Can Dropouts Get Their Diploma?

Students who drop out have many options for completing their diploma.
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Staying on track in high school isn’t always easy. Things come up, and for whatever reason you may not have completed high school, or someone you know -- a sibling, a child -- may have dropped out before getting his diploma. Well, it’s never too late; students can always go back to school in your community to get a diploma or obtain an equivalent of a high-school diploma by taking a test.

1 Adult High School

Any student who didn’t complete high school the first time around can attend adult high school to complete the courses they need and get their diploma. These special schools are open for people over the age of 18, though in special circumstances fresh high school drop-outs, emancipated minors or young mothers with permission from the board of education can attend adult high school. After completing the state-required courses, students in adult high school receive their diplomas.

2 Correspondence and Online

Many universities and colleges in the U.S. offer online courses for students seeking a high school diploma as a replacement for traditional correspondence courses. The University of Texas offers 52 courses for students from anywhere in the world; at the end, students receive a diploma from the State of Texas. Courses are taken simultaneously or one-at-a-time, and students can even use physical activity programs from their communities -- like gymnastics or swimming classes -- to complete physical education credits.

3 Exit Exams

In certain states, students must pass an exit exam in order to graduate from high school and receive a diploma. In states where this test is required, like California or Texas, adult high school and online courses can sometimes facilitate the exams. To complete your diploma in a state that requires the exit exam, however, you’ll have to take a test -- there's no way around it. You can buy test prep books in your state or find resources online, usually from your school, to help you prepare for the exit exam.


If students have been out of school for some time and don’t feel comfortable returning to a classroom or studying online, they can take a General Education Development Test. The GED is a high-school diploma equivalent and is recognized in most states and by most employers as proof that you have high-school education. Anyone who is 18 years old or within 60 days of their 18th birthday can take the exam. The test includes math, social studies, science and reading and writing portions.

Living in Canada, Andrew Aarons has been writing professionally since 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ottawa, where he served as a writer and editor for the university newspaper. Aarons is also a certified computer-support technician.