Tanya dropped out of high school after her sophomore year. “That was my dream, to walk across that stage, but because I got pregnant, they told me I couldn’t go back,” recounts 18-year-old Tanya. By the time she was ready to go back, she was too old, so she decided to try another route.
Tanya decided to get her GED, or General Educational Development certificate. “Well, you can’t find a good job without education,” Tanya says. “What can you do with your life?”
The problem is, because of the recession and because so many more young people are attending college today, some educators argue that a GED has never been less valuable. It’s not worthless, they say, but more today than ever, “If you get your high school diploma, you’re going to be better off. If you get some college, you’re going to be better off. If you get a bachelor’s degree, you’re going to be better off,” says education counselor, Martin Segura.
Today, the unemployment rate for people without their high school diploma is over 15 percent. “To the extent that students do not develop those skills, don’t have those trainings, don’t have those degrees or credentials… they’re headed for a very difficult, a brutal collision path where they’re going to end up with leftover jobs, jobs that nobody else wants,” explains Hector Madrigal, Director of Pupil Services in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The GED just doesn’t have the value it once did. Even the military agrees. “The job market in general in today’s society is extremely difficult to get into. Any job that you go to, you know most of them want you to have at least high school, some college,” explains Staff Sergeant Matthew Jacobs of the U.S. Marine Corps. “Well Marines, we’re just another job like everybody else. We’re looking for the same qualifications.”
Tanya’s advice to other kids? “I would say don’t leave, don’t give it up for anything.”
Discussion and Self-Reflection Questions
- GED stands for a General Educational Development certificate. It is a degree earned by those who have dropped out of high school. What do believe are some of the reasons a GED has become less valuable? What are the benefits, academic and otherwise, of earning a high school diploma?
- What and who keeps you coming back to school each day?
- What are some of the skills you are developing in high school? How are those skills going to provide help and direction for your life beyond high school?
- Do you need some support in certain areas? What help would you like? Talk with your guidance counselor about who might be able to secure that assistance.
Is a GED Valuable?
About the Program
Is the GED, or General Educational Development certificate, really a valid replacement for a high school diploma? Watch this short video and hear from kids and experts to learn more about what employers, college representatives and even the military have to say. Discussion questions help to continue the conversation.