General Question

girlofscience's avatar

What is the purpose of requiring a high school diploma for anything?

Asked by girlofscience (7556points) October 3rd, 2008

At least two of the people in my graduate program do not have high school diplomas. They have Bachelor’s degrees, but never graduated high school. And soon, they’ll have PhDs…but still no high school diploma.

There are tons of jobs whose only requirement is a “high school diploma.” What if, for some odd reason, these people wanted to take it easy after grad school and be a secretary for a year? If the job posting required a high school diploma, would they be denied even though they have a PhD?!

Also, why do applications for fast food places have such insane questions on the application? I once went to Wendy’s by myself without reading material and decided to read a copy of the app. The application requires the address of your elementary and middle school, as well as a complete list of all of the subjects you studied at these times. I am baffled by the relevance of a middle-school address in evaluating one’s ability to work at Wendy’s.

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34 Answers

JackAdams's avatar

You can have high school diploma, but have a GED, you know.

I wish someone could take and pass and get an Associate’s Degree, via a GED of some kind.

girlofscience's avatar

@JackAdams: Yes, I know. Most places that require a high school diploma say, “High school diploma (or equivalent).”

The two people in my graduate program do not have GEDs either.

JackAdams's avatar

Then how did they get into the graduate program, in the first place?

girlofscience's avatar

Because they had Bachelor’s degrees from prestigious universities, excellent grades and GRE scores, and lots of research experience. Not a single grad program I applied to asked me any information about high school.

basp's avatar

To get their bachalor degree they most likely had to pass high school equivalency tests (or something comparable) when they entered the university. That is thecway I have always heard it was done.

girlofscience's avatar

@basp: Nope, they didn’t. Many universities have early-entrance programs that allow kids to start four-year degrees at age 16 or 17. They are never required to take any high-school equivalency tests, and they are never awarded any type of equivalent to a high school diploma. They simply receive a B.S. or B.A. at the end of their four years at the university.

basp's avatar

That isn’t the way it works where I live, girl. Students may start early, but only after testing.

girlofscience's avatar

With stellar SAT scores and a clear demonstration of intellectual promise, the universities of which I am speaking do not require a test that is related to completion of high school.

basp's avatar

A SAT isn’t a test?

girlofscience's avatar

Yes, but taking the SAT (and even receiving a perfect score on it) does not award you any type of high-school completion equivalency degree.

basp's avatar

Like I said….They are tested before a university accepts them…......

girlofscience's avatar

Yes. What I’m saying is that they still don’t have a high school diploma. I took my SATs for the first time in 7th grade. Taking SATs has no bearing on completion of high school.

I’m asking why, specifically, “high school diplomas” (or their equivalent) are required for jobs and if these people who have PhDs but no high school diploma would be denied jobs that required high school diplomas, if they were interested in obtaining such a job.

fireside's avatar

I would say that even with a high school diploma, they would be denied the job because they were overqualified for the position.

No manager would want to hire a Doctor when they are simply looking for low level labor.

girlofscience's avatar

@fireside: Ok, what if they only had a Bachelor’s degree but no high school diploma?

bodyhead's avatar

Taking the SAT or ACT isn’t equivalent to the completion of high school. There are several accellerated programs here where you can start college before you complete high school.

no job app I have ever filled out had a blank for my SAT scores.

For the main question, those people with degrees that have come after high school are assumed to have the complete knowledge of one completing high school.

girlofscience's avatar

@bodyhead: Yes, thank you for supporting what I was saying about the SAT.

For the main question, those people with degrees that have come after high school are assumed to have the complete knowledge of one completing high school.
Then why require a high school diploma specifically, instead of just any degree?

fireside's avatar

It’s really just setting expectations about the level of job and skill set required.

bodyhead's avatar

Yea I’m agreed with fireside. Someone who has a PHD won’t want to be flipping burgers long. If they want someone long term they should shoot for only the people with high school equivalency degrees.

It’s about targeting the level of intelligence of the job.

basp's avatar

I didn’t say that the SAT is the same as a high school equivalency test. What I am saying is that universities will test students without hs diplomas before allowing entry. Different universities use different tests. The purpose of the testing is to ensure the student has the appropriate knowledge background. Universities can use various tests to determine this measurement, including the consideration of one’s SAT scores.

critter1982's avatar

I think it is “typical” for someone who is going to college to have a high school degree. The situation you speak of is not a “typical situation”, and in this atypical situation, I am sure employers have the leniency to hire someone with a BS or MS without a GED or high school degree. Because it is typical to gain your GED or your high school degree prior to your undergard and grad studies it really is just about setting some sort of standard for the job required.

bodyhead's avatar

@basp Obviously, there was a misunderstanding. I read your responses the same way she did. No worries. We’re all on the same page here.

jca's avatar

as far as your last paragraph, about wendy’s requiring the address of your elementary and middle school and the information from those schools, maybe that’s in case it’s a teenager applying? in that case, there might not be any high school info yet, but they want to know where the kid goes to school. maybe?.....

gailcalled's avatar

I have a teen-ager working for me who is being home-schooled. He has taken courses at the local community college, and just got 780 (math), and 710, 680 on the Verbal parts. He acts in the local teenage Shakespeare and Co. teen program. His grandfather was a chaired professor at Wms college and then president of Colby college

He will not have a high school diploma but will write beautiful, literate essays, have a brilliant interview and like his older sister, surely get into Williams College Early Decision. I would bet Milo the farm on it.

JackAdams's avatar

Whenever I applied for any job where there was a question about my graduating High School, I have given trruthful information about where I attended and the year I graduated.

Because prospective employers never verify that, I probably could have lied and still gotten the job. I know many high school dropouts (my own brother among them), who lied and claimed they were high school graduates, and no one ever questioned their supposed credentials.

jca's avatar

i am willing to bet that if a potential employee called a school and asked to verify if the person had a high school diploma, confidentiality laws might prohibit the school from releasing information. maybe i’ll call my high school and tell them i’m wendy’s and i need to know if this girl graduated and see what happens.

EmpressPixie's avatar

So let’s say that these are older people. Back in the day you could walk up and register at your local public university. It’s what my mom did when she went to NC State. Everything at her high school looked boring so she just enrolled in college. Now she had her PhD.

And yes—one University did try to keep her from enrolling in classes a few years ago because of the no high school diploma issue. Masters? Yes. GED? No. Her solution was to “talk to someone with a brain” and get around it. (She may have lost her temper at the time.)

In the end, there are a few things that strong require it that unless my mom (or your friends) go back and get their GED they can’t do. Like drive a cab. And it’s ridiculous. And probably they could get exceptions.

Generally the high school diploma is just used as a standard: you were smart enough to finish high school, you had the attention span to do it, you can read and write and add things and subtract things. It’s an easy standard to use and never meant to stop those with higher degrees from the activities associated. Unless they are way overqualified, but that’s another issue entirely.

skfinkel's avatar

I think people request a high school diploma because in many cases, sadly, it means you can tolerate long and boring days without going to jail first. So, you can work there.

Bri_L's avatar

There are a lot of instances now where they just ask for the highest level of academic achievement.

Fieryspoon's avatar

My first job in my current industry required 5 years of experience in this industry and a postgrad degree. I have no highschool diploma, no associate’s degree, no bachelor’s degree, no master’s degree, and certainly no doctorate degree.

If you can show that you’re qualified for a position, then the standard credentials may be overlooked by an employer.

It’s the same for getting a bachelor’s without a highschool diploma. Colleges want you to have the highschool diploma, but it’s certainly within their right and ability to grant access to someone without it, who shows they meet the admission criteria in another way.

The whole idea behind a degree is that it’s a form of verification that this person has such and such qualities. If you can prove that you have such and such qualities without the degree, then it shouldn’t (and doesn’t) matter to a prospective employer.

augustlan's avatar

This Q has been illuminating for me. I am a 41 year old high school drop out with no GED. I was always told that in order to go to college and earn credits toward a degree, I would first have to get my GED. As I have zero interest in sitting for an eight hour test, I have never done so. Perhaps I’ll investigate further…thanks for the nudge!

Response moderated
sillymichelleyoung's avatar

I’m actually one of these students. I dropped out of high school at the end of my sophomore year where I learned that there are some colleges that accept students who do not have their high school diploma (many are community colleges where you can earn your associates and then transfer into 4 year colleges). Many colleges (this also depends on what state you are in) allow students to get their GED after earning 30 credits – 15 which usually has to have the following subjects: math, english, social science, science, history.

I will probably earn my high school diploma this way (GED rather); however, I understand how many students can get their PHD without one. For example, if I transferred from my community college (with my associates) to Oklahoma University, they do not require me to present a high school diploma or GED. This is because I already proved myself during my time at a community college and an Associates Degree is higher than a high school diploma/GED. Therefore, when students apply for Grad school, I highly the schools will ask for a high school diploma. They will most likely look at the college material. Why? Because a student can do well in high school and fail college or the other way around.

As for jobs, just explain your situation. Many people will understand and if they do not, then this is not a place for you. What I would do is, if they ask for high school material, I’ll just show them my college material. Many will assume that if you did well in college, high school was a breeze. It would make no sense for a company to declare someone with their BA just because they do not have a high school diploma/GED.

I actually want like to meet other students with the same situation, so please message me if you are in this situation. :) Because it is still tough to finish college and transfer etc. without a high school diploma/GED. I really would love it if I could read/hear of other people stories. Also, if anyone that did drop out of high school would like more information/help, then feel free to message me. I’ll be happy to help or find other people to help you. My email is:

Remember: All roads lead to Rome. You just have to find the best path for yourself. And high school (public, private, whatever) isn’t for everyone.

richardhenry's avatar

[mod says:] Dupe post removed. :)

Response moderated (Spam)

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