College sans high school?
December 7, 2007 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to go to college without a high school diploma or GED?

The thought just came to me the other day, and I was curious. I know you can get into most community colleges without those credentials, but is it possible to get into a four-year college sans diploma or equivalent?
posted by trokair to Education (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can transfer from community college to a university after accumulating a certain number of credits, so yes, it is possible in a roundabout way.
posted by cmonkey at 7:50 AM on December 7, 2007

Admission by Examination (at Rutgers):
You may apply for Admission by Examination if you have not completed high school. Candidates for Admission by Examination apply by taking the SAT or ACT and three SAT II subject area tests of the College Entrance Examination Board, including English and mathematics.
posted by smackfu at 7:55 AM on December 7, 2007

Depends on the college. Some are more flexible than others. I know a woman who went to Yale without graduating from high school; she had enough credits to graduate at the end of junior year but the high school simply refused to let her graduate then, so she applied to college on her own.
posted by phoenixy at 8:03 AM on December 7, 2007

Yes. Mr. ellenaim was recruited by a college before finishing high school. No diploma, no GED, and he's now Dr. ellenaim, Ph.D.
posted by ellenaim at 8:03 AM on December 7, 2007

I assume you can since there are always stories of 12 year olds going to University. I imagine you need to be freaky smart to get in. I am pretty sure the registrar can make all sorts of exceptions for students. I mean, how else do idiot rich kids get in?
posted by chunking express at 8:04 AM on December 7, 2007

Answers to this question makes it seem like a pretty common order of events around here.
posted by necessitas at 8:07 AM on December 7, 2007

Yes. I dropped out after my jr year of high school (I needed something like one English and one Phys Ed class for my sr year) and when to college instead of hs the next fall.

Colleges do like you to perform reasonably well on standardized test instruments in the absence of a hs diploma.
posted by jdfan at 8:08 AM on December 7, 2007

I know someone who dropped out of high school without getting a diploma or GED; he went to college through the Early Entrant Program at Shimer College in Illinois.
posted by Daily Alice at 8:09 AM on December 7, 2007

I, too know someone who managed to get into a (very good) college with neither a diploma nor a GED. He, too, has a PhD now.
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:11 AM on December 7, 2007

I know of someone who left high school to go to college, dropped out of college to enter a PhD program, and therefore had no degree until he got his PhD.

He had to get a GED along the way to qualify for some part-time work he wanted to do.
posted by killdevil at 8:11 AM on December 7, 2007

Yes, I did it. I actually did get the GED, but that was only because you have to have it to get govt. financial aid. I could have gotten into college without the GED.
posted by Autarky at 8:38 AM on December 7, 2007

A lot of Universities have "continuing studies" divisions or something of that nature - requirements are akin to community college but cost a little more and are part of the University. I have a friend who started at Tulane in the School of Continuing Studies and then transfered into one of the regular undergraduate colleges the next year.
posted by radioamy at 8:42 AM on December 7, 2007

I'm in the same boat as Autarky--could have, but got a GED. GED is the easiest test ever, so you might as well just get it if you drop out. Ridiculously easy.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:46 AM on December 7, 2007

I know someone who went to a college that had a program specifically for would-be high school seniors. I think they finish their HS degree while simultaneously starting on their college degree, rather than completely forgoing a HS degree and just starting on college.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 9:02 AM on December 7, 2007

I know a couple of people who dropped out of high school and got two-year transfer degrees from community colleges before finishing up with BAs at four-year schools. At least one never got a GED and never took the SAT.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:18 AM on December 7, 2007

One of my best friends in high school did pretty much the same thing as jdfan. (I teased her about being a high school dropout for ages.) So, yep.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:20 AM on December 7, 2007

Bard College at Simon's Rock caters to students who opt not to finish high school. And as far as it can be told, it's well respected.
posted by General Malaise at 9:26 AM on December 7, 2007

many universities have flexible entry policies, especially for mature aged students ... ask.

I never finished High school ... but have just finished a bachelors followed by a masters degree in law.
posted by jannw at 10:03 AM on December 7, 2007

I'm in Canada and got into all four universities I applied to without a high school diploma, which I didn't have because I was homeschooled. I did have a couple AP classes and one other university class though, plus some marks from online courses I'd taken, and reference letters. The responses I received ranged from handwritten notes congratulating me on my impressive application and large scholarship offers to being told that I couldn't go into physics because I hadn't taken grade 12 chemistry. In general the smaller schools were much more flexible. So definitely doable but it takes some work. Going to meet with the registrar's office also helped, I'm sure. Schools are starting to realise that homeschool students are actually quite desirable and they have to have some way to admit them.
posted by carolr at 10:36 AM on December 7, 2007

Actually, the link I posted above breaks out home-schooled as separate from "no degree at all". I guess it's popular enough now.
Students who are home schooled should submit SAT or ACT scores as well as transcripts, syllabi, and/or other documents relevant to academic work completed. Please also attach an outline of your academic curriculum and indicate whether it has been conducted under an accredited program.
posted by smackfu at 10:50 AM on December 7, 2007

I know people who never finished high school, but went to community college and transfered to a four-year university. One of them got a full scholarship at the university.
posted by acoutu at 2:20 PM on December 7, 2007

My niece is doing this right now. Left mid-Junior year of high school a couple of months ago, will start at University when the spring semester starts.
posted by mewithoutyou at 2:54 PM on December 7, 2007

Yes. I did. My undergraduate university required five final-year high-school courses in relevant subjects, and good grades in those courses, but did not require a diploma. All it cared about were the grades in the courses.

It had another system as well. Anyone out of school for more than three years could apply as a probationary adult student. This allowed the student to take one course at a time for one year; provided the student passed the courses, s/he could enroll the following year in the normal way and take a full courseload.
posted by alaaarm at 3:28 PM on December 7, 2007

I had a teacher in high school who skipped (I think) both junior high and high school - he definitely never went to high school. He looked younger than many of his students and was completely awesome. I know for sure he celebrated his 21st birthday while a high school teacher, and he had been at my school for a few years at that point, and also had a master's degree from Caltech. So I suspect if he went to any middle school at all, it was a year or so. CSULA has a program that lets weirdly smart kids enter college there, in some cases shortly after elementary school. He had no regrets.

Offhand I can think of three or four people I know who have done this kind of thing. USC has a program to let exceptional high school students leave high school and come straight there, and actually both my current and ex-boyfriend had siblings who did this, which is a weird coincidence I'd never thought about before. God, okay, that's really weird!

So, yes, there are at least two Los Angeles-area universities that make this kind of thing transparently easy.
posted by crinklebat at 5:45 PM on December 7, 2007

Not to be contrary, but you could just take the GED. It's basically a literacy test -- my younger brother passed it comfortably at age 12, and he isn't a child prodigy or anything, just a bright kid.
posted by YoungAmerican at 7:08 PM on December 7, 2007

I'm a Simon's Rock alum, and yes, it is well-respected, albeit also viewed as slightly eccentric. One big plus about SRC is they award you an Associate of Arts degree after two years, and can easily transfer anywhere, effectively. (Of course, some schools, like the Big H, don't accept transfers as a general rule.)
posted by daveqat at 9:39 PM on December 9, 2007

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