Here are tips that will help you to apply for college if you have a GED diploma.
Your GED diploma has the same value as a common high school diploma and qualifies you for a college education.
For many students, the college application is an intimidating process, particularly for those that come from a family where a college education is not standard.
Because often the process involves a number of steps, such as getting letters of recommendation and writing an essay, it is recommended for high school students to start working on a to-do list already during their junior year and GED® holders should get organized in a timely manner as well.
By the end of their junior year, high school students should have completed a list of schools that they want to go to and GED graduates should do that too. It is wise to submit applications to not only one college but it all, of course, depends on your particular circumstances.
It’s wise to have a backup college, but if you feel confident enough about your test scores and grades, or your GED College-Ready scores, to get into your preferred school, perhaps you can apply only for just one college. Please check whether the school of your choice accepts GED College-Ready scores!
Be aware, though, that if you only apply to very competitive schools, it could be wiser to submit several applications, like 8 or 10. In general, however, the right number of applications is 4 or 5.
Throughout your junior year in high school, your list of schools will change, but it’s always good to have a pretty strong list to start with by February of that year. GED holders should also keep this timeline in mind.
While preparing to apply to the colleges of your choice by the fall of your high school senior year, and this counts for GED applicants as well, be sure you have all the necessary materials ready for your application.
Every college will require copies of high school or GED transcripts which are obtainable from the records office at your high school or from your account with the GED Testing Service. But there are more items that you should take care of when applying for college.
College Entrance Exams
Though recently we could see a drop in this requirement, many colleges still require applicants to submit college entrance exam scores.
The two commonly used college entrance tests are the SAT and the ACT. These exams assess the things you learned in your high school years.
Today, however, a growing number of colleges and universities will accept GED College-Ready scores in lieu of SAT or ACT scores as well.
There are three GED passing score categories: 145-164 is the high school equivalent range, 165-174 is college-ready, and 175-200 is college-ready PLUS up to 10 credit hours, depending on the subject and the school.
Students that want (or need) to take the SAT or ACT, often do so in the 2nd semester of their high school junior year because this allows for retakes if needed later in that year, at least before their senior year begins.
Letters of Recommendation
Your test scores and grades are telling a school what you have learned and this counts as well for GED graduates. They don’t reveal, however, anything about you and your individual experiences.
So quite a few colleges and universities ask applicants to obtain and submit letters of recommendation. These letters may come from your teachers or any other adults you may know.
You may, for example, and this counts specifically for GED holders, request a letter of recommendation from a sports coach, a manager or supervisor at your job, a faith leader such as a rabbi or pastor at your church, or a personal mentor from outside your school system.
These letters will provide a more rounded picture of you and allow the college or university to get a better idea of you and your character. Keep in mind that practically all institutions of higher education accept a GED in the same way as a general high school diploma.
For high school students counts that usually, the universities and colleges require one or two letters of recommendation written by your teachers when you were in 11th or 12th grade and who taught subjects related to your chosen study path.
So high school students, make sure to ask your teachers for letters of recommendation in a timely manner, preferably by the end of 11th grade, and be sure to choose a teacher that knows you very well. As said before, you may also ask for letters of recommendation from any other adult that knows you well and this particularly counts for GED graduates.
Your Personal Statement/Essay
Additionally, many colleges are eager to learn more about your thoughts and interests, why you want to go to that specific school, your aspirations, perspectives, experiences, and the challenges you’ve faced. This is what your essay or personal statement is all about.
Usually, students will start working on their personal essays during the summer between their junior and senior years and GED holders should also be aware that writing a good essay takes time! When you plan your essay, it is important to understand what it is that the schools would like to hear from and about you.
It is advisable to work with an experienced adult who can advise you, give feedback, and offer suggestions on what and how you write your essay. This process might take some of your precious time, but it will definitely prove to be worth it. And before submitting your essay, you should have someone read it over carefully and edit it!
There are also colleges and universities that require you to meet and discuss your college plans with one of the school’s admissions officers over the phone. Not all colleges and universities require application interviews, but if you apply for a college that does, be sure to make the most of it.
It is important to carefully check the application deadlines. Most deadlines are somewhere around the middle of your senior year, though there are also things like early decision (ED) that can affect this. Many students also want to know if they can join the Navy with a GED and take their education to the next level from there. Check out this article to learn more about this option.
Applying to College Guide
- Complete your free FAFSA application – You can use the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form to apply for financial support for your college education. Both high school grads and GED holders can apply!
- Use the “Common App” – Not all colleges and universities use this popular application platform, but more than 900 colleges across the country do.
- Request Recommendation Letters – GED holders may well ask for letters of recommendation from supervisors or managers at their jobs, faith leaders from their churches, or personal mentors from outside the traditional school system.
- Write your College Essay – You may ask any experienced adult you know to help you write your essay.
- Learn about Tuition Costs and Fees at the College you apply to – This way, you won’t be surprised by any financial disappointments.
- Learn all about Financial Aid – There are so many more resources that will help you make it through college without getting into debt!
- Find Scholarships to Pay for College – Many colleges and universities offer scholarships and you’ll be surprised by your options.
- In Maine, students who graduated from high school or completed the HiSET (formerly GED) can now get 2 years of free tuition and fees at the 7 community colleges in that state!
College Application Platforms
Students (and this counts also for GED graduates) have a number of options when it comes to choosing a college application platform.
A very popular choice is The Common App. This application is used and accepted by over 900 colleges and universities. Students that use The Common App only need to fill out their data once after which they can submit their applications to multiple colleges.
However, when using The Common App, many schools request applicants, in addition to their main applications, to fill out a supplemental section. This part often includes some more essay questions, so be aware that you may require more time for writing.