Flexible Online Bachelor’s Degrees for Working Adults With GED

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Key Take­aways:

  • Choose a major that both inter­ests you and pre­pares you for an in-demand job, with options like nurse prac­ti­tion­er, data sci­en­tist, or infor­ma­tion secu­ri­ty ana­lyst among the fastest-grow­ing fields.
  • Not hav­ing a high school diplo­ma does not dis­qual­i­fy you from finan­cial aid; many fed­er­al finan­cial aid pro­grams, includ­ing loans, schol­ar­ships, and grants, are avail­able for stu­dents with a GED.
  • Earn­ing an online bachelor’s degree can sig­nif­i­cant­ly enhance career prospects, open­ing up more job oppor­tu­ni­ties and poten­tial­ly lead­ing to high­er-pay­ing posi­tions com­pared to just hav­ing a GED.

As a work­ing adult with a GED, you’ve already tak­en a sig­nif­i­cant step toward mak­ing your­self more employ­able. Now, with your cer­tifi­cate in hand, you can con­tin­ue your edu­ca­tion­al jour­ney by pur­su­ing a high­er edu­ca­tion.

Gone are the days of going to a col­lege cam­pus to get your degree, though. Today, you can enroll in flex­i­ble online bachelor’s degrees that you can com­plete 100 per­cent online. You can find pro­grams that allow you to work at your own pace, too. Whether you want to attend school part-time or full-time at a large or small col­lege, you can find online degrees for work­ing adults that make you more attrac­tive to poten­tial employers.


Understanding the GED

If you haven’t already com­plet­ed your GED, it’s a high school equiv­a­len­cy that allows you to take a series of tests to demon­strate you’ve learned essen­tial knowl­edge and skills. GED stands for Gen­er­al Edu­ca­tion­al Devel­op­ment, and giv­en its gen­er­al nature, it assess­es you on core com­pe­ten­cies cov­ered in a tra­di­tion­al high school curriculum.

The major dif­fer­ence between a GED and a high school diplo­ma is the time required to com­plete them. You can com­plete your high school equiv­a­len­cy with a year or so of study­ing and a few hours to take the four GED sub­tests. A high school diplo­ma, mean­while, typ­i­cal­ly takes four years of attend­ing class­es in the fall, win­ter, and spring.


Benefits of Online Bachelor’s Degrees for Working Adults

Need­less to say, get­ting your degree online is a huge ben­e­fit if you’re a work­ing adult. But the flex­i­bil­i­ty of learn­ing at your own pace from your own home isn’t the only advan­tage you can reap from get­ting an online edu­ca­tion for GED holders:

  • A bachelor’s degree for adults with GED cer­tifi­cates usu­al­ly offers faster routes to grad­u­a­tion. If you attend school full-time (includ­ing sum­mer ses­sions) and take extra class­es each semes­ter, you can com­plete a bachelor’s degree in as lit­tle as three years.
  • Flex­i­ble online pro­grams allow you to bet­ter bal­ance your edu­ca­tion with work and fam­i­ly oblig­a­tions. Again, you can study on a sched­ule that works for you, mak­ing online learn­ing an attrac­tive option for busy work­ing adults like yourself.
  • Online learn­ing is also usu­al­ly cost-effec­tive. Tuition and fees vary from one insti­tu­tion to anoth­er, but online tuition is often the same as in-state tuition, even if you live out of state.

How to Choose the Right Online Program

The process of mov­ing from a GED to bachelor’s degree pro­grams begins with thor­ough research about poten­tial online degree pro­grams. The ques­tion is, what fea­tures should you look for?

  • Accred­i­ta­tion: Make sure you only put accred­it­ed col­leges with sol­id rep­u­ta­tions on your short­list. Enrolling in accred­it­ed online pro­grams ensures a high-qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion while open­ing doors to more finan­cial aid oppor­tu­ni­ties (among oth­er ben­e­fits).
  • Avail­able degrees: The schools you con­sid­er for enroll­ment should offer the degree(s) you’re inter­est­ed in. If you have trou­ble decid­ing between majors, con­sult an aca­d­e­m­ic advi­sor at each school to deter­mine which is your best bet.
  • Sup­port ser­vices: All col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties pro­vide sup­port ser­vices for you. Some do it bet­ter than oth­ers, though. Inves­ti­gate what ser­vices are avail­able to you as an online adult stu­dent at each school you’re con­sid­er­ing to help you nar­row your search.
  • Tech­ni­cal require­ments: Do you have the appro­pri­ate hard­ware and soft­ware to com­plete an online degree? Is your inter­net fast and reli­able enough? If not, you’ll need to address these issues before enrolling in an online degree program.
  • Cost: Accord­ing to the Edu­ca­tion Data Ini­tia­tive, the aver­age cost of a bachelor’s degree is $38,270. You can find much less expen­sive degrees by pri­or­i­tiz­ing pro­grams with a low­er cost per cred­it, reduced fees, and few­er relat­ed expenses.

With a GED to get you into your select­ed col­lege, the task then becomes what to major in. On the one hand, you should major in a sub­ject you find inter­est­ing. On the oth­er hand, you also want to major in a field that pre­pares you for an in-demand job. Ide­al­ly, your cho­sen major will tick both boxes.

Some in-demand fields you might con­sid­er include the fol­low­ing, which are the fastest-grow­ing jobs of 2024 accord­ing to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Wind Tur­bine Ser­vice Technician
  • Nurse Prac­ti­tion­er
  • Data Sci­en­tist
  • Sta­tis­ti­cian
  • Infor­ma­tion Secu­ri­ty Analyst

The above list rep­re­sents just the top five careers; many oth­er rapid­ly grow­ing fields are excel­lent options for your under­grad­u­ate stud­ies, like phys­i­cal ther­a­py, soft­ware devel­op­ment, and epidemiology.

While some of these fields require an advanced degree, you can use your bachelor’s pro­gram to gain essen­tial skills before mov­ing on to a master’s pro­gram. What’s more, many pro­grams in these fields offer unique fea­tures such as:

  • Flex­i­ble online learn­ing options, like asyn­chro­nous course­work in which there are no set class meet­ing times.
  • Intern­ship oppor­tu­ni­ties that allow you to put your learn­ing into prac­tice under the super­vi­sion of an expe­ri­enced mentor.
  • Robust online sup­port ser­vices rang­ing from tutor­ing to tech­ni­cal support.
  • Career ser­vices to assist you with net­work­ing, prepar­ing for inter­views, and find­ing leads for poten­tial jobs.

Now more than ever, you have a greater choice of where to get your degree. As men­tioned ear­li­er, you can get your degree from a small or large school, a pub­lic or pri­vate insti­tu­tion, a state uni­ver­si­ty, or a parochial school. In fact, some of the most well-known col­leges in the nation offer work­ing adults online edu­ca­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties, includ­ing the following:

  • Ari­zona State University
  • Pur­due University
  • Col­orado State University
  • The Uni­ver­si­ty of Florida
  • The Uni­ver­si­ty of Washington

Admission Requirements for GED Holders

GED col­lege admis­sions vary from one school to the next. How­ev­er, a few gen­er­al admis­sions cri­te­ria will be the same or high­ly sim­i­lar for each school.

For exam­ple, all schools require you to report your GED test scores. Some­times, a sim­ple pass­ing score (cur­rent­ly 145) might be enough to qual­i­fy for admis­sion. In oth­er cas­es, you might need a Col­lege Ready Score, which ranges from 165–174. In yet oth­er cas­es, a 175 or above is required.

You may also have to sub­mit sup­port­ing mate­ri­als along­side your GED scores. These might include a per­son­al state­ment or essay, let­ters of rec­om­men­da­tion, or a resume, to name a few.

You should con­sid­er tak­ing the ACT or SAT to sup­ple­ment your GED scores. Though many uni­ver­si­ties no longer require appli­cants to report ACT or SAT scores, doing so can help you make your case for admis­sion, pro­vid­ed you score well on the test. You might find that a high enough GED, ACT, or SAT score allows you to ful­ly enroll from the out­set rather than com­plet­ing prepara­to­ry courses.

On the oth­er hand, if your test scores are low, you might be admit­ted on a con­di­tion­al basis and required to com­plete pre­req­ui­site or col­lege-prep cours­es. Doing so adds time to your grad­u­a­tion time­line but is nec­es­sary to gain full admis­sion in this case.

Financial Aid and Scholarships for Working Adults with GEDs

A com­mon mis­con­cep­tion is that not hav­ing a high school diplo­ma dis­qual­i­fies you from finan­cial aid. This is sim­ply not true. In fact, many com­mon fed­er­al finan­cial aid pro­grams — includ­ing loans, schol­ar­ships, and grants — are avail­able for stu­dents like you with a GED.

In fact, finan­cial aid for GED hold­ers includes schol­ar­ships specif­i­cal­ly for GED stu­dents. You can also find finan­cial aid reserved for adult and non-tra­di­tion­al stu­dents, vet­er­ans or first respon­ders, first-time col­lege stu­dents, and many oth­er spe­cial situations.

When apply­ing for finan­cial aid, keep track of all dead­lines, as they might dif­fer for each type of aid you’re apply­ing for. It’s best to have a cal­en­dar (either paper or dig­i­tal) so you can quick­ly and eas­i­ly see when you have to sub­mit mate­ri­als for schol­ar­ships for work­ing adults and oth­er kinds of aid. Like­wise, pri­or­i­tize the fol­low­ing when apply­ing for aid:

  • Fill out the Free Appli­ca­tion for Fed­er­al Stu­dent Aid (FAFSA) ear­ly. This doc­u­ment is required for most finan­cial aid in the U.S.
  • Apply for finan­cial aid ear­ly, and apply for as many kinds of aid as you can. Pri­or­i­tize aid that doesn’t have to be paid back, like grants and schol­ar­ships, and use loans (which do have to be paid back) as a last resort.
  • Talk to your college’s finan­cial aid office for tips or insights about dif­fer­ent kinds of aid you might be eli­gi­ble for.
  • Cast a wide net; the more sources you seek aid from, the more like­ly you will get the mon­ey you need.

Potential Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Get­ting a col­lege degree requires a lot of time and effort. You will face many chal­lenges, but none that you can’t overcome.

For exam­ple, time man­age­ment for online stu­dents is per­haps the biggest obsta­cle. With­out class­es to attend, it’s easy to think, “I’ll do that lat­er.” The prob­lem is that you can fall behind with your stud­ies; before you know it, you’re in a hope­less situation.

To avoid this fate:

  • Devel­op a study sched­ule and stick to it.
  • You should have a ded­i­cat­ed time and place to study, and you should let your friends and fam­i­ly know that you are unavail­able dur­ing study time.
  • Use resources from your school, too, like online study groups and tutor­ing, to help you main­tain progress toward your degree.

As anoth­er exam­ple, many online learn­ers sim­ply don’t know how to bal­ance their edu­ca­tion, home life, and work sched­ule. But with some sim­ple online learn­ing tips, you can bet­ter man­age your time:

  • Max­i­mize your study time by avoid­ing cram­ming. Study­ing every day for less time is bet­ter than try­ing to do it all at the last minute.
  • Study for about 45 min­utes, then take a 15-minute break. This will help keep your mind fresh and engaged and give your body a break from sit­ting at a desk for too long.
  • Get enough sleep and eat right. It’s amaz­ing what enough rest and qual­i­ty food will do for your moti­va­tion level!
  • Ask for help when you need it. It’s great to want to fig­ure things out on your own, but try to bal­ance the need to be inde­pen­dent with ask­ing for help when you’re unsure of how to proceed.

Future Opportunities with an Online Bachelor’s Degree

Need­less to say, career advance­ment with online degree cre­den­tials under your belt is far bet­ter than with a GED alone. This is espe­cial­ly true if you get a bachelor’s degree (as opposed to an associate’s degree).

In fact, not only can you qual­i­fy for more jobs with a bachelor’s degree, but you can often find high­er-pay­ing posi­tions than if you only have a GED or an associate’s degree. Your options open up even more if you get a master’s degree or doctorate.

In the end, you can become one of the suc­cess sto­ries GED col­lege stu­dents talk about by choos­ing the right pro­gram, ded­i­cat­ing your­self to your stud­ies, and using avail­able resources to help you along the way. You’ve already start­ed your jour­ney with a GED; now it’s time to con­tin­ue that jour­ney by tap­ping into your moti­va­tion to suc­ceed and com­plet­ing an online degree program!