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Need a High School Diploma?


If you are over 18 and didn't finish school, you may find you need a high school diploma or equivalent to take a post-secondary or training program, or to get a job. You may or may not have to go back to school to get the qualifications you need for the post-secondary program you want. To find out, follow these suggestions.

Find out what you need to take a post-secondary or training program

If you want to take a post-secondary or training program, you may not need a high school diploma for admission. If you are at least 18 years of age and have certain specified high school courses, you may be eligible for admission to the program you want to attend.

To find out, check out the mature student admission policy and program admission requirements in the school’s calendar or on its website. These requirements may vary from 1 school to another, so check them carefully.

Watch for the following:

  • Does the school allow mature students to apply without all of the standard admission requirements?
  • Does the school require applicants to pass a writing competency exam?
  • Do you qualify under the minimum age and other requirements specified in the school’s mature student admission policies?

Always contact the school to be certain of the requirements for the program you plan to take.

Consider taking upgrading courses

You may be eligible for admission to the post-secondary program you want. But are you confident that your academic skills are good enough to successfully complete the program? If not, you may want to consider taking 1 or more upgrading courses.

Several schools may offer suitable programs at locations near your home. Some options include:

  • Many public and private school boards offer part-time continuing education courses for adults. For information, contact your local school board.

  • Many public and private colleges and technical institutes offer part-time and full-time programs designed to help students upgrade their academic skills. These programs may be called:

    • college preparation programs
    • bridging programs
    • pre-technology programs
    • pre-careers programs
    • transitions programs.

    Contact information for these schools is available through the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton. You can also find upgrade programs by searching the database of post-secondary educational programs in Alberta at OCCinfo

  • If you cannot attend classes, you may be able to take distance education courses to complete high school diploma requirements. The Alberta Distance Learning Centre (ADLC) offers Kindergarten to Grade 12 courses and provides free placement testing to determine where you should start. For more information, visit the ADLC website or call 780-674-5333 in Barrhead. To call toll-free from anywhere in Alberta, dial 310-0000 first and then the phone number.

Make sure you understand your upgrading options. Upgrading programs may be designed specifically for students who wish to qualify for other programs offered at the same school. If you plan to attend a different school after you graduate from an upgrading program, make sure the qualifications will be accepted at the program you plan to attend.

Look at getting your General Education Diploma

If you want to demonstrate to yourself, employers and schools that you have the knowledge acquired through daily living that is equivalent to the knowledge of a high school graduate, you can write a series of 5 GED (General Education Diploma) exams to earn a High School Equivalency Diploma.

To find out about the GED, preparation courses and exam sites, check out GEDonline

Before you invest time and energy preparing for GED exams, talk to several employers who have the types of jobs for which you would like to qualify. Ask if they accept a General Education Diploma.

Get the educational requirements you need

Not having a high school diploma can be a challenge, but understanding your options can help you take the next step in your career or education. Take advantage of 1 of the many available options to upgrade your education and get the job you want.

Relevant Tips (alis.alberta.ca/tips)

Additional Reading (alis.alberta.ca/publications)

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