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A GED is Worth More than a Fake High School Diploma

By Leonard Williams

For today's student, distance learning is an ffordable way to work toward a GED, the best way for an adult to demonstrate the skills of a high school education. But there are a growing number of companies and schools who aren't really in the business of education. Instead, they're in the education business -- their biggest business is selling quick and easy programs or simple online tests that result with worthless transcripts and fake diplomas.

In most cases, the GED -- the term for General Education Development credential -- is the only official "diploma that has value and is meaningful for adults who never completed their high school education. There are exceptions. But as a rule most transcripts and diplomas ordered or obtained from online high schools are worthless. Unfortunately, students and adult learners are often misled -- and easily misled -- by these diploma factories or diploma mills. Here's a recent letter from a new GED student, who learned about one education business the hard way:

"I paid $250 and got this paper in the mail, but it didn't help me get a better job. It was a ripoff. It wasn't till my boss told me that I found out it wasn't a real high school. It wasn't even a real high school diploma, just something somebody made on a computer. But it looked like a real school. With a real test."

This student's story is typical and more common every day. Many adult learners fall victim to diploma scams, usually paying $200 to $800 in tuition, testing, transcript or diploma fees. But because the school or program isn't accredited, the diploma has no value -- it's meaningless. When it comes to employers, job training programs, tech school, community colleges and universities, bogus diplomas are useless.

But a GED credential is useful. For today's 34 to 38 million adults in the US who never graduated from high school, passing the GED test is a pass key to both career and educational opportunities. Approximately 95 percent of employers and 97 percent of US colleges and universities accept the GED because it's an official, accredited "diploma."

When choosing education, an adult learner's best option is GED prep, whether enrolling in a local class or online preparation program. If online learning or distance learning is the best solution for you, look for a program that includes all the components needed to prepare for the GED test.

Here are some guidelines for choosing a real online GED program provider and avoiding bogus schools or fake diploma scams:

-- The American Council on Education (ACE) has tight guidelines for the GED. The test covers science, social studies, language arts reading and writing, and math - including algebra, geometry and data analysis. Find a program that includes all testing areas; avoid any solution or school that doesn't include all test areas or information about test areas and ACE requirements.

-- GED practice tests are available online and are a good way for a student to determine what to study for the test. But the actual GED test cannot be taken online! The test is only given at official test sites. So avoid any company that claims to offer the official GED test or a quick version online.

-- Read the fine print, before you pay -- make sure you understand what the company or school is offering and determine if it's worth the price. Is it a worthwhile learning process or just a fake diploma? Will it help you move ahead in your career or education? Will the online GED program or learning solution you choose really prepare you for the GED test? Ask for guidance if you're unsure.

-- Look beyond the company or school; discover what other teachers, students and adult learners are saying. Explore GED and education message boards, online forums or learning communities.

-- Be very cautious in dealing with any company or online high school that offers a diploma or transcript after passing an online test. The GED test is difficult; the test is timed and usually takes more than seven hours. So check out the school with your state Department of Education. Basically, just as the old adage says: If it sounds too good to be true it probably is too good to be true.

Education is about the best investment you can make in yourself. Make sure your investment is a good one, and gives you a return that's worthwhile. The GED credential might be harder to get than a $250 diploma, but you can sure count on it to take you to where you want to go.

About The Author
Leonard Williams is a curriculum specialist who focuses on research and development, implementation and assessment of best-practice learning solutions for adult learners and people with educational challenges.

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