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Why is a High School Diploma Important? Unlock Opportunities and Realize Your Dreams with Grad Solutions

March 29th, 2024
Graduates lined up

Occasionally, life presents us with unforeseen obstacles. These can take us down a path that is different from others. If you’re a teen who has experienced many difficulties, you may have reached a point where dropping out was the only thing you felt you could do. Today, you may be wondering… “Is it even possible to go back to school?”

We want you to know there is always time to rewrite your story and chase your dreams. Going back to school might seem daunting, but it’s also a decisive step towards shaping a better future for yourself. By returning to school, you’re investing in your future, tapping into your potential, and opening doors to many more opportunities than you will have without an education.

If you’re like many of the teens we know who dropped out of high school, you may be considering re-enrolling. If this is the case, you should be sure that going back is the right step for you. In this article, we’ll share why completing a high school education is a critical step for every teen and young adult in Arizona.

Graduate student accepting high school diploma

High School Diploma: A Stepping Stone to Success

A high school diploma is a foundational credential for many reasons. It is the minimum educational requirement for entry-level positions in many job markets, and without it, individuals are often limited to minimum-wage jobs. 

Job Opportunities

Employers often use a high school diploma as a screening tool to assess basic skills such as reading, writing, and critical thinking. Successful completion of a high school diploma shows a potential employer that a job candidate is equipped with the foundational skills needed for employment. In essence, it opens up a career pathway with more income opportunities. 

A high school diploma is a prerequisite for pursuing higher education, such as college, trade school, or vocational training programs. Vocational job opportunities encompass many careers requiring specialized training or skills rather than traditional academic degrees. Some examples include electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, home inspectors, automotive mechanics, carpenters, welders, cosmetologists, medical assistants, dental hygienists, pharmacy technicians, and veterinary technicians. 

These vocational career opportunities often offer competitive salaries, opportunities for advancement, and job stability, making them attractive options for individuals interested in hands-on work experience and practical skills development. Earning your high school diploma opens doors to vocational educational opportunities, which can lead to better job prospects and higher earning potential.

Infographic for Grad Solutions about weekly earning by education level

Higher Income Possibilities

There is a clear connection between education and higher pay. Statistically, high school graduates tend to earn higher incomes and face lower unemployment rates than those without a diploma. While there are exceptions, completing high school generally correlates with greater financial stability and opportunities for advancement.

2022 data from The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a connection between education level and median weekly earnings for workers aged 25 and above. Those without a high school diploma earned a median of $682 per week, while high school diploma holders made $853, over 25% more. 

Earnings increased with each educational milestone: individuals with some college but no degree averaged $935, those with an associate’s degree averaged $1,005, and those with a bachelor’s degree earned approximately $1,432 per week. Added data shows lower unemployment rates with each level of education attained. That means, the more education you have, the less likely you are to become unemployed. 

The Gateway to Higher Education

A high school diploma is the baseline educational requirement for most college and university admission offices. It demonstrates that an individual has completed a certain secondary education level and possesses the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to become a college graduate. Here are some key roles that a high school diploma plays in the college education or university admission process:

Admissions Requirement 

In most cases, four-year colleges and universities require applicants to have a high school diploma. Meanwhile, most community colleges or two-year schools will accept a high school diploma or equivalent such as a G.E.D. for admission. Often trade schools require a high school diploma but some will accept a G.E.D. This requirement usually depends on the specific trade and the state licensing requirements. 

Academic Preparation

A high school diploma signifies that the student has completed a prescribed course that includes core subject areas like mathematics, English, science, and social studies. These courses provide the academic foundation necessary for success in college-level coursework.

Demonstration of Achievement

Earning a high school diploma demonstrates commitment, perseverance, and achievement. It shows that the student has completed the requirements set forth by their school district or educational institution.

Specific Criteria for Selection

While colleges and universities consider various factors during admission, such as standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, and essays, a high school diploma is often a primary consideration criterion. It’s one of the first filters used to screen applicants.

A high school diploma is essential for admission to most colleges and universities. It demonstrates academic readiness and signifies a level of achievement and commitment valued in higher education and the workforce.

Infographic for Grad Solutions about GED vs diploma

Diploma or G.E.D.?

If you’re like most, you may also be wondering if it is worth it to get a high school diploma or a GED diploma. Though a G.E.D. is considered the equivalent of a high school diploma, there are differences between them and, more importantly, how others perceive them. A high school diploma offers several advantages over a General Educational Development (G.E.D.) certificate. 

First, a high school diploma typically represents four years of comprehensive education, providing various academic subjects, extracurricular activities, and social and emotional development opportunities. Graduating from high school signifies a commitment to completing a structured educational program. It showcases perseverance and dedication, qualities employers and higher education institutions value. 

Some employers prefer these qualities to GED test takers. For example, the Army and other armed forces preferentially hire those who have earned their high school diploma versus those who have not. Some employers prefer candidates with a traditional high school diploma over GED testing because they view it as a symbol of readiness for the workforce or college-level studies. See Do I Need a Diploma to Join the Military? for more on this topic. 

While both credentials can open doors to employment opportunities and further education, a high school student with a diploma often carries a more profound sense of accomplishment, personal growth, and potential advantages in career advancement and college admissions.

Overall, while a high school diploma is not the sole determinant of success in life, it is a crucial stepping stone that provides essential skills, opportunities, and access to further education and employment prospects. See the G.E.D. vs. Diploma Blog to learn more. 

Employee and a student posing for a selfie at graduation

Grad Solutions: Your Partner in Flexible Diploma Achievement

Grad Solutions is a unique program offered for free in Arizona to those who dropped out of high school looking to fulfill their graduation requirements. It is a flexible online program that allows you to finish your high school education online, wherever you can access a computer. It is an accredited high school program that allows you to earn a traditional high school diploma, not an equivalency diploma. 

Suppose you enjoy hanging out at the local community center, coffee shop, or library. In that case, you can participate in online learning from any of those places. Alternatively, suppose your circumstances require you to be home to care for kids or family members. If that’s you, this program provides room for those needs. 

Do you need a high school diploma?

If you’re an Arizonan between the ages of 16 and 21 and need to finish your high school education, the Grad Solutions program can help. Grad Solutions is a free and flexible online high school program that allows you to learn wherever you are and whenever your schedule allows. 

We provide extensive support to help you get from enrollment to high school graduation. Our student support services include career or college degree guidance, counseling services, specialized assistance, mentoring, financial aid application assistance, and more. These work together to serve students through their high school journey and increase their chances of success. 

Infographic for Grad Solutions about challenges

Breaking Barriers: Solutions to Overcome a High School Dropout Situation

If you dropped out of high school because of family issues, chronic health conditions, bullying problems, substance abuse, mental health issues, teen pregnancy, or had to go to work to help your family, you’re not alone. Many students who enroll at Grad Solutions have faced similar situations. While these situations do create unique hardships, it doesn’t mean it has to be the end of their education. It doesn’t have to be the end of your education. 

Grad Solutions supports teens who dropped out with customized learning plans to complete course requirements. When students enroll with Grad Solutions, their course credits from previous high schools can count toward earning their diploma. Most students can pick up where they left off with their custom learning plan. 

For those interested in getting their high school diploma but live outside of Arizona or do not fall in the age range of 16-21, our partner program Smart Schools offers an accredited and flexible solution for all ages and across all locations.

Graduate receiving her diploma

A Brighter Future Through High School Completion

You can achieve great things, and a commitment to return to school and finish will not be a decision you regret. If you’re considering enrolling in high school again, we encourage you to reach out and speak with an Enrollment Counselor who can provide guidance on what it’s like at Grad Solutions

You have what it takes to succeed and we have no doubt that you’ll accomplish amazing things. Reaching a goal is easier when you take one step at a time. We wish you the best on your journey back to school. For more information, call us at 480-689-5999 or fill out the form here.

If you’re ready to take your next step, begin the enrollment process!


Bureau of Labor Statistics

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