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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 training or program you want. To find out, follow these suggestions.

Find out what you need to take a postsecondary or training program

If you want to take a postsecondary 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 find out, check out the mature student admission policy and program admission requirements in a school calendar or website. These requirements may vary from school to school, so check them carefully.

  • Does the school allow mature students to apply without all 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 postsecondary 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 some upgrading courses.

Several schools may offer suitable programs at locations near your home. 

  • 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 fulltime programs to help students upgrade their academic skills. These programs are called a variety of names:
    • college preparation programs
    • bridging programs
    • pretechnology programs
    • precareers programs
    • transitions programs

    Contact information for colleges and technical institutes is available through the Alberta Career Information Hotline. Call 18006613753 toll-free or 7804224266 in Edmonton. You can also find upgrading programs by searching the database of Alberta post–secondary educational programs at OCCinfo.

  • If you can’t attend classes, you may be able to take distance education courses to complete your high school diploma. The Alberta Distance Learning Centre 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  7806745333 in Barrhead. To call tollfree from anywhere in Alberta, dial 3100000 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.

Consider GED tests to earn a high school equivalency diploma

The knowledge you have acquired through daily living may be equivalent to the knowledge of a high school graduate. To find out, you can write a series of 5 general educational development exams (GEDs) to earn a high school equivalency diploma.

Check out the GED section on Alberta Education's website to learn more information.

Before you invest the time and energy to prepare for GED exams, talk to a number of employers who have the types of jobs for which you would like to qualify. Ask if they accept a high school equivalency 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 the many available options to upgrade your education and get the job you want.

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