I Dropped Out – But I Want to Go to College!
For whatever reason, you didn’t make it through high school. That doesn’t mean that higher education is out of reach. There are a variety of options still available to you. You may not be able to get into every program at every school, but everyone has a shot at getting into a post-secondary program with any academic background, with or without a high school diploma.
Getting Your GED
GED stands for General Educational Development, and refers to the set of tests taken to obtain a high school equivalency certificate. In order to take the tests, you must be at least 18 years of age, have not graduated from high school, and must have been out of high school for at least a year.
The tests provide a means for those who did not complete a formal high school program to show high school-level knowledge and skills. They cover reading, writing, mathematics, social studies and science.
A GED is typically used to provide evidence of a high school-level education, and is commonly accepted in the work force as equivalent to a high school diploma. It’s not always accepted by universities as an academic assessment for university-level studies, however.
Apply to an Open University
Open universities are universities which do not require a high school diploma or GED as a prerequisite for enrolling in courses. Anyone can apply at any time.
After a year’s worth of courses from an open university, a student is considered to be a transfer student and can then transfer to a conventional university on the basis of these marks as opposed to high school grades.
Apply as a Mature Student
Each college or university has their own standards on what qualifies one as a mature student, but typically a mature student is one who has reached a certain age, which might be anywhere between 19 and 21; who has been out of school for a certain amount of time, generally 1-2 years; and who does not possess the academic prerequisites expected of recent high school graduates, meaning a mature student may or may not have a high school diploma or GED.
Mature students may be admitted on the basis of life or work experience, regardless of past academic performance. Some programs will require entrance tests to place the student at the right level, others will admit mature students on a trial basis, and others can forge ahead at full speed.
Remember that learning is more important than schooling. It may be that completing a degree or diploma program isn’t the right fit right now. Also consider certificate programs which are often shorter, and carry immediate, real-world applications.
It’s never too late
Once you know what programs you’re interested in, pick up the phone and call the admissions office. Speak to someone who can walk you through the process, as specific requirements are going to be different for each school. Make an appointment to speak with someone one-on-one to sort out your options.
You may have to jump through a few hoops, but that determination can pay off. Remember, most university admissions are governed by a general policy, not law. Rules can be bent or broken if you’re able to show why you should be there.