High school diplomas: If they're different, are they equal?

Each state in the United States has its own unique requirements for a high school degree, all of which meet the minimum requirements to be recognized nationally. There are several different types of fake high school diplomas offered in the United States, however, not all of which meet the minimum requirements set by colleges and universities in this country.

Depending upon the region or school district, more than one type of high school degree may be available to high school students. If choices are available, the high school guidance counselor is best equipped to help students and their families choose among the options for a degree transcripts. Here are some of the available types of high school diplomas offered today.

A general high school diploma is the basic high school degree that meets its state's minimum requirements for competency and course completion. It has no particular slant other than a well-rounded balance of courses considered necessary for a basic education, and meets the basic admission requirements for most community colleges. It typically requires certain levels of achievement in math, science, language arts, social sciences, and - sometimes - some acquaintance with a foreign language.

College-preparatory high school diploma and Honors degrees

This university degree typically meets the requirements for admission at state universities and has all the requirements of a general diploma, plus it requires some advanced coursework and a minimum grade point average. High school students who do not achieve the necessary grade point average for a college-prep degree can still receive a general diploma.

Some students may receive high school diplomas that reflect advanced-placement or honors-level work. They may attend gifted programs or magnet schools, or take advanced-placement courses for a certificate. The grade point average required to qualify for an honors degree will be higher than for a college prep or general diploma.

Especially in heavily populated areas, school systems are increasingly offering an "alternative high school" for students who do not flourish in a typical high school structure. These students may meet with teachers in small informal groups, or they may attend classes that are clustered in the morning and given credit for working in the afternoon. They may be graded on a pass-fail system and receive a general phony diploma with that notation. Their transcripts may trigger requests by colleges for additional information, and the students may be required to take remedial coursework at the college for no credit before they can begin their actual college curriculum.

Vocational/technical high school diplomas

While some high schools offer vocational/technical classes, some school districts have separate high schools specifically offering vocational and technical subjects, and award a vocational/technical high school degree. These novelty degrees prepare the student to get a job, or to enroll in a technical college, but may pose difficulties for gaining admission to four-year baccalaureate programs.

Home-schooled students take periodic tests that demonstrate age-appropriate proficiencies in high school degree subjects. Depending on their state of residence, they may be awarded diplomas from the state, from a local high school whose exams they have passed, or they may simply have transcripts to present to colleges that have specific sets of admission criteria for home-schooled students.