The military allows some recruits to join without a high school diploma.
The military allows some recruits to join without a high school diploma.

Every branch of the military will accept applications from someone who doesn't have a high school diploma. You must, however, have a GED certificate. The military only enlists a small amount of GED candidates each year, based on a percentage of the total number of people enlisting. Military research has shown that high school dropouts are more likely to have behavioral issues and be discharged from the service early. While the military has a strong demand for new recruits and does recruit high school dropouts, it looks for positive signs that recruits have what it takes to gain soldier readiness and dependability.

Achieve a high score on the ASVAB test. The Armed Services Vocational Battery (ASVAB) tests your ability in a variety of areas, including math, technology, science and verbal skills. You can request a practice test from your recruiter to study before you actually take the test. The ASVAB has more than 100 questions that must be answered in a specified time, so you should practice answering the questions quickly. Remember to answer every question, because there are multiple choice answers to choose from even if you're not certain of the answer. The army requires a score of 50 on the ASVAB for GED holders.

Earn at least 15 college credits. The military will note your college credits as equivalent to a high school diploma. The difficult part will be getting into a college program without a diploma, but there are some programs that will allow you to take a test to get in.

Join the National Guard Youth Challenge Program. This is a program for high school dropouts between the ages of 16 and 18 who want to join the military. The program consists of a 20-week Residential Phase, during which cadets conduct daily community service activities and prepare for the GED test. The Residential Phase is followed by a 12-month Post-Residential Phase, during which cadets are involved in extensive life planning activities and continue their cadet training either in the military, at an educational institution, or back in their home community.

Enroll in army prep school. The U.S. Army began its first prep school in 2008 as a way for recruits to earn their GEDs in a structured military environment. The program was started because of the lack of available military recruits who have high school diplomas. The days at army prep school are hard, starting at 5 a.m. with intense physical training and continuing on with classes throughout the day.