploma since it gives you access to a certification that will allow you to practice that trade. Trades include all types of jobs that make our society function, including everything from a carpenter to a plumber.
While these are some of the main categories of jobs that you can get without a high school diploma, don’t feel like these are the only jobs that you can get if you don’t have a high school diploma. So many jobs are about proving that you have the skills are so many skills can be self-taught using the internet and books. Understanding how to market yourself is oftentimes much more important to getting a job than having a high school diploma.
Wrapping Things Up: Can You Go to College Without Passing High School?
There is no straightforward answer to if you can go to college without passing high school, but there are a lot of options out there for students who don’t have their high school diploma. From community colleges and trade schools to GED and high school equivalency programs, there are plenty of options to help you continue your education and even get into higher education without a high school diploma. Don’t feel discouraged if you want to continue your education but don’t have your high school diploma. There are options out there that will work for you!