How to Get High School Diploma For Adults over 21 (2023)

Many high schools offer High School Adult Diploma Programs for adults over 21 with highly flexible methods.

You can either get an official high school diploma or be well prepared to take on the GED exam.

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It doesn’t matter when you left school.

In the U.S. you are only allowed into high school until you are 21, and once you’re over that age, you will have to go to an adult high school.

Many adults are unaware that the GED® test is not their only possibility of obtaining a high school diploma.

Quite a few community high schools offer evening or weekend classes for adults that are designed for adults whose academic skills are at a 9th-grade level or above and who have not completed high school.

Adult high school diploma or GED diploma?

Some schools offer both a High School Diploma for Adults as well as GED Preparation and Testing. So which is the best option for you?

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(Video) Adult online high school diploma completion programs

That depends on a few factors. One of the most important points of consideration is your available time. Very often, the GED test is a faster way to achieve your goal but taking the High School diploma route has its advantages as well.

The Adult High School (AHS) diploma is accepted by colleges and universities throughout the country and is regarded as the same as any public or private high school diploma.

Contact your local community college and talk with a counselor or teacher-adviser to determine which option fits your lifestyle and your short-term and long-term goals.

Regardless of whether you just missed out on graduation last year or 50 years ago, it is never too late or too early to get your high school diploma or equivalency.

How to choose an adult high school

So, yes, you may feel nervous or anxious about making the final decision. Relax and enjoy the experience. You should feel excited about your options and the amazing four years that lie ahead.

Follow the tips below when thinking about each school. It may help to compare your acceptances side by side and rank each school or make a list of pros and cons for each.

  • Visit the schools you are considering. If you have already visited once, consider going back. Visiting the school with the perspective of an admitted student may cause you to look at it in a whole new way. Not to mention, college campuses can change a lot from year to year. When you visit the school, be sure to talk to students on campus, visit a class in session, and stop and sit for 30 minutes at a busy place on campus.
  • Talk to your friends, your parents, and your counselor. You will be the one ultimately making the decision, but sometimes it can help to hear other people’s opinions. They may bring up points you hadn’t considered.
  • Consider if the school is an academic fit. Do they have a strong program in your major? If you are undecided, do they offer enough majors of interest? Is there a variety of departments and courses that get your interest? How will you handle the workload? Will you be challenged enough? Does the school offer programs like study abroad, research opportunities for undergrads, or internships? What is the graduation rate? How do graduates do with job placement and graduate school acceptance?
  • Consider if the school is a social fit. How do you feel about the location? Are you close enough to home? How is the student body? Is there enough diversity? A balanced social scene? Do they offer a range of extra-curricular activities? Do you feel comfortable with the surrounding city or town? If you are going out of state, is there a convenient airport for trips home?
  • Consider if the school is a financial fit. Can your family afford the cost of attendance with the financial plan you have been offered? Are there opportunities for work-study orscholarshipsonce you are a student? Does the campus or surrounding town offer job orinternshipopportunities? Will the school provide a good financial return for the investment?

Online high school vs online GED prep

Another way of obtaining your high school diploma is via online programs. Similar to online GED prep, there are also High School Online Programs, for example, Penn Foster High School’s online program.

Always make sure, however, that the online High School you decide on is accredited by the appropriate organizations. It would be a shame if you learned later that your diploma would not be accepted, right?

If you decide that getting an online diploma is the most effective option for you, the subsequent step is to pick out an online high school program.

Schools that hold regional accreditation are by far the most accepted by employers and colleges.

Create a checklist of questions to ask every online high school you think about.

Learn if the high school offers an accelerated program for adults, if the school presents help for students who require support, and about the amount of work you will need to complete the program.

Good help will be offered by Regionally Accredited Online High Schools.

But regardless of whether you get your secondary education degree through an online accredited high school program or the GED program, getting ahead with your education in college or university is what matters!

Online education has come a long way

The fact of the matter is that online education programs have come a long way.

Video lessons are known to be entertaining and high effective, and taking online practice tests is a great way to discover your knowledge gaps fast so you can center on those topics that need your attention and time most.

Adult online courses can be accomplished from the convenience of your home without any fixed daily schedules.

Candidates can continue with their daily work and still complete the educational courses without too many problems as is possible with, for example, the courses provided by Excel High School in an entirely online format.

There are many reasons to go back to school, and financially speaking, high school graduates make more than those who did not graduate.

(Video) High School Diploma (GED) Hack | Shamika Saves

You can choose to attend a High School for Adults or pass your GED (no need to go back to school).

This website’s free online GED classes also support candidates with up-to-date information about the GED exam and lead candidates to gain the highest possible marks.

It doesn’t matter when or why you stopped your educational journey; it’s never too late to get your education back on track.

Some people say that an adult high school program can be completed a great deal faster than regular high school, but if your goal is just to go to college, all you need to do is take the GED exam.

There are, however, some pretty strict regulations and requirements for students wanting to take the GED.

It all depends on your specific needs, but you would have a better chance to obtain an AHS diploma and an HSE equivalency degree by attending an adult learning center.

Online learning requires a very high level of self-discipline, and only the strong ones will succeed.

What are the best online high schools?

When you decide to attend Online High school, you definitely want to know what are the best online high schools.

We can find a growing number of online high schools that are supported by brick-and-mortar colleges, and these schools are perceived as the best online high schools.

These university-backed programs may offer quite a few advantages, for example, the expertise of college-level professors or access to for-credit college classes.

Most of these university-backed online high schools are geared towards highly talented students, and many homeschooled students either earn a GED diploma, which is rather affordable, or sign up for an online high school diploma program.

Quite a few universities, such as Stanford University, George Washington University, Indiana University, and the University of Missouri have established online, diploma-granting high school programs during the last decade, and we can see more and more four-year universities offering online courses to high school students.How to Get High School Diploma For Adults over 21 (1)

Students who engage in online high school programs must take their studies just as seriously as they would have to at a brick-and-mortar school. See also this post about how to become a law enforcement officer with a GED orhigh school diploma.

Because there is not so much regulation, everyone has to take online studying more carefully, and self-discipline is required.

Even when you’ve already secured your GED, earning your high school diploma may be a good option as it is preferred when applying to branches of the U.S. armed forces.

Can I take high school online?

Yes, that is very well possible.We know that Stanford and Brigham Young University are offering robust and accredited online high school programs, and a new program from George Washington looks promising.

Students who subscribe to a university-backed online high school may have some advantages over students who attend other online high schools because their high school diplomas are supported by these universities, and quite a few of these students are welcomed in top-tier colleges.

Of course, this reputation comes at a price. Just like the universities that back these high school programs, the price is considerable. For example, tuition at GW’s high school program costs $9,995 per year.

The university-backed online high schools mentioned below are almost all regionally accredited (the most widely-respected form of accreditation in the United States).

(Video) How to get your high-school diploma with out going to high-school!

The University of Nebraska Online High School, Phone: 866-700-4747
The U.S. Distance Learning Association (USDLA) has honored UNHS with two International Distance Learning Awards, one in 2011 for high school Physics and another in 2012 for high school Biology.

Both awards were in the K-12 Best Practices and Distance Learning Programming category.

Accreditation: AdvancEd (North Central Association).

See also our review of James Madison High School, part of Ashworth College, an online school that offers high school diploma programs.

Indiana University High School, Phone: 800-334-1011
The high school of Indiana University presents regionally accredited diploma programs using simultaneously online classes and traditional distance learning courses. Students signed up for Indiana University High School will be able to pick from a basic high school diploma or an academic honors diploma.

Every program at this school is self-paced, and this makes it perfect for individually committed students.

Accreditation: NCACS (North Central Association of Colleges and Schools).

ASU Prep Digital Online High School, Phone: 844-692-3372
Arizona State University’s innovative digital high school offers an accelerated path toward college and university courses that will lead to rewarding careers. ASU Prep Digital is an accredited online high school where students can take a single online course or enroll in a full-time, diploma-granting high school program.

ASU Prep Digital is part of ASU, America’s #1 ranked university for innovation.

Accreditation: AdvanceEd, NCAA Approved, CA A-G approved.

Ashworth University High School, Phone: 800-957-5412
This High School presents an entire curriculum for grades 9 through 12 in addition to personal classes for students who need to grab some credits to be able to graduate.

The school focuses on online study, but it additionally provides print-based correspondence courses. All courses are self-paced, and students can decide at that moment to take their exams.

Accreditation: Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), SACS, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

EPGY Online High School (Stanford University), Phone: 650-721-9422
Stanford University’s Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY) provides a thorough high school course load for outstanding students. They offer academically demanding classes, training for enhanced placement examinations, and admission to some university-level lessons.

EPGY Online High School has challenging acceptance demands and comes at a price.

Accreditation: WACS (Western Association of Schools and Colleges).

TheUniversity of Missouri High School, Phone: 800-609-3727
MU High School’s classes stabilize independence with a structure: lessons are self-paced but have to be accomplished within nine months. Along with basic main lessons, students can examine photography, anthropology, and a large number of additional topics.

This high school as well serves superior students by presenting special courses and admission to some university classes.

Accreditation: NCACS (North Central Association of Colleges and Schools).

(Video) Excel High School Online Adult Diploma Program

The University of Miami Online High School, Phone:305-284-2980
Run by Kaplan Virtual Education, UMOHS offers full-time, part-time, and summer study for students in grades 8-12. The school specializes in “special talent” students (such as competitive athletes and performers) who need to work around training and travel schedules.

The school is open to anyone who prefers a more flexible high school alternative.

Accreditation: SACS (The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools). Not all online high schools are expensive, though. Very affordable, SACS-accredited programs are, for example, offered by Excel High School, an online school based in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

The University of Oklahoma High School, Phone: 405-325-1921
The University of Oklahoma High School (UOHS) presents a distance learning high school program providing internet-based classes and paper correspondence lessons. UOHS students can benefit from a huge number of classes, such as journalism, aviation science, and Latin.

They can additionally choose between many University of Oklahoma college courses as dual-enrollment students.

Accreditation: NCACS (North Central Association of Colleges and Schools).

TheUniversity of Texas Online High School, Phone: 512-471-1838
The Online High School at the University of Texas provides a state-approved academic choice to students who would like to acquire a high school diploma and prefer the flexibility of online learning to finish their diploma. University of Texas online high school now offers almost 50 courses.

Accreditation: Texas Education Agency (TEA), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

North Dakota University Online High School, Phone: 800-225-5863
North Dakota’s dual-credit program enables students in grades 10 through 12 to have college classes and obtain college credit, which as well could be used to meet up with high school graduation demands.

Accreditation: The Northwest Accreditation Commission (NAC).

How much does online school cost?

There are quite a few online high schools that are relatively cost-effective. Often, getting your high school diploma through an online school is more affordable than spending four years in a traditional school.

There are basically two types of online high schools, public and private ones. Top-notch private online high schools like the ones listed above usually offer a number of tuition payment plans. But keep in mind that expenses for online education may vary.

It is key to select a school and a package that will suit your budget. If you want more specific information related to the tuition and other expenses involved, please contact the online school to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Keep also in mind that for most entry positions in the contemporary job market and for college admission, the GED diploma is good as well, and that comes at the cost of only around $120 in most states. Scores in the College-Ready ranges (165-174 and 175-200) will often allow students to enroll in college-level coursework without any prerequisites!

Also for an education in a traditional setting, the cost of high school education is high. So quite a few students are looking for an affordable alternative to keep expenses low. However, the reality is that not all online high schools involve affordable budgets.

So if you want to select a good online high school that offers a quality education that meets your budget, please be careful and do some thorough research on the online high schools and analyze the costs realistically.

Can I finish high school online for free?

Yes, there are a few options to earn your High School Diploma for free. There are more and more public high schools that offer tuition-free online education and allow you to get your high school diploma from a public school, and in an online format!

Let’s not forget that the world has changed and that today, online education has become a natural fit for many young people. Most high school learners have been growing up with what the internet has brought us over the past decades.

They are using the latest technology to pursue their interest and to connect with peers and friends. Who would be more fit to pursue a high school diploma through online education?

(Video) Earn Your High School Diploma Online

There are several options for students under 21 years of age to complete their high school curriculum for free. One option is the flexible environment offered by eAchieve Academy, an ideal solution for students wishing to earn a high school diploma online for free.

Another option is to complete high school through the online schools of Connections Academy, a tuition-free public school that offers online high school completion programs for students in grades K–12.

Last Updated on June 18, 2022.


What is the oldest age you can attend high school? ›

While it may differ around the world, in the United States the maximum age limit that a person can attend high school for free is about 20 or 21 (in one state it's 19 and in another it's 26).

What is the oldest age you can be in high school in Florida? ›

StateAge of required school attendanceMaximum age limit to which free education must be offered
Florida6 to 16
Georgia6 to 1619
Hawaii5 to 1820
Idaho7 to 1621
89 more rows

Can I get a high school diploma online? ›

You can still earn an accredited high school diploma entirely online. You can take the GED, TACS, or HiSet at an official testing center, or you can earn the official high school diploma 100% online.

What are other ways to get a high school diploma? ›

High School Diploma Alternatives: Know Your Options
  • GED® or High School Equivalency. The GED® test credential is a widely-accepted alternative to a high school diploma. ...
  • Adult Basic Education. Also known as ABE, Adult Basic Education classes focus on improving reading, math, and writing skills. ...
  • Adult High School.
23 Sept 2019

How long does it take to get a high school diploma for adults? ›

Typically, it takes four years to earn an accredited high school diploma from your local high school. With Excel High School, you can proceed through our high school diploma online at your own pace. Students that are highly motivated can usually complete 4-years of high school online in just one to two years.

Who is the oldest person to graduate college? ›

Nola Ochs

What is the school age cut off in Florida? ›

Florida Law (Section 1003.21, Florida Statutes) states that all children who are either six years of age, who will be six years old by February 1 of any school year, or who are older than six years of age but who have not attained the age of 16 years, must attend school regularly during the entire school term.

Do you get paid for home schooling? ›

“Do you get paid for homeschooling your child?” There is no payment fund or facility for parents who choose to home educate their child. Home education is a choice made by parents (or legal guardians) and is self-funded.

Who is the oldest person alive? ›

The oldest known living person is Lucile Randon of France, aged 118 years, 253 days. The oldest known living man is Juan Vicente Pérez Mora, of Venezuela, aged 113 years, 148 days. The 100 oldest women have, on average, lived several years longer than the 100 oldest men.

Can you go to college without a high school diploma or GED? ›

Not all accredited U.S. colleges require you to have a high school or GED diploma. If you don't have either of these credentials, you can get a college education by enrolling in individual classes, vocational programs, or adult high school before applying to a degree program.

What is the best online high school diploma? ›

The Best Online High School Diploma Programs
  1. Stanford University Online High School. ...
  2. GW Online High School. ...
  3. University of Missouri High School: Mizzou K-12. ...
  4. Mother of Divine Grace. ...
  5. University of Texas High School. ...
  6. Oak Meadow School. ...
  7. International Virtual Learning Academy. ...
  8. Laurel Springs School.

Is Penn Foster a real high school diploma? ›

Penn Foster High School is both regionally and nationally accredited, ensuring that the diploma you earn online is legitimate.

What happens if u don't graduate? ›

You'll Get A Job That Doesn't Pay Well

If you manage to get a job without your diploma, it'll likely be a low wage job. According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, dropouts earn about $260,000 less in their lifetime than a high school graduate.

How does not having a high school diploma affect your life? ›

A high school diploma is a standard requirement for most jobs — and for higher education opportunities. Not completing high school is linked to a variety of factors that can negatively impact health, including limited employment prospects, low wages, and poverty.

What happens if you don't have enough credits to graduate high school? ›

Students can take summer school classes or stay in school for an extra semester to complete their high school education. Other options include online high schools, alternative high schools and earning a General Education Development diploma (GED).

What is the age limit for high school in Georgia? ›

Compulsory Attendance

Georgia law requires that students attend a public or private school or a home study program from their sixth to their 16th birthdays.

How long can you stay in high school in Georgia? ›

Students in Georgia can legally drop out of school after they turn 16, but they need their parents' permission. Under Georgia's “compulsory education” law, children must attend full-time school or a home study program until they graduate from high school or turn 16.

What is the age limit for high school UK? ›

Secondary education is for students aged 11 to 16.

Who is the oldest person alive? ›

The oldest known living person is Lucile Randon of France, aged 118 years, 253 days. The oldest known living man is Juan Vicente Pérez Mora, of Venezuela, aged 113 years, 148 days. The 100 oldest women have, on average, lived several years longer than the 100 oldest men.


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