The GED started out as a high school equivalency certificate for G.I.s coming home from World War II. The GED was probably a great idea when it served these young men who’d left school for a good reason. The GED is probably still a great idea in special cases. (We hired our oldest daughter’s first nanny when she’d just finished her GED. Now she’s about to finish law school.) But in general, the GED is not a good substitute for a high school diploma. For example, neither the navy nor the air force consider the GED to be equivalent to a high school diploma.
Although GED recipients have the same measured academic ability as high school graduates who do not attend college, they have on average the economic and social outcomes of otherwise similar dropouts… .Despite having similar measures of cognitive ability, GED recipients perform significantly worse in most dimensions of economic and social life when compared to high school graduates. They lack noncognitive skills such as perseverance and motivation that are essential to success in school and in life… .The GED opens education and training opportunities, but GED recipients do not reap the potential benefits of these options because they are unable to finish the skill enhancement programs that they start. GED recipients attrite from the military at the same rate as other dropouts and exit postsecondary schooling with nearly the same degree attainment rates as other dropouts who start with no credential.