Evaluating Online GED® Programs and High Schools

By Marcus Parrino, Educator

With Internet access rising every day, it's no surprise that students turn to their computers for education. The Internet is a remarkable learning solution and a tremendous tool for homework, research, and adult education. Taking online courses allows adults to fit GED, HiSET, or TASC test prep into their lives and learn more effectively.

Fake Online High Schools and Diplomas

While the number of quality educational resources is growing, an alarming number of bogus resources sell fake high school diplomas, offer fake GED testing online, or promise results that just can't be delivered.

Unfortunately, services and certificates provided by diploma factories don't come cheap. Most packages range from $200 to $800 and are offered by companies that seem professional and legitimate. You'll see ads for these "schools" everywhere.

After paying tuition or high testing fees, students get a "high school diploma" from a nonexistent or non-accredited high school. Online high schools might say they're accredited, but their accreditation is from a fake service, too. Purchasers soon learn from their employer, an educator, or an admissions department that the diploma or supposed "GED online test" is worthless.

Real High School Equivalency Diplomas

Real high school equivalency diplomas are awarded by your state government. To earn the certificate, you need to take the GED test, HiSET exam, or TASC test, depending on your state. Approximately 95 percent of employers and 97 percent of U.S. colleges and universities accept an official high school equivalency certificate from your state.

Choosing the Best Online Study Program

When choosing an online class or study program, how can adult learners differentiate between quality courses, ones that just don't teach much, and fake diploma mills?

Consider guidelines for online classes and practice tests. The GED Testing Service® only approves one online study course for the GED test: GED Academy from College of Essential Education. Similarly, the Educational Testing Service approves only HiSET Academy for online test prep. Other programs may not cover all the material on the tests.

Fake vs. Real: How to Tell the Difference

Any program that promises immediate results or a quick diploma earned in a few days or a couple of weeks is probably bogus. You can't take the GED test for a diploma in a state that only offers the HiSET exam or TASC test. You can't earn a "GED online." The GED test, HiSET exam, and TASC test are complete high school exams. Most learners need at least a month or so to prepare.

There is no HiSET, TASC, or GED testing online. You can only take these state-approved tests at official test centers. Avoid any company that claims you can take a GED test online.

Practice tests are available online, and you can even get free online practice tests. They are excellent prep tools to see if you're ready to get a high school equivalency diploma. But a practice test is NOT the official GED test.

Avoid any company or "school" that offers a diploma or transcript based on an online test only. There's no way to guarantee test results without verifying your identity in a secure environment. It's no wonder that employers, colleges, and government agencies don't accept diplomas based on just an online test.

High school equivalency tests are timed exams that can last from 7 to 8 hours total, although you can take the subjects separately. Be wary of any company that offers a shorter test version or fails to provide information about official test centers.

If considering a high school learning solution, determine first if the school is accredited. Don't trust what a website says. Your state department of education will know if the school is accredited or can help you find out. State education offices, consumer affairs offices, the Better Business Bureau, and attorney general offices may also know if complaints have been filed about an educational provider. Investigate the company before you pay.

Explore resources carefully and cautiously. If an online company doesn't provide enough information to determine program standards and the company's qualifications to provide them, ask for the information. And be sure to check out referrals and confirm any information provided.

Read the fine print. Before you pay, know what you're getting. Consider the value of your purchase. Is it really valuable? Is it going to be accepted by your employer, a job training program, or college admissions department?

Explore the company's message boards, online forums, or learning communities. What do other learners say? Are there complaints or reports of success? Is the company responsive to both? Does it even offer a place where learners are free to share thoughts and findings, successes and failures?

If it's difficult to make an accurate judgment or determine if an educational program is legitimate, ask for guidance before you buy. Confirm with your local adult learning program or contact your official test center.

Explore a variety of resources. Compare solutions, prices, and services. Again, company claims are often misleading, so read the fine print! Is there a guarantee? What exactly is the company offering?

After choosing your online classes, it is possible pay with a credit card? Most credit card companies offer consumer protections on purchases and can obtain refunds from companies selling bogus goods. If payment is made by other means, keep records.

Choose your education wisely. Then share the news. Promote good products and education providers, and likewise, share news and information about misleading products. File complaints about the scams. Good news travels fast, and bad news travels faster. Your story could make the difference in someone's education.

Author’s Recommendations:

Evaluating Online GED® Programs and High Schools by Marcus Parrino is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United Stated License, redistribution of this article is allowed under the following terms outlined here.