GED by Mail Programs Overview

Though the GED exams cannot be taken by mail, students can receive high school diplomas by completing distance learning programs. These programs provide an at-home option for diploma hopefuls, but they may not be considered legitimate by some institutions or employers.

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GED Testing By Mail

The General Educational Development (GED) exam allows adults who did not graduate high school to receive a credential that is considered by all 50 states and by more than 95% of colleges and employers to be the equivalent of a high school diploma, according to The American Council on Education (ACE), which administers the GED exam. A GED credential cannot be earned via mail, the Internet or any other way aside from sitting for an official GED exam at an authorized GED testing center, according to ACE. However, some online high schools and career schools offer high school diplomas that can be earned through the mail or online study.

Online High School Diploma Programs

The schools that offer students a high school education in a distance learning setting are legally unable to offer GED certification to their students. Instead, these schools confer high school diplomas to students. The level of commitment from the student depends on the school. Some schools require their students to complete lengthy programs of study, while other schools award diplomas after the completion of a test or proof of sufficient life experience is provided.

Credibility of Online High School Diploma Programs

Schools that offer high school diplomas through the mail or through the Internet based on life experience without requiring a student to take significant coursework are considered 'diploma mills,' according to the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov). Credentials issued by diploma mills are often rejected by employers, colleges and the military, and people using diploma mill credentials to get a job or promotion may be prosecuted for fraud.

A quick Web search can make potential students aware of an online high school's reputation. The true test of the validity of a high school diploma, though, is the school's accreditation. Each state's board of education has a list of recognized accrediting agencies that vet online schools, including schools offering high school diplomas, to assess business practices and the quality of education offered. High school diplomas from accredited correspondence programs are substantially equal to a diploma from a traditional high school; however, diplomas granted by schools that are not accredited by a state-recognized accrediting agency are not valid for any purpose.

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