Become a High School Graduate in Colorado: Program Options

In Colorado, adults who haven't graduated from high school may consider attending an adult high school diploma program, or they may earn a General Educational Development (GED) diploma. Both options allow a person to receive credentials similar to those earned by someone who has graduated from high school.

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Colorado High School Graduate Requirements

Colorado's guidelines for graduation require local districts and school boards to determine graduation requirements, selecting from a state menu of options. All schools and programs must meet Colorado's minimum career- and college-readiness standards for English and math. Students who hope to obtain a high school diploma in Colorado should attend and matriculate from a program that meets these graduation standards or should pass an accepted high school equivalency exam.

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High School Graduate Options for Adults in Colorado

An adult high school diploma program allows individuals to earn the credits they need to qualify for graduation. The individual's previous credits earned when attending high school may count towards graduation and any missing credits are typically made up through the program. Prospective students must typically be 17 or 18 years of age or older and withdrawn from high school.

Colorado offers three high school equivalency programs: the General Educational Development (GED) test, the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET), and the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC). The GED option is test-based and, while preparation is not mandatory, it is advised, especially for individuals who may have been out of school for a while. Preparation courses allow a person to prepare for the four sections of the GED test, which are social studies, reasoning through mathematics, science and reasoning through language arts.


GED testing takes place at approved centers throughout the state, and it can't be done online. Individuals who are 17 can take the GED test, but they must be residents of Colorado. If you are over 17, you do not need to be a Colorado resident. Individuals who are 16 are eligible to take the test if they are approved for a GED Age Waiver. A person can't be enrolled in a high school or already hold a high school diploma or GED. To be admitted to the test, an individual must bring a photo ID that shows his or her current address.

To pass the GED tests, a person must earn a score of 145 on each test with an overall score of at least 580. If a person fails one or more tests, he or she can retake the test, and there is no limit for the number of GED exams that may be taken in a year. However, there is a 60-day waiting period for those who have taken a test subject three times.

High School Diploma Programs

Adult high school programs typically include classes that students must take in each subject, similar to classes taken in a typical high school. Some programs may offer options for students to demonstrate mastery of skills that can be exchanged for credits. Individual, self-guided work may also be an option.

Many programs require students to take assessment tests before enrolling in the program. This allows the students to be placed in the appropriate classes according to their abilities. Online high school programs are also available and can enable students to achieve their high school diplomas and receive career-specific training.

Why Get a High School Diploma in Colorado?

In Colorado, the unemployment rate and annual earnings vary greatly between individuals with a high school diploma and those without one, according to the Colorado Workforce Development Council. In 2017, the unemployment rate was 6.4% for adults without a diploma, and they earned a median salary of $23,004. High school diploma holders' unemployment rate was 4.8%, and their median salary was $30,568. Moreover, most future jobs in the state will require post-secondary education. A high school diploma can qualify you for this level of training.

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