GED vs. Online High School — Which Is Right For You?

If you’ve ever thought about finishing high school, you’ve probably heard of the GED. While the GED is a great choice for some students, it’s important to be aware of all of your options before committing to a program. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of the GED, as well as a lesser known (but equally awesome) diploma equivalency option — the Penn Foster Diploma Program.


The GED, or General Education Development, is a series of four tests designed to evaluate your knowledge of math, social studies, language arts, and science. Though all four tests combined take around 7 ½ hours to complete, subjects can be tested separately, and it’s recommended that you only focus on one subject at a time.

Because these tests cover the same information that you would typically learn over the course of four years of high school, it’s important that you study. The GED is scored on a scale of 100-200 points, and in order to pass, you must score at least 145 in every subject (though you need at least a 165 to be considered college-ready).


  • You can take the entire GED in a day (though it’s not recommended).
  • If you already know the material, you don’t have to learn it again.
  • There’s a good chance that you can find a GED prep book at your local library.
  • There are free GED prep resources online.
  • There are no prior education completion requirements.


  • Some prospective employers consider the GED less valuable than a diploma.
  • Individual GED tests results will expire if not completed within the required timeframe. 
  • Not all universities accept the GED.
  • You have to go to a physical location to take the GED.
  • If you started (but didn’t complete) the GED before 2014, you’ll have to take all four sections again.

Tip: If you’re seriously interested in getting your GED, take a practice test and see how you do. If you score well and aren’t interested in going to college, then the GED might be a good option. If you don’t do so hot, consider signing up for Penn Foster.

Penn Foster High School Diploma Program

The Penn Foster High School Diploma Program is a 21.5 credit, online program that guides you through each subject (math, social studies, language arts, and science) and teaches you the material. Rather than taking one big test in each subject like you would with the GED, you complete a variety of smaller quizzes and tests as you go.

Penn Foster is self-paced and extremely flexible, so while you will be provided with an adjustable sample schedule to keep you on track, there are no real deadlines and you can take your tests whenever you feel ready.


  • An accredited high school diploma is considered more valuable by many potential employers and universities than a GED.
  • For the most part, no one cares when you earned your diploma as long as you have it.
  • Universities are more likely to accept a Penn Foster diploma (though you should always check with the school you’re interested in before enrolling in a high school completion program).
  • If you plan to continue on through Guild’s network of universities, all of our programs accept Penn Foster.
  • Penn Foster is an online high school, so they specialize in teaching you the material, not just testing on it.
  • You can get credit for any GED tests that you’ve already passed.


  • The Penn Foster diploma isn’t accepted by universities in all states (check the desired university’s website before enrolling in Penn Foster).
  • It can take longer to get an accredited high school degree than a GED.
  • You have to have passed eighth grade to enroll.

Tip: If you’re heading back to school because you want to go to college, Penn Foster is your best bet. You’ll have an easier time getting into universities, and you’ll get to brush up on your skills before diving into college-level curriculum.

Written by Guild Education
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  • Patrice Pitts says:

    Given up is not an option, I will never let no one tell me what I can do wanna quit working to get my diploma!

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