Graduating from high school is a milestone event in a person's life. It is one of the initial steps into adulthood. A high school diploma is tangible proof that an important goal was achieved. There are alternative ways to graduate, including home school and the General Education Development (GED) program, as well as online high school. However, a regular diploma earned in the traditional manner is still regarded as the most acceptable way to graduate.

Opportunity

High school graduates will usually have more opportunities in all major aspects of their lives including education, employment and career advancement. Earning a diploma provides evidence of hard work and dedication to an important commitment. Although there are success stories of dropouts who became rich and/or famous, most dropouts have to work harder and wait longer for the chance to earn a higher-education degree or to get a job in their chosen field.

Education

Colleges and universities look more favorably on prospective students who have attained a standard diploma indicating the satisfactory completion of a general education throughout high school. Students who earn GEDs may not be refused entry to college, but their applications will undergo a more thorough examination, and they may have to take remedial courses until they can prove mastery of essential skills in math and writing.

Employment

High school graduates with regular diplomas will have an advantage in the job market over drop-outs who have no diploma or who have completed a GED program. Although prior job experience, knowledge and skills are also important considerations, the person with the diploma may be considered more qualified. That perception, deserved or not, gives the high school graduate the edge.

Income

High school graduates will usually earn more money than students who did not complete their education. This is especially true in the beginning of a person's career. The job seeker with a diploma will make more money when she begins working because of the perception that she has more skills and knowledge about how to perform her duties. High school graduates will probably be considered more often for promotions and raises as well.

Considerations

Students who are considering dropping out of school or earning a diploma in a nontraditional manner would be well advised to reconsider. The short-term results may seem beneficial now, but this decision will have long-term consequences. Nontraditional graduates will always have to work hard to dispel the common notion that they may not have adequate ability, knowledge and skills for success in college or in their chosen career.