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Diploma Factories: GED vs. Fake High School Diploma

For todayís student, distance learning can provide a valuable and affordable way to work toward a GED. But there are a growing number of companies and schools who arenít really in the business of education. Instead, theyíre in the diploma business -- their biggest business is selling quick and easy programs or simple online tests that come with worthless transcripts and fake diplomas.

In most cases, the GED - the term for General Education Development credential -- is the only official Ďdiplomaí that has value and is meaningful for adults who never completed their high school education. There are exceptions. But as a rule most transcripts and diplomas ordered or obtained from online high schools are worthless. Unfortunately, students and adult learners are easily misled by these diploma factories or diploma mills. Hereís a recent letter from a new GED student, who learned about one education business the hard way:

"I paid 0 and got this Ďdiplomaí in the mail, but it didnít help me get a better job. It was a ripoff. It wasnít till my boss told me that I found out it wasnít a real high school. It wasnít even a real high school diploma, just something somebody made on a computer. But it looked like a real school. With a real test."

This studentís story is typical and more common every day. Many adult learners fall victim to diploma scams, usually paying 0 to ,000 in tuition, testing, and transcript or diploma fees. But because the school or program isnít accredited, the diploma has no value...itís meaningless. When it comes to employers, job training programs, tech school, community colleges and universities, bogus diplomas are useless.

The GED is a program of the American Council on Education who authorizes each state to administer the standardized test through 3400 test centers. A Ďrealí GED is certified by the state where the test is taken. The GED test cannot be taken online, only in-person at ged test centers. Be wary of schools that promise a quick GED diploma online. The GED diploma can only be issued by your state after you have passed the battery of five tests making up the 7 Ĺ hour GED test.

When choosing an education program, a studentís best bet is a GED solution, whether enrolling in a local class, an online preparation program or managing self-guided study through the selection of quality study materials. If online learning or distance learning is the best solution for you, look for a program, class or choose materials that include all the components needed to prepare for the GED test.

Here are some guidelines for choosing a real online GED program provider and avoiding bogus schools or fake diploma scams:

The American Council on Education (ACE), GED Testing Service, has tight guidelines for the GED. The test covers science, social studies, language arts reading and writing, and math - including algebra, geometry and data analysis. Find a program that includes all testing areas; avoid any solution or school that doesnít include all test areas or information about test areas and ACE requirements. Learn more at

GED practice tests are available online and are a good way for a student to determine what to study to get ready for the test. But the real GED test cannot be taken online! The test is only given at official test sites. So avoid any company that claims to offer the official GED test or a quick online version for a diploma. For a listing of official test sites and state contacts, visit Test Sites. Or, use this link:

Read the fine print, before you pay-make sure you understand what the company or school is offering and determine if itís worth the price. Is it a worthwhile learning process or just a fake diploma? Will it help you progress in your career or education? Will the online GED program or learning solution you choose really prepare you for the GED test? Ask for guidance if youíre unsure. Talk to a local GED instructor or agency you trust about local resources.

Look beyond the company or school; discover what other teachers, students and adult learners say. Learn from their experiences. Explore GED and education message boards, online forums, library materials, local newsletters and news articles or learning communities.

Be very cautious in dealing with any company or online high school that offers a diploma or transcript after passing an online test. The GED test is difficult; the test is timed and usually takes more than seven hours. Basically, just as the old adage says: "If it sounds too good to be true it probably is too good to be true."

Education is probably the best investment you can make in yourself. Make sure your investment is a good one, and gives you a return thatís worthwhile. The GED credential might be harder to get than a 0 diploma. Still, you sure can count on it to take you to where you want to go.

About the Author: Leonard Williams, an e-learning instructor with, is also a curriculum specialist who focuses on research and development, implementation and assessment of best-practice learning solutions for adult learners and people with educational challenges. Leonardís email is He invites feedback and questions from GED students and instructors.

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