How to Go to College Without a High School Diploma

How to Go to College Without a High School Diploma
How to Go to College Without a High School Diploma

Never finished high school? Don’t lose hope yet. There are still ways you can start a college-level education, even without a high school diploma. Your options may seem limited now, but with enough dedication and planning you can continue your education and pave your way for a brighter future.

Quick Read:
Some people may think their educational career is over if they haven’t graduated high school. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are still ways to get college credits, whether it’s through taking college classes while working on your high school diploma, taking individual courses with a college, earning Ability-to-Benefit status, or transferring from a community college. Learn the details about these methods by reading on.

Find Out How You Can Earn a College-Level Education, Even if You Don’t Have a High School Diploma.

Take College Classes in High School

If you’re currently working on getting your high school education, you can take college courses early through many schools with the help of a dual enrollment program. This is often helpful for students who want to get a head start on earning credits. However, individual colleges may or may not accept them.

Take Classes that Apply to You

While you may not be able to apply to a four-year university for a degree immediately without a high school diploma or GED, you can often still take classes. If you need to develop skills in a certain area or broaden your general knowledge, this can be a helpful option for you. Having different skill sets could increase your chances of getting the job you need even if you don’t have a degree.

If you don’t have the flexibility to go to classes every day, consider enrolling in online school to learn new skills instead. You can study at your own pace in comfort.

Earn Ability-to-Benefit Status

Believe it or not, many community colleges will admit students without a high school diploma. If you pass the exam to earn Ability-to-Benefit status, you can take courses through community colleges, and occasionally even access four-year universities. The Ability-to-Benefit test is designed to make sure potential students are prepared to pass and succeed in college courses.

As another added plus, passing the Ability-to-Benefit test makes you eligible to apply for Title IV Financial Aid. This can help you pay for school if you have worries about college expenses, including tuition and books.


If you make it into a community college without a diploma and decide you want to transfer later on, you can often transfer out to a higher level school. Most colleges won’t ask for a high school diploma or transcript when you transfer schools, so as long as they accept transfer credits and your GPA is acceptable, you have a high chance of being accepted. It’s a longer and more complicated process than if you had a diploma or GED, but it can pay off eventually.

The road to a college education may be more challenging if you haven’t had the opportunity to finish high school, but there are still options. Seize control of your education with these alternative methods and follow your career path to success.