Of course, every case of GED vs. graduation is different. Does the teen need to work to support a family going through hard times, or is he just uncomfortable being told what to do?
Professor James Heckman of the University of Chicago researched students in Texas who had taken the GED after dropping out of high school. He found that both the high school graduates and the GED graduates had similar scores on cognitive tests. In other words, the GED takers were as “smart” as the high school graduates.
He also found that the GED takers were more likely to quit or get fired from their jobs, had less-stable marriages, and were much more likely to commit a crime. The ability to stay in school developed non-cognitive skills that led to more successful outcomes in life.
Test scores seem to predict academic performance, but not success in life. When it comes to taking the GED vs. graduation, if at all possible, have your child complete high school for the “grit” it takes to stick with something despite the challenges. That does not mean that if you do not finish high school, you have no chance of a successful life. The GED program provides exactly that opportunity. It’s just that if you have the choice, staying in school has a track record of producing better results down the road.
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